Aug. 31, 2018

WASHINGTON — USDA this week announced the details of the administration’s billion emergency aid package for U.S. producers who have faced economic challenges in the escalating trade war between the United States and top trading partners.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says USDA will send incremental payments to dairy, soybean, sorghum, wheat, corn, pork and cotton producers through the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) starting Sept. 4. These payments will be based on producers’ 2018 actual production and subject to payment limitations.

In Thursday’s Federal Register, USDA’s Commodity Credit Corp. announced that applications for MFP will be accepted from Sept. 4, 2018, through Jan. 15, 2019.

An announcement about further payments will be made in the coming months, if warranted, Perdue says.

USDA also will purchase up to .2 billion in commodities such as milk, fruits, nuts, rice, legumes, beef and pork — specifically, .9 million worth of dairy products — through a Food Purchase and Distribution Program. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service will distribute these commodities through nutrition assistance programs such as the Emergency Food Assistance Program and child nutrition programs.

The .9 million dairy purchase is in addition to a million fluid milk purchase announced by USDA earlier this month. (See “USDA to purchase million in fluid milk for hunger relief” in the Aug. 17, 2018, issue of Cheese Market News.)

USDA also will authorize a 0 million Trade Promotion Program to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products.

“President Trump has been standing up to China and other nations, sending the clear message that the United States will no longer tolerate their unfair trade practices, which include non-tariff trade barriers and the theft of intellectual property,” Perdue says. “It’s important to note all of this could go away tomorrow, if China and the other nations simply correct their behavior. But in the meantime, the programs we are announcing today buys time for the president to strike long-lasting trade deals to benefit our entire economy.”

The announced details of the billion aid package received mixed reviews from dairy and agricultural stakeholders, with many saying it wasn’t enough.

In a joint release, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) praised USDA’s announcement and voiced support for the agency’s efforts to provide additional benefits to people across the country who don’t have regular access to milk and dairy products while helping to alleviate some of the financial difficulties facing dairy farmers and companies due to lost export sales.

“Secretary Perdue clearly recognizes the vital role that American agriculture and food processors play in global trade,” says Michael Dykes, president and CEO, IDFA. “With this funding package, USDA has erected a temporary bridge for agriculture while the administration continues its efforts to finalize the North American Free Trade Agreement and solidify other much-needed international trade pacts.”

Julia Kadison, CEO, MilkPEP, adds that the announcement is a significant milestone and an important opportunity to provide milk to children and families in need.

However, Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), says the plan falls far short of addressing the losses dairy producers are experiencing due to trade retaliation resulting from the Trump administration’s imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs.

“The dairy-specific financial assistance package provided by USDA — centered on an estimated 7 million in direct payments — represents less than 10 percent of American dairy farmers’ losses caused by the retaliatory tariffs imposed by both Mexico and China,” Mulhern says.

Mulhern notes the price drop resulting from these tariffs has not been gradual. Since the retaliatory tariffs were announced in late May, milk futures prices have lost more than .2 billion through December 2018, and milk prices for the balance of the year now are expected to be .10 per hundredweight lower than were estimated just prior to the imposition of the tariffs on U.S. dairy exports, he says.

“It’s hurting U.S. dairy producers right now and will continue to do so,” he says.

NMPF also cites the release of a new study this week by Informa Agribusiness Consulting — commissioned by the U.S. Dairy Export Council — on the impact of the retaliatory dairy tariffs, which projects dairy farmer income will take a hit of .5 billion this year if the tariffs remain in place through the end of 2018.

“This loss compounds to .6 billion if the tariffs are left in place long term over the next five years, through 2023,” Mulhern says. “The impact of lost sales to China account for most of that harm, accounting for 73 percent of the total. That sizeable decline in farmer incomes will compound the low prices and financial losses that dairies have already felt.” (For more on the study, see article in this issue.)

Mulhern notes dairy farmers are particularly vulnerable to downward price swings because, unlike crop farmers who harvest once a season, dairy producers harvest and market their product daily.

“If farmer incomes continue to suffer as projected, we will lose more farms,” he says.

“We appreciate that USDA has been seeking ways to help producers weather these volatile economic times. The product purchase program and the Trade Promotion Program are important elements of the overall package, and we will continue working with the department to best accomplish our shared goals of supporting dairy farmers’ prices in light of the harm caused by retaliatory tariffs,” he adds. “Although there may be a second direct aid package at the end of the year, dairy producers are greatly disappointed that the farmer aid portion of today’s trade relief package does not adequately address the harm done to dairy.

Mulhern says given this week’s other news that the Trump administration has reached a trade deal with Mexico, NMPF is repeating its request that the administration provide relief to farmers by restoring normal trading conditions so that product exports to Mexico — as well as to China — are not penalized by retaliatory tariffs. (For more on the U.S.-Mexico trade deal, see article in this issue.)

“In addition, we believe it’s essential that the administration also pursue the opening of new market access opportunities through trade agreements that expand U.S. dairy exports,” he says. “Those steps on trade would pay meaningful dividends to our farmers.”

The National Farmers Union (NFU) and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) also emphasized the need for long-term stability for strong markets for U.S. producers.

“The USDA aid package is appreciated, and it will begin to help many of those that are suffering the brunt of the retaliation from China and other trading partners, but our family farmers and ranchers need strong markets and long-term certainty,” says Rob Larew, senior vice president of public policy and communications, NFU. “Farmers Union wants to see the administration pursue fair trade agreements to the benefit of farmers and rural communities, but it must transition away from an ad hoc emergency aid strategy and to work with Congress to develop a legislative solution to low farm prices that keep family farmers in business. While the current farm economy and outlook are bleak, the administration and Congress have the tools to protect family farmers over the course of this trade war.”

Zippy Duvall, president, AFBF, says USDA’s announcement gives the U.S. agriculture sector some “breathing room,” but it will keep many producers going only for a few months more.

“The real solution to this trade war is to take a tough stance at the negotiating table and quickly find a resolution with our trading partners,” he says. “If we’re going to turn our farm economy around for the long term, we need to open more export markets with fair grade deals, and the sooner, the better.”

For more information on USDA’s aid package, visit www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2018/08/27/usda-announces-details-assistance-farmers-impacted-unjustified.

CMN

Ohio celebrates long history of quality Swiss cheesemaking

Aug. 31, 2018

Editor’s note: As part of our series, “From Cow to Curd: A Look Across the Nation,” Cheese Market News takes a look at the cheese and dairy industry across the United States. Each month we examine a different state or region, looking at key facts and evaluating areas of growth, challenges and recent innovations. This month we are pleased to introduce our latest state — Ohio.

By Rena Archwamety

MADISON, Wis. — Known as the “Little Switzerland of Ohio,” the village of Sugarcreek and surrounding area is known for its Swiss cultural heritage as well as quality Swiss cheese production from a number of companies founded by Swiss immigrants.

“The Swiss cheese industry started around 1850, and it became kind of a hub for Swiss immigrants in eastern-central Ohio, centered around the little town of Sugarcreek,” says Chuck Ellis, president of Pearl Valley Cheese, Fresno, Ohio. “There were 50 cheese plants within a 30-40 mile radius in the early 1900s.”

Around 1917, these companies connected with Ohio State University and USDA in a concerted effort to improve the quality of Swiss cheese made in Ohio, and in 1918, they launched the Ohio Swiss Association. The success in improving Swiss quality in the state led to improved markets, and by the 1920s, markets for Ohio Swiss had opened up in places like New York City and Chicago.

“Ohio became known as a Swiss cheese center, really what we still are today,” Ellis says.

• Leading Swiss producer

Ellis notes that of the 316 million pounds of Swiss cheese produced in the United States in 2017, 154 million pounds — about 49 percent — came from Ohio. About 69 percent of the 222 million pounds of cheese produced in Ohio in 2017 was Swiss. There currently are 13 Swiss cheese plants in the state.

Some of the largest Swiss manufacturers in Ohio — and in the United States — include Rothenbuhler Cheesemakers (formerly Middlefield Cheese), Middlefield, Ohio; and Brewster Cheese, headquartered in Brewster, Ohio, which also has plants in Idaho and Illinois.

“Of the 13 Swiss cheese plants currently producing, almost all are multigenerational-owned,” Ellis says, noting that many are in their third- and fourth-generation of family owners, tracing back to Swiss immigrant founders. “At Pearl Valley, we now have our fourth generation here in management.”

Pearl Valley Cheese was founded in 1928 by Swiss immigrant Ernest Stalder, who started out making one 200-pound wheel of Swiss every day in a copper kettle. Today, Pearl Valley Cheese produces about 30,000 pounds of cheese a day and has branched into other cheese variety. About 40 percent of its production remains Swiss varieties, while another 40 percent is comprised of Colby and marble-type cheeses. It also produces three different types of pepper cheese, as well as Muenster, Cheddar, Gouda and Farmer’s cheese.

Another well-established Swiss house, Guggisberg Cheese in Millersburg, Ohio, is known for inventing Baby Swiss, a younger and milder variation of traditional Swiss, in the 1960s.

