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June 13, 2019 - 1:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, dairy farmers, agriculture, milk producers.

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 13 — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announces that signup begins June 17 for the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program, the cornerstone program of the dairy safety net that helps dairy producers manage the volatility of milk and feed prices, operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

The 2018 Farm Bill allowed USDA to construct the new DMC, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy). This new program offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

“In February I committed to opening signup of the new Dairy Margin Coverage program by June 17, I am proud to say that our FSA staff worked hard to meet that challenge as one of the Department’s top Farm Bill implementation priorities since President Trump signed it last December.” said Secretary Perdue. “With an environment of low milk prices, high economic stress, and a new safety net program with higher coverage levels and lower premiums, it is the right time for dairy producers to seriously consider enrolling when signup opens. For many smaller dairies, the choice is probably a no-brainer as the retroactive coverage through January has already assured them that the 2019 payments will exceed the required premiums.”

The program provides coverage retroactive to Jan. 1, 2019, with applicable payments following soon after enrollment. At the time of signup, dairy producers can choose between the $4 to $9.50 coverage levels.

The Farm Bill also allows producers who participated in MPP-Dairy from 2014-2017 to receive a repayment or credit for part of the premiums paid into the program. FSA has been providing premium reimbursements to producers since last month and those that elect the 75 percent credit option will now have that credit applied toward 2019 DMC premiums.

The Department has built in a 50 percent blend of premium and supreme alfalfa hay prices with the alfalfa hay price used under the prior dairy program to provide a total feed cost that more closely aligns with hay rations used by many producers. At a milk margin minus feed cost of $9.50 or less, payments are possible. With the 50 percent hay blend, FSA’s revised April 2019 income over feed cost margin is $8.82 per hundredweight (cwt). The revised margins for January, February and March are, respectively, $7.71, $7.91 and $8.66 – triggering DMC payments for each month.

DMC payments will be reduced by 6.2 percent in 2019 because of a sequester order required by Congress and issued in accordance with the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.

DMC offers catastrophic coverage at no cost to the producer, other than an annual $100 administrative fee. Producers can opt for greater coverage levels for a premium in addition to the administrative fee. Operations owned by limited resource, beginning, socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers and ranchers may be eligible for a waiver on administrative fees. Producers have the choice to lock in coverage levels until 2023 and receive a 25-percent discount on their DMC premiums.

To assist producers in making coverage elections, USDA partnered with the University of Wisconsin to develop a DMC decision support tool, which can be used to evaluate various scenarios using different coverage levels through DMC.

More Information

All dairy operations in the United States are eligible for the DMC program. An operation can be run either by a single producer or multiple producers who commercially produce and market cows’ milk.

Eligible dairy operations must have a production history determined by FSA. For most operations, production history is based on the highest milk production in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Newer dairy operations have other options for determining production history. Producers may contact their local FSA office to get their verified production history.

Dairy producers also are reminded that 2018 Farm Bill provisions allow for dairy operation to participate in both FSA’s DMC program and the Risk Management Agency’s Livestock Gross Margin (LGM-Dairy) program. There are also no restrictions from participating in DMC in conjunction with any other RMA insurance products.

On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which provides support, certainty and stability to our nation’s farmers, ranchers and land stewards by enhancing farm support programs, improving crop insurance, maintaining disaster programs and promoting and supporting voluntary conservation. FSA is committed to implementing these changes as quickly and effectively as possible, and today’s updates are part of meeting that goal.

For more information, visit farmers.gov DMC webpage or contact your local USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.

June 17, 2018 - 6:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in dairy farmers, agriculture, chris collins, NY-27, notify.

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Rep. Chris Collins and dairy farmer Dale Stein.

Americans should be encouraged to buy more milk, Rep. Chris Collins told a group of dairy farmers gathered at Stein Farms in Le Roy yesterday to hear about the congressman's plan to encourage the USDA to promote milk consumption, along with his thoughts on immigration and trade policy.

"Whether it's health or otherwise, just think 'drink milk' because right now our biggest issue in Western New York is a supply-and-demand issue," Collins said. "You know we had some of the yogurt plants shut down. We've all faced issues within the school lunch program and certainly, we'd love to be selling milk up into Canada. Their recent move on ultra-filtered milk and Class 6 milk just made it even worse."

