This week’s Pfizer Vet Visit, Dr. Gavin Staley continues his discussion on breeding programs.
Archive for August, 2009
Low milk prices reflected in dairy farm milk checks have rippled beyond the farm and have impacted agricultural land values and credit conditions, according to Dairy Profit Weekly editor Dave Natzke in his weekly Friday update.
USDA’s recent analysis of 2009 agricultural land values shows the value of farm real estate, including land and buildings on farms, declined about 3 percent from 2008, Natzke reported, the first decline in farm real estate values since 1987.
And while the decline wasn’t uniform across the country, Natzke said the major dairy states of Idaho, Florida, California and Oregon showed the largest declines on a percentage basis.
Cropland and pastureland values also posted declines in 2009, although crop and pasture rental rates were steady to higher, according to Natzke. USDA economists blamed the contraction in the overall economy for land value declines, resulting in less demand for recreational, commercial, and residential land development in many regions.
Livestock and crop commodity prices also declined from a year earlier, weakening producer and investor interest, Natzke reported.
As of the mid-point of 2009, surveys of ag bankers in several Federal Reserve districts say declining land values are showing signs of stabilizing, but the downturn in milk and livestock prices has also affected credit conditions, especially in livestock-dependent regions.
Bankers in the nation’s heartland, from Wisconsin to Texas, reported a slowdown in loan repayment rates, with an increased request for loan extensions and renewals. Many bankers singled out dairy producers as those farmers most affected, with farm income, household spending and capital expenditures all down. And while second-quarter interest rates stayed fairly steady, many bankers raised collateral requirements for their borrowers.
The use of antibiotics is getting increased scrutiny and questioning by government. It seems you can hardly find a hand-soap these days that isn’t antibacterial, meaning antibiotics are included in its content.
Antibiotic use in animal agriculture is a part of that and government’s attention to it has drawn concern from several agricultural organizations, among them the National Milk Producers Federation.
Chris Galen reported in Thursday’s broadcast that the Obama Administration has indicated that they will take a very close look at antibiotic use in farm animals and pending legislation in Congress would basically ban any sub therapeutic use, meaning that any animal that does not have an active infection or illness requiring treatment, then you could not use antibiotics on it.
The dairy industry perhaps is not as vulnerable to such a ruling as other livestock sectors, according to Galen, but there are questions about how medicated calf replacer or dry cow treatment, for instance, would be impacted by this legislation.
National Milk is part of a group of livestock and veterinary organizations that recently sent a letter to the White House, calling on the administration to think very hard about the consequences of this legislation, not just to animal welfare but ultimately to public health and food safety, if we greatly restrict or eliminate the use of antibiotics in livestock animals.
DairyLine asked Galen if it was an animal rights or a vegetarian agenda that was behind this and he replied “A lot of the criticism is coming from people who think that conventional agriculture is bad.”
He cited the cover story of the current issue of Time magazine which details what it says is wrong with conventional agriculture today. The antibiotic issue is “just one more bit of evidence that there is a small but vocal minority of people who criticize modern day farming,” Galen concluded, “And are using the antibiotic issue as a way to attack everyone involved in animal agriculture.”
The Beef Check off program promotes all beef, whether it’s natural, organic, or grain fed, with the ultimate goal of increasing demand for beef and is why California organic dairy producer, Frank Gambonini, believes in the checkoff and serves on the California Beef Council.
Gambonini reported in Wednesday’s broadcast that he has a pasture-based dairy located about an hour and a half north of San Francisco and says he’s trying to avoid growing larger and yet remain in the business without overgrazing his land by having too many cows on it.
Going organic has allowed him to stay in the business, which he said, has been operating since 1913, and that has enabled him to receive a little more profit. His dairy beef is not considered organic yet, but beef demand and the sale of beef is part of his income so increased demand for beef means increased income for him and others, according to Gambonini.
The Beef Check off promotes beef consumption, he said, and “makes consumers more aware of the quality and the safety of beef, and the great people who produce it,” therefore he believes the beef check off is a good investment.
This week’s Success Strategies Podcast, John Ellsworth discusses what it takes to build a world class team.
The Monday market didn’t react much to Friday’s Cold Storage numbers. Mary Ledman, Principal of Keough Ledman and Associates Incorporated in Libertyville, Illinois, said the report showed that July 31 American cheese stocks and butter were up from June and from a year ago and was “bearish news in general,” but cautioned that the data “needs to be seen in a larger context.”