“My grandfather (Alfred Guggisberg) came over in the late 40s, and Guggisberg Cheese was established in 1950,” says Ursula Guggisberg-Bennett, marketing coordinator, Guggisberg Cheese. “When my grandparents moved over to the United States, they realized the American palate was not quite as developed as the European palate for strong-flavored cheese. My grandfather wanted to create a recipe a little more geared toward the milder palate.”

Alfred Guggisberg came up with a recipe that produced a Swiss-type cheese with smaller holes and a creamier taste. His wife Margaret saw the smaller cheese with smaller eyes next to a large Emmental Swiss wheel and christened the new cheese “Baby Swiss.”

Alfred passed away in 1985, and his son Richard now is president of Guggisberg Cheese.

“Richard has built it to what it is today — he has grown it and worked very hard to make it one of the leading producers of Swiss,” Guggisberg-Bennett says of her father. “My grandparents came from a generation of extremely hard work. Everything they’ve built, for my generation and my father’s generation, it’s important for us to keep those high standards of quality in the work we do today.”

• Competitive edge

The Ohio Swiss Cheese Association — this year celebrating its 100th anniversary — throughout its history has represented the interests of Ohio Swiss manufacturers in matters involving state and federal regulatory agencies when it comes to milk quality regulations, cheese standards, waste disposal and cheese trade.

“Over the years, the Ohio Swiss Cheese Association has become the go-to source for questions from regulatory bodies from Ohio,” Ellis says. “The Dairy Division of the state’s Department of Agriculture comes to the association for recommendations for board appointments. If any pool changes are contemplated, we are the sounding board for regulatory changes.”

The association, funded through membership dues as well as cheese and auction sales at the annual Ohio Swiss Festival, also provides scholarships for local students with connections to the cheese industry or Sugarcreek community, and it hosts three cheese competitions throughout the year.

The association has been hosting cheese contests since the early 1900s. In 1953, it helped form Sugarcreek’s annual Ohio Swiss Festival and holding one of its contests at this late-September event.

“That gave more life and notoriety to our cheese contests,” Ellis says. “It was easy to sell over 20,000 pounds of Swiss cheese in the weekend of the festival in its early days. We don’t sell as much as we used to, but now we’re selling other varieties.”

The Ohio Swiss Festival, a cooperative effort between the Ohio Swiss Cheese Association, Village of Sugarcreek and Sugarcreek Business Association, celebrates the region’s Swiss heritage with music, food, parades and other entertainment. The festival includes a tent where local cheesemakers and wineries offer samples and product sales. Points are tallied from the Ohio Swiss Festival cheese contest and the two previous contests of the year to determine the Grand Champion Swiss cheesemaker in Ohio. This year’s Ohio Swiss Festival will be held Sept. 28-29.

Ellis adds that Ohio’s Swiss cheesemakers also have gained recognition on a national and international level.

“Swiss cheese and Ohio are kind of synonymous,” he says. “When it comes to U.S. and world cheese competitions, people are used to seeing Swiss cheese from Ohio in top winners categories most of the time.”

• Local milk

One unique aspect of Ohio’s cheese and dairy industry is the many local Amish farms that provide manufacture-grade milk to the cheesemakers.

“Our area has the largest concentrated community of Amish in the entire world,” Guggisberg-Bennett says. “There are lots of Amish farms, and they need a place to send their milk. The local cheese houses can provide that.”

Guggisberg Cheese gets its milk from 140 mostly local farms, both Amish and conventional. She says attributes of the land lend specific characteristics to the milk and cheese made in this area.

“In the Doughty Valley, a long time ago glaciers came through and deposited minerals in the soil,” Guggisberg-Bennett explains. “The cows consume those minerals, and that’s what makes the milk unique and gives our cheese a unique flavor.”

Ohio currently has 1,781 Grade A dairy farms as well as 412 manufacture grade farms, of which 271 farms — mainly Amish-owned — still transport milk in cans rather than modern tankers, according to Roger Tedrick, chief of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Dairy Division.

“Some cannot use electricity or use bulk tanks,” he says. “They will milk the cows, put the milk in cans and put them out at the end of the road. A truck picks up the cans and takes them to the cheese plant.”

Through the years, Tedrick says, the number of cheesemakers processing canned milk has dwindled, and today most of the cheese made in Ohio is made from Grade A milk. He adds that 98-99 percent of the milk in Ohio is Grade A.

Ohio is home to a total 139 licensed dairy manufacturers, including fluid milk, cheese, powder and frozen desserts. These manufacturers process about 5.8 billion pounds of milk each year, while Ohio’s dairy farmers produce around 5.6 billion pounds of milk, making it a milk-deficit state.

“There is a lot of milk from out of state that gets processed in Ohio,” Ellis says, adding that over the past five years, Ohio has lost about 25 percent of its farms. “There is some concern about how far dairy production might drop if the exodus of farmers continues. As some plants and large processors across the borders in Indiana and Michigan take shape, long-term we wonder if there will be enough in Ohio as those take on big volumes of milk.”

Tedrick says price is one of the major challenges for dairy producers, which has resulted in more farmstead processing operations.

“Because of this we have seen an uptick in on-farm processing to include all dairy prices,” Tedrick says. “Simply farms are vertically integrating to get closer to the consumer dollar.”

On the processor side, Ohio has attracted some new manufacturing plants in recent years, including Meijer’s dairy plant in Tipp City as well as Green Field Farms, a local organic dairy in north central Ohio.

Current manufacturers also are expanding. Guggisberg cheese recently installed a new production line at its Sugarcreek facility, and it aims to complete a multi-year expansion project by the end of this year.

“From what I see, there is a lot of investment going on in Swiss cheese plants in Ohio,” Ellis says. “There also is more whey processing, and several plants are investing in new wastewater operations — long-term investments. For the 13 major Swiss cheese plants, most plan on being around for a while and continuing to grow.”

CMN

U.S.-Mexico preliminary trade deal to remove tariffs

Aug. 31, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration this week announced it has secured a preliminary U.S.-Mexico trade agreement as part of NAFTA renegotiations.

Under the pact, tariffs on agricultural products traded between the two countries would remain at zero. However, because the U.S. administration is still imposing tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum imports, the retaliatory tariffs that Mexico imposed on certain U.S. cheeses still remain in place.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) also announced that for the first time in a U.S. trade agreement, the countries have agreed to not restrict market access in Mexico for U.S. cheeses labeled with certain names. A list of protected cheese names has not yet been released.

Specifically, USTR stated that the agreement will contain geographical indication (GI) standards that:

• Enhance transparency for opposition and cancellation proceedings for GIs;

• Establish a mechanism to consult on GIs pursuant to international agreements; and

• Allow for additional factors that may be considered in determining whether a term is a common name instead of a GI.

The preliminary agreement also reportedly contains provisions to enhance sanitary and phytosanitary measures; commitments to improve transparency and consultations on matters affecting trade between the two countries; and new protections for proprietary food formulas.

Details regarding these provisions have yet to be released.

“This is nothing short of a great victory for farmers and ranchers, because locking in our access to Mexican markets is critical to supporting farm income and strengthening rural communities,” says U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Mexico has historically been a great customer and partner, and we are happy to have this resolved for our agricultural producers.”

The administration is expected to formally notify Congress and publish the text of the agreement later this week. U.S. Trade Promotion Authority rules require the text of any trade agreement to be published 90 days before it is signed.

Both the United States and Mexico have indicated they want to sign the agreement before Dec. 1 so current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto can execute it on behalf of Mexico. This would forestall the possibility that Mexico’s incoming president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, could demand changes to the agreement after he takes office.

Stakeholders say Canada also could be added to this agreement before it is formally announced.

Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland arrived earlier this week in Washington, D.C., for talks on the remaining issues. The ongoing effort to eliminate Canada’s Class 7 pricing program, as well as increase market access for U.S. dairy products, is expected to be a dominant part of the next round of negotiations, stakeholders say.

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC), a farmer-led national lobbying organization, applauds President Trump, Perdue and USTR Ambassador Lighthizer for their efforts to reach a trade agreement between Mexico and the United States.

ADC says it looks forward to reaching an agreement with Canada in the near future and achieving an updated and fair NAFTA that will provide the nation’s dairy farmers the confidence and access to pivotal markets to grow their businesses.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) also praised the announcement on trade progress.

Rob Larew, senior vice president of public policy and communications, NFU, says the news is a positive step toward putting in place a trade deal that rewrites the current rules of international trade to put family farmers and ranchers on an even playing field with multinational corporations.

“While this is an important step, there is still much work to be done on the part of U.S. negotiators to secure balanced trade and renewed sovereignty for American agriculture,” Larew says. “Farmers Union urges the administration to work tactfully with our Mexican and Canadian trading partners to institute a new, fair trade NAFTA.”

Zippy Duvall, president, AFBF, says U.S. farmers and ranchers are ready to move forward on trade with their nearest neighbors.

“Based on the gains both sides have seen with NAFTA, we expect this new ‘U.S.-Mexico Preliminary Agreement in Principle’ to build on that success for our farmers and ranchers,” Duvall says.

“No trade deal is perfect, however,” he adds. “There is room for improvement ... in a time when the U.S. economy is booming and our farmers have been left behind. Open markets and good trade agreements will give American agriculture the opportunity to be a part of this booming economy.”