Collins is among a dozen members of Congress who signed a letter to Agriculture Secretary George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue III asking the USDA to implement a marketing program similar to the "Got Milk" campaign of the 1990s and 2000s.

“Years ago, messages that resonated with all Americans included ‘Got Milk?’ and ‘Drink Milk, Love Life,’ and we saw some of our favorite celebrities with milk mustaches,” Collins said in a press release the coincided with yesterday's event. “The fact is, this type of marketing works.

"In recent years, we’ve seen an overall decline in milk consumption, which has created tough economic times for our dairy farmers and we are hoping Secretary Perdue can provide some additional help.”

Whether the "Got Milk" campaign was successful is disputed by marketing experts. The campaign, created in 1993 at the behest of California Milk Processor Board, an agency created by the State of California to assist dairy farmers, reportedly increased milk consumption in California during its first year but that data was based on consumer surveys. 

In 1995, Milk Processor Education Program, a dairy-industry-funded nonprofit, licensed the "Got Milk" campaign and rolled it out nationally.

While consumer surveys indicated similar results as reported in California, actual milk consumption data gathered by the USDA tells a different story. Per-capita consumption of fluid milk has declined across the nation from 210 pounds in 1993 to 159 pounds in 2014, when the campaign was discontinued.

Dale Stein said he supports any effort to get more Americans buying more milk or that expands the market for milk.

"I'm hoping that we can increase consumer usage of dairy, and it is increasing, but increase it more so that it brings the supply closer to being in balance," Stein said. "It doesn't have to be in balance with demand. If gets closer, the price comes up."

At the beginning of the year, milk was selling at $14 per hundred pounds. That's not a sustainable price, Stein said. At that price, Stein Farms can't stay in business and pass the multigeneration farm onto the next generation. Right now, the price is $17. That is sustainable.

"If we can get the $17 milk we can do well here," Stein said. "I don't need $20 milk. I'm not asking for high milk prices, I just need the consumer to use a little more dairy and if everybody did that, that would make the difference."

It's not like Americans aren't buying more milk products, as Stein said. When accounting for all milk products, including the categories with the most growth -- cheese and butter (it used to be yogurt, but that has receded a bit) -- then Americans are consuming more milk. Through 2016, per-capita dairy product consumption increased from 613 pounds in 2006 to 646 pounds.

One reason for the current oversupply of milk, Stein said, is that a few years ago, for a few short months, milk did hit $20, and even $25. Dairy farmers across the country thought they struck gold and invested in increased production. Now they're stuck with that production.

Stein said he can't reduce production. Low prices means he has to increase it -- makeup on volume what is being lost per unit -- so he can meet his high fixed costs. He pointed to a couple of giant tractors that he bought used. 

"You're looking at $650,000 standing there," Stein said.

"I have to have cash flow," Stein added.  "If the price isn't there, the only thing I can do to is sell more milk. That means readjust what I'm feeding the cows to make more milk. We do a lot of cost cutting, too, but there's only so far we can cut costs. So you, as an individual farmer -- if everybody agreed to make a cut -- we could do it, but you can't get an agreement across the country."

Collins also said he is looking to help dairy farmers through the new five-year Farm Bill, which is expected to come up for a vote in the coming week.

The Market Protection Program, part of the previous Farm Bill, hasn't worked for dairy farmers, Collins acknowledged. 

"Most dairies have not signed onto the basic insurance program," Collins said. "On the crop side, the insurance program, the margin programs have worked. When we get into a supply and demand where there is oversupply, it just does not work. The formulas don't work. I've been told, and I think some folks here who have looked at it would say, the dairy margin program in the new farm bill will provide an option, an insurance option, that in a day like today could provide economic support on the downside."

Another long-standing problem for dairy farmers is labor and Collins said he understands that in order to address dairy's labor shortage, there needs to be immigration reform.

Collins is a member of a Republican group in the House called the Freedom Caucus. The members refused to vote on the Farm Bill unless they could get a bill on the floor dealing with immigrant labor. He also acknowledged that while the bill would fix many of the problems faced by dairy farmers, it also isn't likely to pass.

"We are putting up a compromise immigration bill," Collins said. "The bad news is, there's no dairy in it."