Those stocks that USDA reported is cheese that is intended to be stored more than 30 days, she said, and the cheese traded at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is Cheddar that is less than 30 days old so she believes prices could climb incrementally in August and September and possibly the first week of October because “This is the time of year that we produce the least amount of cheese 30 days of age or less so we have an opportunity to see some incremental increases here.”
She warned however that, “If we wake up the 15th of October and find ourselves with cheese stocks 8 percent above a year ago and milk production not curtailing, I think that the gain we experienced in the last couple weeks could dissipate.”
When asked how much of the gains in cheese prices she would attribute to USDA raising its purchases prices on cheese, Ledman replied, “Absolutely none.” She said the support price on cheese is “largely ineffective,” and pointed out that it’s not unusual for Chicago Mercantile prices to be a dime or less than the support price, with no product moving to the government.
This week’s Pfizer Vet Vist, Dr. Gavin Staley, Senior Fresh Cow Reproductive Manager, discusses how to choose the right breeding program for your herd.
Dairy Management Incorporated’s Stan Erwine was back in Monday’s “DMI Update” to continue his series on the dairy check off program’s “Telling Your Story” campaign. One of its three modules is called “Connect with Your Community,” Erwine said, and it specifically deals with helping dairy farmers to develop public relations plans and tools for their dairy.
Erwine repeated his comment from last week that most consumers are two to three generations away from the farm and are therefore unfamiliar with what farmers do. The good news, he said, is that a majority of those consumers have a very positive opinion of dairy products, dairy farms, and dairy farmers but “as we enter the information age, there is more information that confuses consumers.
They have concerns about how we care for the environment, our cattle, and how we insure safe, high quality, and wholesome dairy products, Erwine said, and “That is where the rule of “PR 101 comes into play, tell your story or someone will tell it for you.”
The “Connect with Your Community” program gives producers the tools and skills to communicate how they care for the environment, their cows, and how they’re committed to producing safe, high quality, nutritious milk.
A provided workbook provides worksheets, mission’s statements, value statements, talking points and is available through many of the local state and regional organizations that are trained and ready to provide this to farmers.
Computers are playing a larger role in dairy decision-making and a new USDA survey measuring dairy farmer computer use and the growing “need for speed” when it comes to Internet connections was Dairy Profit Weekly editor Dave Natzke’s topic in Friday’s broadcast.
He began by referring to how much computers have impacted the jobs of us in farm media but said the same is true for dairy farmers. Whether checking futures prices to make marketing decisions, visiting a website to learn more about a new feeding strategy, or posting a comment on Facebook to help educate consumers, Natzke said, the computer is growing as a dairy management tool.
According to the report, about 60 percent of all U.S. dairy operations have computer access, 57 percent own or lease a computer, 45 percent use computers for farm business, and 52 percent have Internet access.
However, while on par with producers of livestock and crops, dairy producers continue to lag grain and cotton producers in overall computer access and use, according to Natzke, but dairy producers generating $250,000 or more in sales and government payments are much more likely to utilize computers, and are near the leaders in embracing the technology among all U.S. farm operators.
A June 2009 USDA survey found 80 percent of dairy farmers with annual sales of $250,000 or more have access to computers and the Internet, and about 70 percent use computers for their business management. And, more are opting for higher-speed Internet connections.
Just four years ago, “dial-up” was the main connection to the Internet for dairy farmers, at 76 percent, Natzke reported. Today, dial-up has slipped to about 30 percent, with digital subscriber lines (DSL), wireless, cable and satellite Internet access making up 70 percent.
National Milk has again called on USDA to implement the promotion checkoff assessment on dairy imports. Chris Galen recalled in Thursday’s broadcast how, a year ago we were talking about the passage of the 2008 farm bill and “Here it is 12 months later and just about everything else in that bill is now law except for the promotion assessment on imports.”
Galen said they called on USDA to implement the measure because it was part of the 2008 farm bill, but more importantly, was part of the 2002 farm bill and never implemented because of some technical issues that had to be corrected.
“Enough is enough,” Galen said, importers need to “pay their fair share.” He added that there are 10 other importers that pay into check off programs for various commodities such as cotton, beef, and pork.
Another issue that has been raised by those opposed to implementing the dairy check off to imports is the claim that doing so would threaten state and local promotion programs such as those in Wisconsin, California, and 20 other states and regions. Galen pointed out that those programs were in existence before the 1983 bill which created the National Dairy Checkoff “So nothing will happen to these other existing programs,” he said. “It’s one more case of disinformation designed to further muddy the waters and delay this process.”