CMN


Data Specialists Inc. acquired by Dairy.com

Aug. 31, 2018

FRISCO, Texas — Dairy.com, a global provider of software as service solutions for dairy supply chains, is acquiring Data Specialists Inc. (DSI), a technology company with multiple platforms deployed across the dairy industry. The combined companies will result in more than 100 employees providing software, intelligence and service offerings in four main locations

Founded by Sherrie and Richard Mertes in 1980, DSI provides producer payroll, procurement, manufacturing ERP, financial and warehouse/distribution management software. More than 180 dairy and food plants nationwide use DSI tools.

“DSI and the Mertes family are dairy technology pioneers, developing and delivering solutions that have fueled customer success for nearly 40 years,” says Dairy.com CEO Scott Sexton. “Adding DSI to our portfolio materially broadens Dairy.com offerings. Connecting platforms takes us to places we have not been. In particular, the DSI manufacturing suite is a powerful solution that handles complex in-plant processes, further extending Dairy.com traceability capabilities across the supply chain.”

DSI President Ryan Mertes will become president of the DSI division of Dairy.com and chief solutions officer of Dairy.com. The DSI division will maintain operations from its base in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

“Joining with Dairy.com allows our employees to create the largest pool of dairy talent available,” Mertes says. “We believe the combination is going to provide exciting and unique solutions. We can’t wait to discuss the breadth, scope and benefits with the industry we’ve spent decades supporting.”

With this acquisition, Dairy.com’s offerings now include an expanded portfolio of procurement tools, plant tools and management tools.

Founded in 2000, Dairy.com is based in Frisco, Texas. In 2013, it purchased Blimling Companies, adding locations in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as Chicago.

CMN

New plant gives Queso Campesino ability to serve additional customers

By Kate Sander

BRUSH, Colo. — Queso Campesino, which began cheese production in its new facility in Brush, Colorado, in 2017, is positioning itself for growth and looking for new customers and distributors who seek authentic Hispanic-style cheeses.

Officially known as Colorado Ranchers Inc., the company is often known by its brand name, Queso Campesino, which can be translated as “working man’s cheese.” It is owned by managing partner Gabriel Robles, who has long specialized in Hispanic cheese, along with other investors. The cheese is available throughout the United States.

Robles says his aim is to provide both Hispanic and Anglo consumers with high-quality, authentic Hispanic cheese and great customer service. He has worked long and hard to get to this point, and he is excited about the possibilities the company’s new plant affords.

When the company was first founded in the 1990s, it briefly made Asadero, Queso Fresco and Menonita, a mild semi-firm cheese comparable to extra mild Gouda, in a small plant. For the rest of its cheese, the company contracted with producers throughout the United States and Mexico to market 13 other Mexican cheeses. Eventually, though, all of its cheeses were made by partners, and the company focused on marketing.

“We took it as a challenge to go through the United States to cherry pick the best cheese,” Robles says.

“We’ve built the business a little differently,” adds Lynn Rimpley, vice president of sales and marketing. “Some companies start with the plant and move to the product, but we’ve focused on product, product, product, which is more important than the plant. The company focused on creating an image and procuring product with the right flavor.”




Aug. 24, 2018

MADISON, Wis. — A wheel of Private Reserve made by Emmi Roth USA, Fitchburg, Wisconsin, was selected as the Cheese and Butter Grand Champion of the World Dairy Expo (WDE) Championship Dairy Product Contest.

Whole Chocolate Milk from Prairie Farms Dairy, Somerset, Kentucky, was selected as the Grade A Grand Champion, and Old Fashioned Vanilla ice cream produced by Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, Madison, Wisconsin, was the Ice Cream Grand Champion at the contest.

This year’s contest, sponsored by the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association (WDPA), received 1,402 entries for cheese, butter, fluid milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, sour cream, sherbet, cultured milk, sour cream dips, whipping cream, whey and creative/innovative products from dairy processors throughout North America.

“As the only dairy product contest of its kind, this special event promotes the entire dairy industry and its wide spectrum of nutritious and flavorful dairy products,” says Brad Legreid, executive director, WDPA. “Everyone benefits from this contest, including the first-place winners, all participating companies, food banks and college students pursuing dairy careers. This contest is a complete win-win for everyone in the dairy industry.”

Judging was held Aug. 21-23 at Madison College Culinary Arts School in Madison, Wisconsin.

The contest’s auction will be held Oct. 2 at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, at which time all category first-place winners will be auctioned off. A portion of the proceeds from the contest auction will be used to fund scholarships awarded annually to deserving students pursuing careers in the dairy industry. For more information on the contest and auction please call 608-836-3336.

The top three winners in each category are as follows:

• Cheddar

First: Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), Blair, Wisconsin, Cheddar, 99.20.

Second: Sartori Co., Plymouth, Wisconsin, Sartori Reserve Cheddar, 99.15.

Third: AMPI, Jim Falls, Wisconsin, Mild Cheddar, 98.80.

• Sharp Cheddar

First: Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Wisconsin, Sharp Cheddar, 98.80.

Second: CROPP/Organic Valley Co-op, LaFarge, Wisconsin, Pasteurized Sharp Cheddar, 98.60.

Third: Foremost Farms USA, Marshfield, Wisconsin, Sharp Cheddar, 98.45.

• Aged Cheddar

First: Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Wisconsin, 99.20.

Second: Masters Gallery Foods, Plymouth, Wisconsin, 98.95.

Third: Cabot Cooperative Creamery, Danville, Vermont, 98.65.

• Colby, Monterey Jack

First: AMPI, Jim Falls, Wisconsin, Colby/Monterey Jack Blend, 98.95.

Second: AMPI, Jim Falls, Wisconsin,Monterey Jack, 98.90.

Third: AMPI, Sanborn, Iowa, Monterey Jack, 99.00.

• Swiss Styles

First: Lactalis American Group, Buffalo, New York, Imported Madrigal Cheese Wheel, 99.00.

Second: Prairie Farms Dairy Cheese Division, Monona, Iowa, Swiss Block, 98.05.

Third: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Happy Farms Swiss Cheese Block, 97.85.

• Brick, Muenster

First: Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Brick, 99.65.

Second: Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Caraway Brick, 99.60.

Third: Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Muenster, 99.55.

• Mozzarella

First: Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), Turlock, California, LMWM Mozzarella-Jesus Santiago’s Team, 99.35.

Second: DFA, Turlock, California, LMWM Mozzarella-Angel Delgadillo’s Team, 99.20.

Third: DFA, Turlock, California, LMWM Mozzarella-Maria Godinez’s Team, 99.15.

• Fresh Mozzarella

First: Formaggio Cheese, Hurleyville, New York, Marinated Mozzarella, 99.80.

Second: Lactalis American Group, Nampa, Idaho, Galbani Fresh Mozzarella Marinated Cherry, 99.75.

Third: Miceli Dairy Products, Cleveland, Ohio, Fresh Mozzarella Log, 99.70.

• String Cheese

First: CROPP/Organic Valley Coop, LaFarge, Wisconsin, String Cheese, 99.95.

Second: Baker Cheese Inc., St. Cloud, Wisconsin, LM Part Skim Mozzarella String Cheese, 99.70.

Third: Upstate Farms Cheese, Buffalo, New York, LMPS String Cheese, 99.65.

• Provolone

First: Foremost Farms USA, Clayton, Wisconsin, Natural Flavor Provolone, 99.60.

Second: Foremost Farms USA, Athens, Wisconsin, Provolone, 99.55.

Third: Southeastern Grocers, Jacksonville, Florida, Sliced Smoked Provolone Natural Cheese, 99.50.

• Blue Veined Cheeses

First: Prairie Farms Dairy Cheese Division, Faribault, Minnesota, Gorgonzola Cheese, 99.80.

Second: Prairie Farms Dairy Cheese Division, Faribault, Minnesota, St. Pete’s Select Blue Cheese, 99.75.

Third: Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Point Reyes, California, Point Reyes Original Blue, 99.55.

• Smoked Flavored Natural Cheeses

First: Fair Oaks Farms, Fair Oaks, Indiana, Smoked Gouda, 99.30.

Second: ALDI, Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Happy Farms Preferred Cheddar Apple Smoked Cheese, 97.60.

Third: ALDI, Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Specially Selected Double Smoked Cheddar, 97.35.

• Pepper Flavored Natural Cheeses

First: Baker Cheese Factory Inc., St. Cloud, Wisconsin, Jalapeno Flavored String Cheese-A, 99.50.

Second: Ellsworth Co-op Creamery, Comstock, Wisconsin, Jalapeno Pepper Jack, 99.45.

Third: Baker Cheese Factory Inc., St. Cloud, Wisconsin, Jalapeno Flavored String Cheese-B, 99.40.

• Flavored Natural Cheeses

First: Formaggio Italian Cheese, Hurleyville, New York, Betta Brie 8-ounce wheel of Brie with 8 ounces of Cranberry & Almond topping, 99.45.

Second: Lake Country Dairy/Schuman Cheese, Comstock, Wisconsin, Dijon Herb Rubbed Fontal, 99.35.

Third: Best Cheese, Purchase, New York, Parrano Truffle, 99.25.

• Cold Pack Cheese, Cheese Food, Cheese Spread

First: Williams Cheese Co., Linwood, Michigan, Pineapple Habanero Cream Cheese Spread, 99.60.