However, he said the Freedom Caucus has been promised a vote in July that would address the year-round visa issue that has made it so hard for dairy farmers to hire and retain qualified dairy employees.

"We've talked about the undocumented workers having a three-year visa that would be continued and renewable on a two-year basis," Collins said.

This is all good news, said Dale Stein after the event was over. He's grateful to Collins going to bat for dairy farmers. Even if the immigration bill expected to go to the floor for a vote next week doesn't pass, just getting the bill to the floor is an accomplishment after years of a congressional stalemate on immigration.

"What he has done has forced votes on immigration," Stein said. "He's working with other Republicans and working bipartisan with Democrats. Now he's forced votes on immigration so that we can maybe get immigration settled and fix for farmers and everybody else.

"It's been left in limbo for too long. Congressman Collins, working with others, including the Democrats, is pushing to get this settled. I support him 100 percent on that."

The issue making farmers across the nation nervous is the talk of trade wars.

In his remarks to local farmers yesterday, Collins didn't back down on the tough talk and praised Trump for taking on allies and rivals alike on trade policy.

"Trump rightfully has called out Trudeau in Canada for their long-standing, non-free-market protection of their (dairy industry)," Collins said. "We can't get any dairy into Canada where we were selling ultra-filtered milk. They shut down about a year ago, Class Six. Now they're dumping powdered milk around the world. I mean it's just awful. My comment to the press was, 'we caught Canada and we caught Trudeau cheating.' It's not fair trade; it's not free trade."

He said nobody can win a trade war with the United States.

"I'm not sure what Canada will ultimately do, but I think Trudeau should realize he doesn't win a trade war with the United States," Collins said. "China doesn't win a trade war with the United States. Europe does not win a trade war with the United States. Trump is the first president to stand up and say we've been in a trade war 20 years and we're losing.

He said China's plan to retaliate against Trump's planned 25-percent tariff won't work.

"The problem is we don't export that much to China," Collins said. "They're talking about putting tariffs on goods that don't even get sold in China. Well, have a nice day. It's simply rhetoric on their part."

Many of the tariffs China is planning, however, will hit agriculture directly.

U.S. dairy farmers exported $577 million in dairy products to China last year, up 49 percent from the year before. Though Collins said "we can't get any dairy into Canada," but in 2017, Canada imported $636 million in dairy from the United States. And while Trump and his trade representatives continue to threaten to pull out of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), the largest international market for U.S. dairy is Mexico, which imported $1.3 billion in dairy from the United States, up 9 percent from the year before.

As a percentage of U.S. dairy production, the percentage of dairy going overseas has grown from 8 percent in 2010 to more than 14 percent today.

Soybeans, another important crop in Genesee County, is a product targeted for retaliation by China but rather than answer merely with tariffs, China is planning to buy from Brazil, which has the capacity to grow soybean production. Some U.S. trade experts fear the United States won't get that market back even if tariffs are lifted.

The USDA considers China a potentially huge market for U.S. farmers. Last year, China imported $26 billion in U.S. farm products. 

The ultra-filtered milk dispute with Canada is a fairly recent issue. The class of product, called Class Six, was created a couple of years ago, and it's not governed by NAFTA. The price of the product is set by global supply and demand and isn't regulated. This has depressed the price below what Canada considers acceptable for its highly regulated dairy market. It won't allow Class Six imports from the United States. Meanwhile, U.S. dairy farmers are looking to expand the market for its oversupply of milk.

After Collins finished his speech, Collins and the other visitors were invited to a table filled with WNY dairy products, including Perry's Ice Cream. After Shelly Stein finished filling bowls and cones for everyone, Collins talked with Dale and Shelly Stein and other farmers.

Shelly Stein brought up the trade issue. She said she's concerned about commodities being used in a trade war.

"That's us," she said.

At this point, The Batavian jumped in with some questions for Collins about trade.

We asked about his statement that the United States could win a trade war with China when it's a large market for dairy, soybeans, sorghum, beef, and other agriculture products.

We asked, "Is this really the right approach, to get into a trade war with trading partners that agriculture depends on?"