Second: Lactalis American Group, Merrill, Wisconsin, Black Diamond Extra Sharp Cheddar Soft Spreadable Cheese, 99.55.

Third: Williams Cheese Co., Linwood, Michigan, Raspberry Pineapple Cream Cheese Spread, 99.50.

• Reduced Fat

First: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Fit & Active Reduced Fat Light String Cheese, 99.00.

Second: Foremost Farms USA, Clayton, Wisconsin, Reduced Fat Provolone, 98.95.

Third: Foremost Farms USA, Clayton, Wisconsin, Reduced Fat Provolone, 98.85.

• Mascarpone

First: Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wisconsin, Mascarpone, 99.75.

Second: Lake Country Dairy/Schuman Cheese, Comstock, Wisconsin, Cello Mascarpone, 99.20.

Third: Lake Country Dairy/Schuman Cheese, Comstock, Wisconsin, Cello Rich and Creamy Mascarpone, 99.05.

• Feta

First: Nasonville Dairy, Marshfield, Wisconsin, Feta Cheese in Brine, 99.60.

Second: Hy-Vee, Des Moines, Iowa, Soiree Feta Cheese, 99.35.

Third: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Happy Farms Feta in Brine, 99.25.

• Brie and Camembert

First: Lactalis USA, Belmont, Wisconsin, Brie Double Cream, 99.40.

Second: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Happy Farms Preferred Garlic & Herb Mini Brie Round, 99.20.

Third: Lactalis USA, Belmont, Wisconsin, Imported French Triple Crème Brie, 99.15.

• Ricotta

First: Lactalis American Group, Buffalo, New York, Whole Milk Ricotta, 99.60.

Second: Upstate Farms Cheese, Buffalo, New York, Whole Milk Clean Deck Ricotta, 99.55.

Third: Upstate Farms Cheese, Buffalo, New York, Part Skim Clean Deck Ricotta, 99.35.

• Open Class Soft Cheese

First: Marquez Brothers International Inc., Hanford, California, Panela, 99.85.

Second: Marquez Brothers International Inc., Hanford, California, Fresco Cremoso, 99.65.

Third: Savencia Cheese USA, New Holland, Pennsylvania, Dorothy’s Comeback Cow, 99.55.

• Open Class Semi-Soft Cheese

First: Marquez Brothers International Inc., Hanford, California, Queso Fresco Tray, 99.50.

Second: Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Blanco, 99.15.

Third: Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Queso Para Fundir, 99.00.

• Open Class Hard Cheeses

First: Emmi Roth USA, Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Private Reserve Wheel, 99.45.

Second: Emmi Roth USA, Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Roth Grand Cru Reserve Wheel, 99.30.

Third: Savencia Cheese USA, New Holland, Pennsylvania, Esquirrou Ossau Iraty, 99.20.

• Flavored Pasteurized Process Cheese

First: AMPI, Portage, Wisconsin, Colored American Cheese Slice on Slice, 99.70.

Second: AMPI, Portage, Wisconsin, American Swiss Cheese Slice on Slice, 99.40.

Third: AMPI, Portage, Wisconsin, Pasteurized Process Colored American Cheese Loaf, 99.30.

• Latin American Cheese

First: La Vaquita Dairy Farmers of America, Houston, Texas, Queso Fresco, 99.83.

Second: V&V Supremo Foods, Chicago, Illinois, Queso Fresco, 99.80.

Third: V&V Supremo Foods, Chicago, Illinois, Oaxaca Cheese Ball, 99.78.

• Goat Milk Cheese

First: LaClare Family Creamery, Malone, Wisconsin, Evalon-Aged Goat Cheese, 99.15.

Second: Lactalis American Group, Buffalo, New York, Don Bernardo Manchego Curado Wheels, 99.05.

Third: Upstate Farms Cheese, Buffalo, New York, Riccottone Cheese, 98.95.

• Plain Cream Cheese (including Neufchatel)

First: Prairie Farms Dairy Cheese Division, Monona, Iowa, Cream Cheese Loaf, 98.70.

Second: Kraft Heinz Co., Lowville, New York, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, 99.65.

Third: Savencia Cheese USA, New Holland, Pennsylvania, Smithfield Cream Cheese, 99.61.

• Flavored Cream Cheese

First: Savencia Cheese USA, New Holland, Pennsylvania, Alouette Cucumber & Dill Spread, 99.85.

Second: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Onion and Chive Cream Cheese, 99.80.

Third: Kraft Heinz Co., Lowville, New York, Philadelphia Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese Spread, 99.70.

• Open Class Cheese

First: Lake Country Dairy/Schuman Cheese, Comstock, Wisconsin, Wash Rind/Smear Ripened “Valis” Cave Aged Over 75 Days, 99.05.

Second: Eckerman Sheep Co., Antigo, Wisconsin, Ewe Mazing 100-percent Sheep Cheese, 99.00.

Third: Best Cheese, Purchase, New York, Robusto, 98.90.

• Salted Butter

First: Foremost Farms USA, Reedsburg, Wisconsin, Salted Butter-3rd Shift, 99.80.

Second: Foremost Farms USA, Reedsburg, Wisconsin, Salted Butter-1st Shift, 99.50.

Third: O-AT-KA Milk Products, Batavia, New York, Salted Butter, 99.35.

• Unsalted Butter

First: DFA, Winnsboro, Texas, Unsalted Butter-Bravo Shift, 99.75.

Second: Cabot Coop Creamery, Danville, Vermont, Unsalted Creamery Butter, 99.70.

Third: O-AT-KA Milk Products, Batavia, New York, Unsalted Butter, 99.55.

• Open Class Butter

First: Shatto Milk Co., Osborn, Missouri, Garlic Butter, 98.40.

Second: DFA, Winnsboro, Texas, Salted Whipped Butter-Delta Shift, 97.85.

Third: DFA, Winnsboro, Texas, Salted Whipped Butter-Charlie Shift, 97.60.

• White Milk (2 Percent Only)

First: Stewarts, Saratoga Springs, New York, 2 percent White Milk, 99.95.

Second: Prairie Farms Dairy, Holland, Indiana, 2 percent White Milk, 99.88.

Third: Dean Foods, Harvard, Illinois, Dairy Pure 2 percent White Milk, 99.85.

• Whole Chocolate Milk

First: Prairie Farms Dairy, Somerset, Kentucky, Whole Chocolate Milk, 99.90.

Second: Country Delite Farms, Nashville, Tennessee, Whole Chocolate Milk, 99.83.

Third: Oakhurst Dairy, Portland, Maine, Whole Chocolate Milk, 99.80.

• Lowfat Chocolate Milk 1 Percent

First: Prairie Farms, Dubuque, Iowa, 1 percent Lowfat Chocolate Milk, 99.70.

Second: Kwik Trip Dairy, La Crosse, Wisconsin, 1 percent Chocolate Milk, 99.68.

Third: Turner Dairy Farms, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Low Fat Chocolate Milk, 99.60.

• Lowfat Chocolate Milk 2 Percent

First: Prairie Farms Dairy, Dubuque, Iowa, 2 percent Lowfat Chocolate Milk, 99.85.

Second: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Kansas City, Missouri, 2 percent Lowfat Chocolate Milk, 99.83.

Third: Umpqua Dairy Products, Roseburg, Oregon, 2 percent Chocolate Milk, 99.80.

• Fat Free Chocolate Milk

First: Prairie Farms Dairy - Turner, Memphis, Tennessee, Fat-Free Chocolate Milk, 99.90.

Second: WW Homestead Dairy, Waukon, Iowa, Non Homogenized Skim Chocolate Milk, 99.75.

Third: Prairie Farms Dairy, Holland, Indiana, Fat-Free Chocolate Milk, 99.70

• Cultured Milk

First: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Norman, Oklahoma, 1 percent Buttermilk, 99.90.

Second: Turner Dairy Farms, Memphis, Tennessee, Cultured Milk, 99.80.

Third: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Ft. Smith, Arkansas, Bulgarian Buttermilk, 99.77.

• Open Class Pasteurized Milk

First: Country Delite Farms, Nashville, Tennessee, Homogenized Vitamin D Milk, 100.

Second: Stewart’s, Saratoga Springs, New York, Whole Milk, 99.95.

Third: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Norman, Oklahoma, Whole Milk, 99.90

• Open Class Flavored Milk

First: MD Enterprises Inc., Lenexa, Kansas, Banana Moon Pie Milk, 100.

Second: Oakhurst Dairy, Portland, Maine, Blueberry Whole Milk, 99.95.

Third: Prairie Farms Dairy, Anderson, Indiana, Chocolate Malt, 99.90.

• Half and Half

First: Prairie Farms Dairy, Jefferson City, Missouri, Half and Half, 100.

Second: Oakhurst Dairy, Portland, Maine, Fresh Half and Half, 99.90.

Third: Producers Dairy Foods, Fresno, California, Half and Half, 99.83

• Heavy Whipping Cream

First: Prairie Farms Dairy, Jefferson City, Missouri, Heavy Whipping Cream, 100.

Second: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Norman, Oklahoma, Heavy Whipping Cream, 99.70.

Third: Prairie Farms Dairy, Granite City, Illinois, Ultra Pasteurized Heavy Whipping Cream, 99.65.