Collins said, "We've been in a trade war 20 years. This isn't new. We've been losing the trade war for 20 years. There's just never been a president to acknowledge it. It's been death by a thousand cuts. Look at the manufacturing that's not done here and here we have been in a war for 20 years. This isn't a new war. But Trump is addressing the war that we've been losing, battle after battle after battle. The rest of the world's been taking advantage of us, all but laughing at us behind our back, as they have taken advantage of us. Trump was elected to say, 'it's done.' They are going to attempt to flex their muscles. The retaliation tends to be on the ag side, unfortunately."

Later in his reply, he said, "Right now it's noisy and there are consequences and others are gonna flex their muscles in hopes of getting Trump to cave in and say, 'No, no, no, it's OK that you cheat.' He's saying, it's not OK that they cheat. But I will tell you, as I said, they depend on us at the end of the day, whether it's Europe, whether it's Mexico, whether it's China, or whether it's Canada, if they don't trade with the U.S., they suffer. We can make any products made in China. We have huge deficits there. We may pay a little more. You know, whether it's your dinnerware or your underwear, you may pay a little more if it's made here."

Trump often Tweets about the state of the economy, how well it is doing. Low unemployment, rising wages, and if you look over the past 20 years, the Gross Domestic Product has increased every year except for 2008 and 2009. In the past 20 years, U.S. goods and services exports have grown from $500 billion to $1.4 trillion.

So if the economy is doing well and growing, we asked Collins for evidence that we're losing a trade war.

"Well, we're losing the trade war because we're not making the products here," Collins said. "We have 6.3 million people that are unemployed that don't have the skills to be a software engineer or a welder or a machinist. The assembly line jobs have disappeared."

(NOTE: Some economists blame manufacturing job loss on automation. A Federal Reserve report says 800,000 jobs were lost to China but were replaced by jobs in other sectors, primarily service, construction, wholesale and retail.)

Collins said, "There's a whole lot of folks who have given up even looking for work." He added, "Our labor participation in the adult workforce is at an all time low."

(NOTE: The Trump Administration says workforce participation has grown during his term.)

For our next question, we pointed out the iPhone recording the conversation includes inputs from U.S. companies, including the glass face, which is made in New York. Some economists estimate a trade war will cost 400,000 Americans their jobs because they make things used in products manufactured overseas or rely on inputs, such as steel, that Trump plans to tax.

The Batavian asked, "We depend greatly on trade with China. China, rightly or wrongly, is part of the WTO (World Trade Organization). Isn't using the rules that have been created a better approach to deal with these trade issues than starting trade wars?"

"No, not when they pay $3 an hour (for labor) in China," Collins said. "If they're paying $3 an hour, we'll never get our manufacturing jobs back. And what you just said is some of the raw materials are made here. Why don't we make the whole phone here?"

Adam Smith and David Ricardo addressed that question 200 years ago. Countries benefit by trade because each can specialize and therefore create the best possible products at the lowest possible costs, raising everybody's standard of living. Ricardo called it "comparative advantage."

That's a little more detail than we provided Collins (we just mentioned Smith and Ricardo in broad terms), but Collins responded, "There's some 40 percent of the world's population, 2.8 billion people, living in China and living in India. We've got 320 million, and they're paying $2 and $3 an hour. If we're going to make something in the United States, we've got to deal with that unfair, untenable differential."

We pointed out, Chinese wages, as happens in all developing countries, have been rising, creating a bigger middle class, creating a bigger market for U.S. products, particularly farm products.

"Yeah, they go from $3 to $4, from $4 to $5," Collins said. "We still lose that piece of it. We've got to level the playing field or there is no future for our children and grandchildren and we need inflation."

At which point, Collins began to discuss why we need inflation to help retire the national debt.

"Inflation is something we desperately need in this country," Collins said. "The $20 trillion of debt against a $20 trillion economy that our children and grandchildren and the 10th generation that is with us here (referring to the Stein family) deserve better. What they deserve is paying off this $20 trillion of debt in cheaper dollars, which means inflation.

"We need 4 percent per-year inflation for the next 18 years. Compound it annually so that the $20 trillion of debt is the equivalent of $10 trillion. In 18 years, and as our economy grows and doubles in 18 years from $20 trillion to $40 trillion, our debt can actually go from $20 trillion to $30 trillion. So we have a green light of 75-percent debt to GDP. We have to have inflation at 4 percent a year or our kids don't have a future."

So we asked, "So you're arguing for a hidden tax on consumers instead of reducing spending?"