• Plain Greek Yogurt

First: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Friendly Farms Nonfat Yogurt, 99.85.

Second: Upstate Niagara Cooperative, West Seneca, New York, Plain Greek Yogurt, 99.60.

Third: Cabot Co-op Creamery, Danville, Vermont, Plain 10 percent Greek Yogurt, 99.40

•Flavored Greek Yogurt (Nonfat, Any Flavor)

First: Hy-Vee, Des Moines, Iowa, Nonfat Vanilla Greek Yogurt, 98.90.

Second: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Friendly Farms 100 Cal Nonfat Tropic Fruit Greek Yogurt, 98.40.

Third: Upstate Niagara Cooperative, West Seneca, New York, Nonfat Greek Pineapple Yogurt, 97.90.

• Flavored Greek Yogurt (1 percent or Any Flavor)

First: Southeastern Grocers, Jacksonville, Florida, Whole Milk Vanilla Greek Yogurt, 99.80.

Second: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Friendly Farms Whole Milk Greek Yogurt - Lemon Meringue, 98.75.

Third: Schreiber Foods, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Fruit on the Bottom Lemon Greek Yogurt, 98.45

• Vanilla Yogurt

First: Schreiber Foods, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt, 99.70.

Second: CROPP/Organic Valley Co-op, LaFarge, Wisconsin, Grassmilk Vanilla Yogurt, 99.40.

Third: Prairie Farms Dairy, Quincy, Illinois, Vanilla Yogurt, 99.30.

• Strawberry Yogurt

First: Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, New York, Lowfat Blended Strawberry Yogurt, 98.80.

Second: Southeastern Grocers, Jacksonville, Florida, No Sugar Strawberry Yogurt, 98.00.

Third: Hy-Vee, Des Moines, Iowa, Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt, 97.90.

• Blueberry Yogurt

First: Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, New York, Lowfat Blended Blueberry Yogurt, 99.90

Second: Prairie Farms, Quincy, Illinois, Blueberry Yogurt, 99.55.

Third: CROPP/Organic Valley Co-op, LaFarge, Wisconsin, Grassmilk Blueberry Yogurt, 99.40.

• Tropical Flavored Drinkable Yogurts

First: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Pueblo Lindo Mango Lowfat Drinkable Yogurt, 99.80.

Second: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Pueblo Lindo Strawberry Lowfat Drinkable Yogurt, 99.70.

Third: Marquez Brothers International Inc., Hanford, California, Pina Colada Drinkable Yogurt, 99.65.

• Open Class Drinkable Yogurt

First: Marquez Brothers International Inc., Hanford, California, Strawberry Yogurt, 100.

Second: Marquez Brothers International Inc., Hanford, California, Peach Yogurt, 99.95.

Third: Weber’s Farm Store, Marshfield, Wisconsin, Raspberry Flavored Kefir, 99.90.

• Regular Cottage Cheese

First: Umpqua Dairy Products, Roseburg, Oregon, Regular Cottage Cheese, 99.50.

Second: Dean Foods, Rockford, Illinois, Small Curd Cottage Cheese 4 percent, 99.30.

Third: Belfonte Ice Cream & Dairy Foods, Kansas City, Missouri, 4 percent Small Curd Cottage Cheese, 99.20.

• Lowfat and No Fat Cottage Cheese

First: Dean Foods Co., Rockford, Illinois, 2 percent Lowfat Cottage Cheese, 99.45

Second: Hiland Dairy, Chandler, Oklahoma, Lowfat Cottage Cheese, 99.25.

Third: Prairie Farms Dairy, Carbondale, Illinois, No Fat Cottage Cheese, 99.20

• Open Flavor Cottage Cheese

First: Dean Foods Co., Rockford, Illinois, 2 percent Cottage Cheese with Mix Ins, 99.40.

Second: Kemps, Cedarburg, Wisconsin, Pineapple Cottage Cheese, 99.30.

Third: Hiland Dairy, Wichita, Kansas, Open Class Cottage Cheese, 99.20.

• Sour Cream

First: Umpqua Dairy Foods, Roseburg, Oregon, 99.35.

Second: Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, New York, 99.10

Third: Cabot Cooperative Creamery, Danville, Vermont, 99.05.

• Lowfat Sour Cream

First: Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, New York, Lite Sour Cream, 99.88.

Second: Cabot Cooperative Creamery, Danville, Vermont, Lowfat Sour Cream, 99.75.

Third: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Omaha, Nebraska, Light Sour Cream, 97.90.

• Sour Cream Based Dips - Onion

First: Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, New York, French Onion Dip, 99.50.

Second: Dean Foods Co., Rockford, Illinois, French Onion Dip - LOL, 99.30.

Third: Westby Cooperative Creamery, Westby, Wisconsin, French Onion Dip, 99.05.

• Sour Cream Based Dips - Southwest

First: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Omaha, Nebraska, Salsa Dip, 99.70,

Second: Prairie Farms Dairy, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Jalapeno Dip, 99.00.

Third: Kemps, Cedarburg, Wisconsin, Mid AM Taco Fiesta Dip, 98.60.

• Open Sour Cream Based Dips

First: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Omaha, Neb., Ranch with Dill Dip, 99.75.

Second: Prairie Farms Dairy, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, 99.58.

Third: Hiland Dairy Foods Co. LLC, Omaha, Nebraska, Bacon Cheddar Dip, 99.50.

• Regular Vanilla Ice Cream

First: Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, Madison, Wisconsin, Old Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream, 99.20.

Second: Lochmead Dairy, Junction City, Oregon, Vanilla Ice Cream, 99.15.

Third: Hiland Dairy Foods Co. LLC, Tyler, Texas, Regular Vanilla Ice Cream, 99.10.

• French Vanilla Ice Cream

First: Arethusa Farm Dairy, Litchfield, Connecticut, Old Fashioned French Vanilla Ice Cream, 99.65.

Second: Southeastern Grocers, Jacksonville, Florida, French Vanilla Ice Cream, 99.35.

Third: Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, Madison, Wisconsin, Ice Cream French Vanilla, 99.30.

• Philly Vanilla Ice Cream

First: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, 99.60.

Second: Hudsonville Ice Cream, Holland, Michigan, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, 99.30.

Third: Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, Madison, Wisconsin, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, 99.25.

• Regular Chocolate Ice Cream

First: Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, Madison, Wisconsin, 99.85.

Second: Hiland Dairy Foods, Springfield, Missouri, 99.70.

Third: Hiland Dairy Foods, Tyler, Texas, 99.65

• Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

First: Lochmead Dairy, Junction City, Oregon, 99.00.

Second: Stewart’s, Saratoga Springs, New York, 98.90.

Third: Rococo Ice Cream, Berwick, Maine, 98.70.

• Cookie Dough PB Ice Cream

First: Oberweis Diary, North Aurora, Illinois, Cookie Dough PB Ice Cream, 98.55.

Second: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream, 98.35.

Third: Muller Pinehurst/Prairie Farms, Rockford, Illinois, Johnsons Cookie Dough, 97.90.

• Mint Ice Cream

First: Stewart’s, Saratoga Springs, New York, Mint Cookie Crumble Ice Cream, 99.85.

Second: Rococo Ice Cream, Berwick, Maine, Creme De Menthe Ice Cream, 99.80.

Third: Kwik Trip Dairy, La Crosse, Wisconsin, Mint Chip Ice Cream, 99.75.

• Open Class Flavored Fruit Ice Cream

First: Arethusa Farm Dairy, Jacksonville, Florida, Strawberry Ice Cream, 99.45.

Second: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Strawberry Ice Cream, 99.40.

Third: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Thank You Cherry Much, 99.35.

• Ice Cream with Nuts

First: Oberweis Dairy, North Aurora, Illinois, Coconut Chocolate Almond Ice Cream, 99.43.

Second: Oberweis Dairy, North Aurora, Illinois, Honey Butter Cashew Ice Cream, 98.85.

Third: Southeastern Grocers, Jacksonville, Florida, Coconut Almond Fudge Ice Cream, 98.80.

• Ice Cream with Peanut Butter

First: Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, Madison, Wisconsin, Peanut Butter Hearts Chocolate, 100.

Second: Cedar Crest Ice Cream, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, #LUV Peanut Butter Custard, 99.90.

Third: Kemps, Cedarburg, Wisconsin, Peanut Butter Chocolate Pretzel, 99.80.

• Ice Cream with Caramel

First: King Cone LLC, Plover, Wisconsin, Salty Caramel Truffle Ice Cream, 99.85.

Second: Oberweis Dairy, North Aurora, Illinois, DK Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream, 99.83.

Third: Rococo Ice Cream, Berwick, Maine, Salted Caramel Ice Cream, 99.75.

• Open Class Ice Cream

First: Ice Cream Specialties, St. Louis, Missouri, Pucker Power Bars - Lemon & Wild Cherry, 99.90.

Second: Ice Cream Specialties, St. Louis, Missouri, Pucker Power Bars - Green Apple/Watermelon, 99.70.

Third: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Lemon Italian Ice Cream Cup, 99.50.

• Ice Cream Sandwiches

First: Whitey’s Ice Cream Manufacturing Inc., Moline, Illinois, Chipper - I.C. Sandwich, 99.90.