"We can't ever reduce spending to cut our debt," Collins said. "Anyone who thinks so is living in la-la land. We have to grow our way to success. We have to grow our economy and inflation is part of it.

"Anyone who thinks that with our deficits today that we can pay down our $20 trillion of debt is in la-la land," Collins added. "It can never happen. We have to grow to success, grow for our kids to have a future.

"Part of that growth is inflation, and what you saw under eight years of Obama with a fake economy of no inflation, the $20 trillion of debt is truly troubling. It's $20 trillion and it's growing and without inflation, our kids are going to be living in cardboard boxes under the bridge."

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April 27, 2018 - 3:09pm
Press release:
 
U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer announced today that he is working directly with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senator Tammy Baldwin(D-WI) to urge U.S. trade officials to secure a level playing field with Canadian producers during the renegotiation of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
 
According to Schumer, in recent years, Canada has established dairy pricing policies and has maintained high tariffs that have effectively created a “Dairy Wall” stopping most U.S. dairy products from accessing Canadian markets and distorting global trade. Dairy farmers and producers, like O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. in Batavia, Cayuga Milk Ingredients in Cayuga County and dairy producers in Wisconsin, have been severely hurt by Canada’s manipulative trade practices and it will only get worse without action.
 
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) from Wisconsin has also been a leader on lowering Canada’s dairy trade barriers, working closely with Senator Schumer.
 
“With Speaker Ryan’s and Senator Baldwin’s help, we now have a real opportunity to churn the tide and hopefully fix the unfair Canadian dairy trade barriers that have plagued dairy farmers and producers from the Finger-Lakes to Central New York to Wisconsin,” said Senate Democratic Leader Schumer.
 
“Our hardworking New York dairy farmers and producers across Upstate New York are the most competitive in the world, but they depend on stable and fair rules to compete in a global economy, to sell their dairy products, expand their business and create new local jobs – and right now, for dairy, Canada is erecting unfair barriers and not playing by the rules and the current NAFTA renegotiation must be used to rectify that.”
 
Schumer explained Canada has an unfair advantage over New York dairy farmers and producers. In addition to Canada’s 270 percent tariff on milk, a program called the “Class 7” pricing program, a market-distorting supply management system, has caused severe pain to New York dairy producers since it came into force last year.
 
In fact, Canada has used the Class 7 program to triple its milk powder exports in the past year by creating excess milk production capacity within Canada, then dumping the resulting milk powder onto world markets. To further prove this dumping exists, Schumer added that Canada’s dairy farmers are some of the highest paid in the world, yet Canadian dairy companies are still able to be among the lowest cost sellers of Class 7 products globally.
 
As U.S., Canadian and Mexican trade officials are closing in on a deal to revamp North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Schumer said working with Senator Baldwin and Speaker Ryan – who represents many dairy farmers and producers in their own state, represents a real opportunity to finally dismantle Canada’s market-distorting policies and ensure a level playing field for American dairy farmers and producers.
 
Schumer continued: “As trade officials near a deal to renegotiate NAFTA – a bipartisan issue President Trump, Senator Baldwin, Speaker Ryan and I agree on – we must make it a top priority to begin reversing restrictive dairy pricing policies in Canada that are hurting our dairy producers at their core, and now is a real opportunity to do just that.”
 
Schumer said that he has directly stressed the importance of securing meaningful changes in our dairy trade relationship with Canada to past and current administration officials, including President Trump, current United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton, and the U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft -- who have all committed to address this issue.
April 23, 2018 - 4:26pm

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today called on U.S. trade officials to secure a level playing field with Canadian producers during the renegotiation of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Schumer said that in recent years, Canada has established dairy pricing policies and has maintained high tariffs that have effectively created a “Dairy Wall” stopping most U.S. dairy products from accessing Canadian markets and distorting global trade.

Dairy farmers and producers, like the 340 dairy farmers who make up Upstate Niagara Co-Op, which supplies O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. in Batavia, have been severely hurt by Canada’s manipulative trade practices and it will only get worse without action.

O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc., with more than 400 employees and majority owned by Upstate Niagara, has already lost millions of dollars in contracts due to Canada’s actions “Dairy Wall.”

Schumer said that the time to secure a level playing field with Canada by expanding market opportunities and eliminating Canada’s unfair pricing policies – is now and we cannot let this opportunity go to waste.

“Our hardworking New York dairy farmers and producers like Upstate Niagara Co-Op’s 340 farm family members across the Finger Lakes and O-AT-KA Milk Products in Batavia are the most competitive in the world, but they depend on stable and fair rules to compete in a global economy, to sell their dairy products, expand their business and create new local jobs,” Schumer said.

“As trade officials near a deal to renegotiate NAFTA – an issue President Trump and I both agree on – we must make it a top priority to begin reversing restrictive dairy pricing policies in Canada that are hurting our dairy producers at their core, and now is a real opportunity to do just that.”

Schumer explained Canada has an unfair advantage over New York dairy farmers and producers. In addition to Canada’s 270 percent tariff on milk, a program called the “Class 7” pricing program, a market-distorting supply management system, has caused severe pain to New York dairy producers like Avon’s Anderson Farm and their fellow Upstate Niagara Co-Op dairies since it came into force last year.

In fact, Canada has used the Class 7 program to triple its milk powder exports in the past year by creating excess milk production capacity within Canada, then dumping the resulting milk powder onto world markets. To further prove this dumping exists, Schumer added that Canada’s dairy farmers are some of the highest paid in the world, yet Canadian dairy companies are still able to be among the lowest cost sellers of Class 7 products globally.

Anderson Farm is one of the 340 dairy farm members of the Upstate Niagara Co-Op, which is the majority owner of the O-AT-KA Milk Products facility in Batavia. More than 400 employees work at O-AT-KA. Upstate Niagara dairies throughout the Rochester Finger Lakes Region like Anderson Farm depend on O-AT-KA to purchase their milk to then manufacture and sell milk products for the domestic and international markets.

Since Canada’s implementation of Class 7, O-AT-KA lost $19 million in annual sales of Ultra Filtered milk (UF Milk), a product used to make cheese and other dairy products that it had been exporting into Canada. Moreover, the production of this UF milk for the Canadian market had accounted for 20 percent (about 180 million pounds) of all of O-AT-KA’s milk volume.

This severely undercut a $16 million investment made by O-AT-KA in 2012 to build a two-story addition at its Batavia plant to manufacture UF Milk to support its export business to Canada. When Canada unfairly cut off UF Milk imports and implemented Class 7, it dealt a significant blow to the local agriculture economy and was a factor in the current U.S. milk inventory imbalance that is contributing to now drive the price of milk down.

Schumer was joined by Jim Anderson, fourth generation owner of Anderson Farm, O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. President & Chairman John Gould, local dairy farmers, and elected officials.

Gould, who also owns an Upstate Niagara Co-Op dairy farm in Genesee County, said “Canada has a long history of erecting barriers to trade when it comes to dairy and the creation of Class 7 is an example of that. Canada's Class 7 market manipulation has caused harm to O-AT-KA Milk Products and their farm family owners, whose investments in serving legitimate customers in Canada have been blocked.

"As NAFTA is renegotiated, it is time that Canadian gamesmanship ends and a constructive agreement is reached that allows market participation and access under rules that all trading partners can follow. We thank Senator Schumer for his leadership and work in keeping this important issue top of mind as negotiations proceed."

As U.S., Canadian and Mexican trade officials are closing in on a deal to revamp North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Schumer said now represents a real opportunity to dismantle Canada’s market-distorting policies and ensure a level playing field for American dairy farmers and producers.

Schumer noted that he has directly stressed the importance of securing meaningful changes in our dairy trade relationship with Canada to past and current administration officials, including current United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, President Trump, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton, and the U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft who have all committed to address this issue.

Right now, products manufactured by O-AT-KA Milk Products include non-fat dry milk powder, buttermilk powder, whey powder, canned evaporated milk, butter, fluid condensed milk, iced coffee, nutritional beverages and other various drinks.

O-AT-KA has gross annual sales of more than $300 million and is a significant employer and economic development engine in Upstate NY’s dairy and manufacturing industries. Schumer said that in order for Upstate Niagara member dairies and O-AT-KA to continue to be global leaders, Canada’s rapacious dairy-related trade policies need to be addressed and that NAFTA represents a major opportunity to do so.