Second: Kelley Country Creamery, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Red Velvet Cookie, 99.80.

Third: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Vanilla I.C. Sandwich, 99.75.

• Open Class Sherbet

First: Kemps, Cedarburg, Wisconsin, Raspberry, 100.

Second: Kemps, Cedarburg, Wisconsin, Rainbow Sherbet, 99.50.

Third: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Rainbow Sherbet, 98.50.

• Frozen Yogurt

First: Southeastern Grocers, Jacksonville, Florida, Black Cherry Frozen Yogurt, 99.65.

Second: Kemps, Cedarburg, Wisconsin, Twisted Dough Frozen Yogurt, 99.60.

Third: Gifford’s Dairy, Skowhegan, Maine, Lemon Wafer Cookie Frozen Yogurt, 99.50.

• Gelato

First: Stewart’s, Saratoga Springs, New York, Pistachio, 99.50.

Second: Southeastern Grocers, Jacksonville, Florida, White Chocolate Raspberry Gelato, 99.00.

Third: Stewart’s, Saratoga Springs, New York, Bananas Foster Gelato, 98.90.

• Whey

First: Saputo Cheese USA Inc., Lincolnshire, Illinois, Sweet Whey Powder, 99.80.

Second: Foremost Farms USA, Baraboo, Wisconsin, Sweet Whey Powder, 99.75.

Third: Foremost Farms USA, Richland Center, Wisconsin, TEKLAC Sweet Dairy Whey, 99.60.

• Whey Permeate

First: Prairie Farms Dairy Cheese Division, Monona, Iowa, Extra Grade Sweet Whey Powder, 99.80.

Second: Lactalis American Group, Nampa, Idaho, Lactowell Whey Permeate Powder, 99.60.

Third: Cabot Cooperative Creamery, Danville, Vermont, Agri-Mark Whey Permeate, 99.55.

• Whey Protein Concentrate -34 percent

First: AMPI Paynesville, Paynesville, Minnesota, Whey Protein Concentrate 34 percent, 99.90.

Second: Foremost Farms USA, Sparta, Wisconsin, Whey Protein Concentrate 34 percent Powder, 99.80.

Third: Saputo Cheese USA Inc., Lincolnshire, Illinois, WPC 35 percent, 99.65.

• Whey Protein Concentrate -80 percent

First: Saputo Cheese USA Inc., Lincolnshire, Illinois, WPC 80 percent Instant, 99.90.

Second: Farmdale Creamery, San Bernardino, California, WPC 80 percent, 99.80.

Third: AMPI, Paynesville, Minnesota, WPC 80 percent, 99.60.

• Whey Protein Isolates

First: Lactalis American Group, Nampa, Idaho, Whey Protein Isolate Powder, 99.90.

Second: Gallo Global Nutrition, Atwater, California, Whey Protein Isolate, 99.70.

Third: Gallo Global Nutrition, Atwater, California, Whey Protein Isolate - Organic 90, 99.50.

• Nonfat Dried Milk

First: Continental Dairy Facilities LLC, Coopersville, Michigan, 99.25.

• Open Class for Creative & Innovative Products

First: Marquez Brothers International, Hanford, California, Cajeta, 99.00

Second: ALDI Inc., Batavia, Illinois, Friendly Farms Tilts Greek Yogurt - Coconut, 96.17.

Third: Schreiber Foods, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Chocolate Cream Frosting, 96.00.

CMN

July milk production climbs 0.4 percent in major states

Aug. 24, 2018

WASHINGTON — Milk production in the 23 major milk-producing states during July totaled 17.30 billion pounds, up 0.4 percent from July 2017, according to data recently released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Milk Production chart.)

June revised production in the 23 major states, at 17.21 billion pounds, was up 1.6 percent from June 2017. The June revision represented an increase of 40 million pounds or 0.2 percent from last month’s preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major states averaged 1,980 pounds for July, 8 pounds above July 2017. This is the highest production per cow for the month of July since the 23-state series began in 2003, NASS says.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major states was 8.74 million head, 1,000 head more than July 2017, but 8,000 head less than June 2018.

For the entire United States, NASS reports July milk production was an estimated 18.35 billion pounds, up 0.4 percent from July 2017. Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,953 pounds for July, 10 pounds above July 2017. The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.40 million head, 8,000 head less than July 2017 and 8,000 head less than June 2018.

California led the nation’s milk production with 3.29 billion pounds of milk in July, down 2.5 percent from its production a year earlier. The decline was driven by both a decline in production per cow and a decline in cow numbers. Production per cow in California in July was 1,895 pounds, down 35 pounds from July 2017. There were 1.74 million cows on California farms in July, down 12,000 head from July 2017 but unchanged from June 2018.

Wisconsin followed with 2.62 billion pounds of milk produced in July, up 1.2 percent from its production a year earlier. Production per cow in Wisconsin was up 30 pounds from a year earlier to 2,055 pounds in July 2018, NASS reports. The state was home to 1.27 million cows in July, 4,000 head fewer than in July 2017 but unchanged from June 2018.

Three other states had production of more than a billion pounds in July. Idaho produced 1.31 billion pounds, up 0.8 percent from its production a year earlier; New York produced 1.28 billion pounds, up 0.6 percent; and Texas produced 1.10 billion pounds, up 7.3 percent.

Among the 23 major milk-producing states, Michigan had the highest average production per cow with 2,255 pounds in July, unchanged from the previous year. Colorado was next with an average of 2,245 pounds per cow, down 10 pounds from July 2017. Idaho was third with 2,155 pounds per cow, down 5 pounds from July 2017.

CMN

DairyAmerica, CDI reach M settlement agreement

Aug. 24, 2018

FRESNO, Calif. — DairyAmerica and California Dairies Inc. (CDI) have agreed to a million settlement in a class action lawsuit that alleges the organizations boosted profits by underreporting milk prices to USDA’s National Statistics Service, allegedly intending to lower milk prices they were required to pay dairy farmers.

Plaintiffs last week asked Judge Anthony W. Ishii of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to approve the settlement, which would resolve the litigation that has been going on since 2009. Over that time period the case has been consolidated, dismissed and revived. The million settlement is equal to 80 percent of the alleged financial damages.

Class members eligible for the settlement include all U.S. dairy farmers who, between Jan. 1, 2002, and April 30, 2007, sold raw milk priced according to federal milk marketing order guidelines.

Plaintiffs allege that defendants participated in an unlawful conspiracy with each other and certain other cooperative members to misreport, and that they did misreport, the pricing and volume of sales of nonfat dry milk to USDA.

The defendants have denied and continue to deny all material allegations in the action and have asserted defenses to the plaintiffs’ claims. Nevertheless, DairyAmerica and CDI have agreed to enter into the agreement to avoid further expense, inconvenience and the distraction of burdensome and protracted litigation.

“DairyAmerica and CDI vigorously deny any claims of wrongdoing, and there has been no admission or court finding of liability for any claims. For DairyAmerica and CDI, settling these claims provides a way to bring closure to a long legal process, avoid the expense and uncertainty of further protracted litigation and return their primary focus to their businesses and their members,” says a statement from DairyAmerica and CDI.

CMN


Farm bill meeting with committee set for Sept. 5

Aug. 24, 2018

WASHINGTON — Senate and House agriculture committee leaders this week announced that a public meeting of the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee will be held Sept. 5.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and House Ag Committee Chair K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, along with Ranking Members Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., made the announcement late Wednesday.

“We are pleased to announce a meeting of the full Farm Bill Conference Committee,” committee leaders say. “We are committed to working together on a farm bill that delivers certainty and predictability to our farmers and families as quickly as possible.”

The Farm Bill Conference Committee is composed of 56 members, including nine senators and 47 representatives.

The meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time Sept. 5 at 325 Russell Senate Office Building. The hearing will be webcast live on ag.senate.gov.

The current farm bill expires Sept. 30. Dairy and ag industry stakeholders — including the presidents of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National Farmers Union (NFU) — are urging swift passage of the 2018 Farm Bill by the House-Senate conference committee.

“America’s farmers and ranchers persevere even in the toughest times, but the farm economy has gone from bad to worse,” says Zippy Duvall, AFBF president. “Tariffs and stagnant global demand for commodities have left the agriculture economy in the worst shape we have seen since the farm crisis of the 1980s.

“Lender surveys and our own experience tell us spring could bring a wave of farm closures unless there’s major improvement in the marketplace,” Duvall adds. “Farmers and ranchers need the certainty that the farm bill provides to maintain the food security that all Americans want and need.”

Roger Johnson, president, NFU, says family farmers and ranchers are in need of certainty now.

“Low farm prices due to international trade disruptions, commodity market oversupply and domestic policy uncertainty are putting significant financial strain on farmers,” Johnson says. “If Congress is to provide relief and certainty to those who feed, clothe and fuel our nation, as well as continue the important environmental sustainability work and diverse market promotion of past farm bills, they need to pass a strong farm bill before Sept. 30.”

Meanwhile, AFBF, NFU and more than 150 other agriculture, financial and other organizations recently sent a letter to leaders of the Senate and House agriculture committees asking the farm bill conference committee to pass an on-time, 5-year farm bill before the Sept. 30 expiration of the 2014 Farm Bill.