Here's Schumer's letter to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative:

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

As the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations come towards a conclusion, I would like to again emphasize the importance of securing meaningful concessions from Canada to provide stable market access for our dairy producers. Securing meaningful and enforceable commitments that will allow U.S. dairy producers to compete with Canada’s on a level playing field should be a top priority in NAFTA renegotiations. As I have expressed to you many times, I strongly believe that we should not miss this opportunity to protect our dairy producers from Canada’s recent predatory trade practices.

As you know, Canada’s Class 7 pricing program, a market-distorting supply management system, has caused severe pain to New York dairy producers since it came into force last year. Canada has also maintained large tariffs on dairy products, including a 270 percent tariff on milk. New York’s dairy farmers and companies like Cayuga Milk Ingredients, O-AT-KA Milk, and Ideal Dairy Farm, rely on market-based trade with Canada for a significant percentage – millions of dollars – of their revenue. Not only are New York’s producers locked out of Canada’s ultrafiltered milk market, but in just a year’s time, Canada has used its Class 7 program to triple its milk powder exports, dumping powdered milk products into global markets and undercutting New York dairy producer’s exports. This Class 7 system is likely a violation of Canada’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments, but addressing it quickly through NAFTA renegotiation is needed, rather than waiting for years for a WTO determination. This Class 7 system should be dismantled through new NAFTA commitments.

In our discussions, you have committed to me that you would prioritize addressing this issue through NAFTA renegotiations. The President has also privately expressed to me his explicit desire to address this issue and has publically emphasized, many times, the unfair way that Canada has treated our dairy producers, noting just last month: “Canada must treat our farmers much better. Highly restrictive.”

Our hard working dairy producers are the most competitive in the world, but they depend on stable and fair rules to compete in a global economy. Again, I urge you to make meaningful and enforceable commitments that level the playing field for our dairy producers a top priority as NAFTA renegotiations conclude.

Thank you for your attention to this issue.

October 20, 2017 - 2:58pm

Genesee County 4-H Dairy Club at East Hill Creamery.

Press release and submitted photos:

The Genesee County 4-H Dairy Club kicked off the 2017-2018 4-H season with a set of tours.

On Oct. 9, the Dairy Club traveled south to Wyoming Ccounty to visit two innovative agribusinesses. The group consisted of 48 people, including club members, family and friends.  

The first stop, East Hill Creamery -- makers of grass-fed artisan cheese. Gary Burley, co-owner and operator, gave the group a tour of the cheese processing facility and explained how they make their award winning cheeses.

The creamery makes four kinds of the French-Alpine-style cheeses. The group finished the tour with a tasting of each kind: Underpass; Underpass Reserve; Silver Lake; and Happy Accident. It was a perfect stop for the club as October is National Cheese Month, and a great reason to enjoy a slice of real dairy cheese!

Seven miles down the road, the club found themselves at stop #2: Marquart’s Potato Farm and Storage Facility.

Besides seeing millions of New York grown potatoes, the club toured the cleaning washing, sorting and shipping areas of the business. Chad Heeb gave the group insight into their waste-free facility and how the dream of making New York potato chips has become a reality.

After many decades of growth, the Marquart Brothers have now been able to see their locally grown potatoes processed into New York potato chips. To celebrate another great New York made product, the 4-H group concluded the tour with a tasty snack of New York potato chips.

To learn more about Genesee 4-H visit our website: http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth-development or call the 4-H Office at 585-343-3040, ext. 101

Below, photo of Genesee County 4-H Dairy Club at Marquart Potato Farm.

February 22, 2016 - 3:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in dairy farmers, agriculture, batavia, business.

The Laboratory Practices Committee of the NY State Association for Food Protection (NYSAFP), NYS Agriculture & Markets and Cornell University will again offer five Regional Laboratory Seminars, March 22 through March 30.

In Genesee County, one will be held in Batavia on Thursday, March 31, at the Genesee Co. Career Center, 587 E. Main St., Suite 100.

These programs are designed for those actively working in dairy product testing and quality assurance programs, but may be of interest to others (e.g., Certified Milk Inspectors, plant receivers, etc.).

Topics will include an overview and update of the proficiency/split sample program; a discussion on pathogen environmental monitoring (PEM) programs; detailed information on new/future requirements for drug residue testing under appendix N; and an FDA/NCIMS/NY state update. Complete course program and directions to each course site available here.

December 1, 2015 - 7:48am
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, dairy farmers, heifer raisers, business.

Press release:

Calf & Heifer Congress 2015 – “Manage What Matters” will take place in East Syracuse on Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 15-16, at the Doubletree Hotel. This exciting program will cover topics pertinent to replacement heifer management from birth to calving, and is once again planned and coordinated by Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team.

An excellent slate of speakers and outstanding dairy producers will deliver practical information of interest to dairy producers, industry, extension personnel and college staff alike. Numerous supporters to this two day conference will be on hand with displays and representatives to visit with attendees about ways to achieve superior results in the heifer enterprise.

Several standout speakers this year include Dr. Sheila McGuirk of the University of Wisconsin and Dr. Franklyn Garry of Colorado State University, who will discuss the impacts of dystocia, health risk assessment and strategies for disease control. In addition, Dr. Mike Van Amburgh of Cornell University and Dr. Bob Corbett of Dairy Health Consultation will delve into the research, biology and field experiences of providing consistent, superior management from birth to calving.

For more conference information including the complete agenda, cost, lodging, meals and registration details go to http://nwnyteam.cce.cornell.edu/event.php?id=287. You may register with a credit card on-line or print off a form to fill out and mail in with payment by check.

Accommodations for persons with special needs may be requested by contacting Cathy Wallace at 585-343-3040, ext.138 or [email protected] by Dec. 5.

March 15, 2011 - 3:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, business, agriculture, dairy farmers.

Genesee County dairy farmers looking to update their management concepts to deal with today's increased market volatility are urged to attend a workshop on March 22.

"Managing the Margins" is a workshop useful for building long-term viability for any size dairy enterprise. This half-day educational program is hosted by The North West New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crop Team.

It runs from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension located at 420 E. Main St. in Batavia.

Pre-registration is required by March 18 because group size is limited. The $30 registration fee covers lunch and handouts.

To register contact Cathy Wallace 343-3040, ext. 138, or e-mail [email protected].
For questions contact John Hanchar 658-3250, ext. 112, or e-mail [email protected].

It wasn’t too long ago dairy producers were concerned somewhat with variation in milk price and very little with feed cost. More recently, the significance of dramatic price moves has been experienced farms and in the dairy farm community.

This workshop focuses on understanding the economic world around us, global commodity markets and various price-management tools and strategies available for farmer use when managing the risk of declining milk prices and the risk of increasing feed costs.

Managing margin risk has become increasingly significant for producers given enhanced volatility in commodity prices and input costs. While profits are possible in today’s marketplace, producers must simultaneously manage milk revenue and input costs to maintain profitable margins.

The objective of this program is to provide producers with concepts and tools to determine break-even prices, market strategies, and crop insurance decisions appropriate for their operations under various conditions -- with the end goal of being able to identify and capture profitable margins.

January 17, 2011 - 1:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, business, Chris Lee, dairy farmers.

Here's a news release from Congressman Chris Lee's office.

Congressman Chris Lee was chosen to serve as a co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus for the 112th Congress

Lee served as vice-chair during the 111th Congress until its adjournment last year. He will lead the caucus with fellow co-chairs Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Peter Welch (D-VT), Timothy Walz (D-MN), Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Thomas Petri (R-WI).

The bipartisan caucus works to aid dairy farmers across the United States, and last Congress worked closely with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on important issues affecting Western New York’s dairy farmers.

“Western New York has some of the finest family farms in the country, and since coming to Congress in 2009 I’ve been focused on ensuring our region’s agricultural producers have the resources they need to survive,” Lee said.

“Dairy farmers in particular have been hard-hit during the tough economic times, but they are a resilient group of families closely tied to the land they farm and the industry they love. I look forward to working with the other co-chairs and members of the Caucus who share my commitment to strengthening family farms for this and future generations.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Lee’s congressional district is the 22nd highest dairy producing district in the nation, with a market value nearing $500 million.

New York State as a whole produces about 12.5 billion pounds of milk each year. For more information on Congressman Lee’s commitment to Western New York’s dairy farmers, visit www.chrislee.house.gov/familyfarms <http://www.chrislee.house.gov/familyfarms>.

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