In addition to AFBF and NFU, the letter was signed by, among others, the National Milk Producers Federation, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Land O’Lakes, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, National All-Jersey, Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold, South East Dairy Farmers Association, Western United Dairymen, American Dairy Science Association, American Society of Nutrition, CoBank, Global Cold Chain Alliance, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Organization and the Organic Trade Association

“Americans must have a 5-year farm bill ahead of the Sept. 30 expiration of the Agricultural Act of 2014. We urge you to quickly reconcile the bills’ differences and pass a conference report so that it can be enacted into law,” the letter says.

CMN


Aug. 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — USDA this week announced plans to purchase whole, 1-percent, 2-percent and skim fluid milk in half gallons for distribution to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).

The first-of-its-kind purchase of fluid milk will be made “under the authority of Section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935, with the purpose to encourage the continued domestic consumption of these products by diverting them from the normal channels of trade and commerce,” USDA says.

USDA notes the purchases are part of the normal operations of administering Section 32 and are not related or associated with the authority or administration of possible purchases under Section 5 of the Commodity Credit Corp. related to trade mitigation. Stakeholders say USDA expects to announce official guidelines for distribution of that previously announced billion aid package for farmers by Aug. 24. (See “Industry reacts to ‘bailout’ for farmers due to tariff pressure” in the July 27, 2018, issue of Cheese Market News.)

Solicitations for this announced fluid milk purchase will be issued in the near future and will be available electronically through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system, USDA says. A hard copy of the solicitation will not be available. All future information regarding this acquisition, including solicitation amendments and award notices, will be published through WBSCM and on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s website at www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food.

USDA says the contract type is anticipated to be firm-fixed price. Deliveries are expected to be to various locations in the United States on an FOB destination basis.

Pursuant to Agricultural Acquisition Regulation 470.103(b), commodities and the products of agricultural commodities acquired under this contract must be a product of the United States and shall be considered to be such a product if it is grown, processed and otherwise prepared for sale or distribution exclusively in the United States. Packaging and container components under this acquisition will be the only portion subject to the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement and Free Trade Agreements, as addressed by FAR clause 52.225-5.

To be eligible to submit offers, potential contractors must meet the AMS vendor qualification requirements. Details of these requirements are available online at www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food/becoming-approved.

A pre-bid conference call to discuss the pending solicitation process will be held Aug. 22 from 1 to 2 p.m. EST. To join the call, dial 888-844-9904 and enter access code 1801764. A transcript of questions and answers will be shared on the AMS Commodity Procurement Website following the call.

The pasteurized fluid milk purchased will be distributed through food assistance programs and food banks, such as those under Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization. Stakeholders say USDA is expected to purchase between 12 to 15 million gallons of milk.

“As many as 41 million Americans, including nearly 13 million children, face hunger daily and are at risk of missing out on essential nutrients when they don’t have access to milk,” says Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. “Simply having more milk available for those in need can make a positive impact on public health.”
Dykes adds this purchase will address one of the United States’ most significant challenges — hunger — and, at the same time, will have a positive impact on the dairy industry at a time of significant market uncertainty.

Julia Kadison, CEO of the Milk Processor Education Program, notes that milk is one of the most requested nutrition staples at food banks, yet it is rarely available.

“As one out of two kids ages 9 and up are falling short on calcium, vitamin D and potassium — essential nutrients that milk provides — there is an even greater need to make sure milk is getting to children and families who need it most,” she says.

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), says NMPF is pleased that USDA now is including fluid milk in the assortment of foods it is buying and donating.

“This effort will help more Americans meet their U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommended daily consumption of milk,” Mulhern says. “We appreciate this initial step and look forward to working with the department to continue building upon this effort.”

For more information, contact Contracting Officer Jeffrey Jackson via email at .

CMN

State fairs offer unique venues for dairy promotion activities

Aug. 17, 2018

By Rena Archwamety

MADISON, Wis. — Each summer, state fairs across the country celebrate agriculture with animal and culinary contests, family entertainment, and an array of foods served fried, on-a-stick, or in unorthodox combinations.

State fairs also traditionally have served as ideal showcases for the dairy industry, mixing food, fun activities and educational opportunities. From milking demonstrations, to grilled cheese and milkshake stands, to butter sculptures and dairy princesses, state and regional dairy organizations put great effort into creating positive and accessible dairy experiences for fairgoers.

“Milk is California’s top agricultural product — significant for such a rich ag state — and nearly 20 percent of the nation’s milk supply comes from here, but consumers are increasingly disconnected, especially in urban centers like Sacramento where the state fair is hosted,” says Jennifer Giambroni, director of communications, California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB). “This is why representation is important for dairy as a way to connect with these local consumers, upwards of 750,000 people each year, so they get a better idea of not only where their food comes from but the assortment of wonderful dairy foods that come from fluid milk.”

In many states, dairy foods and activities are sponsored by farmer-funded organizations, such as CMAB, Midwest Dairy and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. In Wisconsin, much of the activity is organized by the Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board, made up of around 20 individuals from various ag and non-ag backgrounds who are dedicated to supporting the dairy industry. Local dairy processors and suppliers, 4-H clubs and student organizations also often provide support through donating time or resources at the state fairs.

• Cheese, please!

One of the most popular featured foods at many state fairs recently has been grilled cheese sandwiches, ranging from standard American to more elaborate variations.

A new Grilled Bacon Mac and Cheese sandwich debuted at this year’s Missouri State Fair, which opened Aug. 9 and runs through Aug. 19. The featured grilled cheese is sold at the Gerken Dairy Center, one of the Missouri State Fair’s most popular concessions owned by the state’s dairy farm families, along with standard grilled cheese, 19 hand-dipped ice cream flavors and shakes.

“We hadn’t had a new product for quite a while,” says Stacy Dohle, Midwest Dairy’s Missouri State Fair manager. “Earlier this year in March, we did a promotion with a local retailer in Springfield. There was a kids’ cooking class, and some kids put together a mac and cheese, bacon and grilled cheese sandwich. We thought it would be fun at the fair. It’s going over really well so far. Anything with bacon and cheese, how could you go wrong? It looks like it may be a permanent item here before too long.”

The American Dairy Association of Indiana (ADAI) sponsors an annual grilled cheese contest Indiana State Fair, which runs through Aug. 19. The winning grilled cheese then is featured the following year at the Indiana State Fair Dairy Bar, also supported by ADAI.

“It started as a milk tent in the 1940s, where all they served was milk,” says Jenni Browning, senior director of communications and wellness, ADAI. “Now it’s a huge Dairy Bar with a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches and milkshakes, along with milk, pretzels and cheese, yogurt, kids’ meals, scooped ice cream and Mozzarella sticks.”

This year’s featured sandwich (and last year’s contest winner) is the Inside Out grilled cheese, which includes a crunchy crust of mild Cheddar on the outside of garlic bread and Gouda on the inside. The Dairy Bar also sells the Mousetrap Grilled Cheese with slices of medium Cheddar, Havarti and Colby Jack on Texas-style toast, and classic grilled cheeses American on white, Colby on wheat and Muenster on cinnamon raisin bread. The winner of this year’s grilled cheese contest, which will be featured at next year’s Indiana State Fair, is Sweet Blue Haired Granny made with Chicory Blue cheese, Nightshade hard cheese and cultured butter with sea salt from Tulip Tree Creamery, paired with rosemary, Granny Smith apple and Indiana wildflower honey on sourdough.

At the Wisconsin State Fair, which ended Aug. 12, sales at the Real Wisconsin Cheese Grill are the main source of funding for the Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board. This year, the stand made more than 55,000 sandwiches using more than 5,000 pounds of Sargento cheese and 1,000 pounds of butter from Foremost Farms. Varieties included Cheddar, Swiss, Pepper Jack, Gouda and Havarti.

“With that money, we are able to share stories through our House of Moo with milking demonstrations and different activities,” says Katy Katzman, board coordinator, Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board. “Most of this is funded through grilled cheese.”

• Dairy competitions

In addition to traditional livestock competitions, many state fairs feature dairy product competitions and dairy princess crownings, as well as other, less formal contests aimed at making dairy fun. The Oregon State Fair’s Milk Chug-a-lug and Milk Mustache contests, which will be Sept. 1, are sponsored by the state’s dairy princess program that is supported by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. The Chug-a-lug contest, open to anyone, is a race to see who can drink a pint of milk the fastest, while the Milk Mustache contest is geared more toward kids.

“They use a milkshake mix so they can get a good mustache. The dairy princesses will judge to see who has the best mustache, and they get a prize,” says Pete Kent, executive director, Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council.

The Minnesota State Fair, which starts Aug. 23, this year will feature the winner of the fourth annual Flavor of the Fair contest, “That’s S’more Like it,” in malts and sundaes served at Midwest Dairy’s Dairy Goodness Bar. Fairgoers will be encouraged to suggest new creative flavors or possible combinations for the 2019 contest.

“In the spring, we pick three unique flavors and have people vote. This year there were over 2,000 votes,” says Alex Larson, manager, marketing communications, Midwest Dairy.

State Fair-recipe vanilla ice cream or malts will be topped with graham cereal, tiny marshmallows and chocolate syrup, joining traditional flavors at the Minnesota State Fair.

“In addition to continuing to serve favorites like chocolate, vanilla, apple-caramel, rhubarb-strawberry and more, we love to introduce other flavors that get fairgoers excited about what dairy farmers have to offer,” says Alyssa Olson, Midwest Dairy’s Minnesota State Fair project manager.

• Education on display

Butter sculptures, usually featuring cows, are a mainstay at many state fair dairy displays. But the Minnesota State Fair takes a different approach, carving the likeness of the newly-crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way as well as each of the 11 Princess Kay finalists in butter. The butter carvings also serve as an educational opportunity, where Princess Kay and the finalists share their dairy stories and answer questions from the crowd as they take turns sitting inside the 40-degree, rotating sculpting booth. They also will appear in Midwest Dairy’s educational area across from the butter sculptures to share stories and answer questions about farmers’ commitments to health, animal care and the environment. This year’s butter carvings will begin Aug. 23, the day after the new Princess Kay is announced. The dairy princess carvings started at the Minnesota State Fair in 1965.

“It takes about six hours to complete a butter sculpture, Larson says. “They take breaks, but they bundle up and spend the majority of that time in there. It’s very much a moment they savor and remember throughout their life. It’s a very iconic tradition in Minnesota, the butter heads.”

The Iowa State Fair this year introduced its first Farm to Fair Dinner, where 500 guests joined Iowa farmers at the “largest dinner table ever set” at the Iowa State Fair Aug. 12. Attendees had an opportunity to eat, learn, engage and discover facts about Iowa farming and food. A meal made by the Machine Shed restaurant featured locally-sourced ingredients. Included in the meal was milk as well as beef brisket sandwiches topped with cheese.

“We were able to invite 10 of our dairy farmers to the table. So they could have a very engaging conversation, organizers put out a survey asking people what they want to talk about and what questions they had. Some people had dairy questions and questions about milking, so we chose those,” says Alyson Fendrick, manager, marketing communications, Midwest Dairy, Iowa.

At the Wisconsin State Fair, located near Milwaukee, Katzman says interactions with farmers and live animals are some of the most popular dairy-related activities.

“I think because we’re reaching out to a more urban audience, the chance to get up close and personal with live animals is exciting, and they’re going to remember that experience for a lifetime,” she says. “There’s still lots of opportunity to get our message out there. Small and positive interactions the public can have with our industry do go a long way.”

The California Milk Advisory Board featured a panel display on Healthy Communities, Healthy Land, Healthy Cows and Healthy Food at this year’s California State Fair July 13-29. In 2017, a dairy station also was added to the on-site California State Fair Farm in partnership with Dairy Council of California for use during the school year. During the state fair, this information about dairy production and nutrition is available to attendees in the Baby Barn, where they also can access “Cali” the Real California Milk mechanical milking cow.

“The state fair provides a platform for connecting consumers to where their food comes from in a very real way — with the livestock and the people who are responsible for the dairy foods they enjoy,” Giambroni says. “The fair is a unique experience, one of the few places beyond a direct trip to the farm, where you get up close and personal with livestock and can ask a farmer or a farm kid a question about dairy production and on-farm practices and truly understand our shared values.”

CMN

U.S.-Mexico NAFTA talks resume; tariffs continue

Aug. 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — The United States and Mexico this week resumed talks to try to find solutions to the outstanding bilateral issues within the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Canada has not been party to these recent talks.

Movement on U.S.-Mexico issues remains slow, and even once there is consensus, the United States still will have to find solutions to address the U.S.-Canadian differences, notes the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).

President Trump repeatedly has called for the end of Canada’s protectionist dairy policies. As such, Class 7 pricing in Canada likely will be at the center of the discussion when the United States and Canada eventually meet, IDFA says.

Negotiators are also putting off talks on a “sunset clause.” The sunset language would require all three countries to convene every five years to re-approve the agreement or it would be automatically nullified. Canada and Mexico have objected to a NAFTA that includes this stipulation.

IDFA notes it continues to work closely with the administration during these negotiations to ensure market access will be maintained in Mexico and Canada’s Class 7 pricing program is eliminated.

Meanwhile, escalation in tit-for-tat tariff increases continues between the United States and China. This week, news reports say a Chinese delegation led by Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen will, at the invitation of the United States, visit the United States in late August to talk about bilateral economic and trade issues, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOC).

In response to the ongoing tariff disputes, late last week, the Western States Dairy Producers Association (WSDPA) — an association of dairy farmer trade associations including the California Milk Producers Council (MPC), Idaho Dairymen’s Association and others — sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue outlining the significant impacts current trade disputes are having on U.S. farms.

In the letter, the association outlines ways that USDA can use its recently announced billion farmer “bailout” to help the U.S. agriculture industry, particularly the dairy sector. (See “Industry reacts to ‘bailout’ for farmers due to tariff pressure” in the July 27, 2018, issue of Cheese Market News.)

“We calculate that the cost of the trade war to American dairy farmers will be close to .4 billion between June 1, 2018, and the end of this year,” says Kevin Abernathy, general manager, MPC. “This is a huge hit, which causes real pain and damage to the dairy farming community.”

In the letter, WSDPA recommends a compensation process that it says will get the help to where it’s needed in the most direct and expeditious fashion.

“The Western states market a disproportionate percentage of our milk and dairy products to foreign buyers who are now engaged in this trade dispute with the United States,” the letter says. “What this means is that Western dairy farmers are on the front lines in the trade war.”

The letter notes that historically, many dairy assistance programs have been targeted toward small and medium sized farms.
“Dairies in the West are significantly larger than the national average, but the erosion of milk prices as a result of the trade war impacts all dairy farmers on all of their milk production,” the letter says. “Our members implore that any direct payments to dairy farmers be distributed on all milk produced, without production caps. Any other outcomes would disproportionately saddle our member dairies with the consequences of market losses.”

WSDPA says that its recommendation is that USDA provide direct assistance to all dairy producers of per hundredweight of milk produced over a 6-month period of time from June 2018 to November 2018.

“Based on actual milk production for June 2018 and estimates for production going forward, we calculate the cost of such payments to be approximately billion,” the association says.

USDA also has indicated that in addition to direct cash payments to producers, the authority of the Commodity Credit Corp. will be used to develop a program to purchase dairy products directly from the market.

“We have some advice on that issue as well. It is important that any purchases not unnecessarily disrupt the supply/demand balancing that naturally goes on in the dairy industry under normal marketing conditions,” WSDPA says. “We also encourage that purchases of dairy products in addition to cheese, butter and powder be made if it is determined that such purchases would have a greater impact on balancing supply and demand.”

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USDA announces further shuffling of agency offices

Aug. 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently announced further reorganization of USDA that the department says is intended to improve customer service, strengthen offices and programs, and save taxpayer dollars.

The Economic Research Service (ERS), currently under USDA’s Research, Education and Economics mission area, will realign once again with the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) under the Office of the Secretary. Additionally, most employees of ERS and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will be relocated outside of the national capital region. The movement of the employees outside of Washington, D.C., is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

“It’s been our goal to make USDA the most effective, efficient and customer-focused department in the entire federal government,” Perdue says. “In our administration, we have looked critically at the way we do business, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the best service possible for our customers and for the taxpayers of the United States. In some cases, this has meant realigning some of our offices and functions, or even relocating them, in order to make more logical sense or provide more streamlined and efficient services.”

Moving ERS back together with OCE under the Office of the Secretary makes sense because the two have similar missions, Perdue says. ERS studies and anticipates trends and emerging issues, while OCE advises the secretary and Congress on the economic implications of policies and programs. These two agencies were aligned once before, and bringing them back together will enhance the effectiveness of economic analysis at USDA, he says.

Regarding the relocation of ERS and NIFA, Perdue says new locations are yet to be determined, and it is possible that ERS and NIFA may be co-located when their new homes are found. USDA is undertaking the relocations for three main reasons:

• To improve USDA’s ability to attract and retain highly-qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from land grant universities. USDA has experienced significant turnover in these positions, and it has been difficult to recruit employees to the Washington, D.C., area, particularly given the high cost of living and long commutes, Perdue says.

• To place these USDA resources closer to many of stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from the Washington, D.C., area.

• To benefit the American taxpayers. There will be significant savings on employment costs and rent, which will allow more employees to be retained in the long run, even in the face of tightening budgets, Perdue says.

No ERS or NIFA employees will be involuntarily separated. Every employee who wants to continue working will have an opportunity to do so, although that will mean moving to a new location for most. Employees will be offered relocation assistance.

For those who are interested, USDA is seeking approval from the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget for both Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments.

“None of this reflects on the jobs being done by our ERS or NIFA employees, and in fact, I frequently tell my Cabinet colleagues that USDA has the best workforce in the federal government,” Perdue says. “These changes are more steps down the path to better service to our customers, and will help us fulfill our informal motto to ‘Do right and feed everyone.’”

Perdue previously announced other significant changes at USDA. In May 2017, USDA created the first-ever Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and reconstituted and renamed the new Farm Production and Conservation mission area, among other realignments. In addition, in September 2017, Perdue realigned a number of offices to improve customer service and maximize efficiency. Those actions involved consolidation and the rearrangement of certain offices into more logical organizational reporting structures, USDA says.

CMN

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