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Government shutdown looms; lawmakers eye immigration

January 19, 2018

WASHINGTON — The federal government will shut down by the weekend should the Senate fail to pass an appropriations bill to fund the government by midnight tonight.

House Appropriations Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., this week introduced legislation to maintain current funding for federal operations and prevent a government shutdown. The continuing resolution (CR) is a stopgap measure that will extend government funding through Feb. 16, 2018.

In addition to continuing government funding, the bill includes language to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years, a provision that allows the Department of Defense to provide funding for “Missile Defeat and Defense Enhancements” activities, and extensions of several health care-related tax provisions.

“Once again, a continuing resolution is needed to provide government funding and avoid a shutdown. My hope is that House and Senate leadership and the White House can reach consensus quickly on a budget agreement so that essential appropriations work on all 12 government funding bills can be completed,” Frelinghuysen says. “We are now four months into the 2018 fiscal year, and Congress must act as soon as possible to ensure that proper, yearlong funding for our national defense and other critical federal programs is enacted.”

One of the more contentious issues over funding includes the fate of the roughly 690,000 young immigrants who enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program under President Barack Obama’s administration to avoid deportation.
Trump has announced plans to end the DACA program in March, forcing high-stakes negotiations over a legislative fix.

Democrats have insisted that those talks be combined with the debate over a long-term spending accord, which has placed immigration policy at the center of the shutdown drama.

Meanwhile, many House Republicans continue to push for additional defense spending.

There also are members of Congress weighing in on other areas, such as disaster assistance, but defense spending, DACA and CHIP seem to be the issues members of Congress are deciding to draw a line in the sand over and that will likely drive “no” votes on a short-term CR, stakeholders say.

The House passed the short-term CR Thursday evening, but as of press time, media reports indicated the Senate was still short of the 60 votes needed to pass the measure.

• Securing America’s Future Act

Meanwhile, Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760), the latest bill regarding immigration, was introduced last week by House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte and other Republican congressional leaders.

The bill includes numerous reforms to ensure the enforcement of immigration laws in the United States. The legislation aims to reduce the number of individuals who overstay their visas, requires employers to use the E-Verify system to ensure that they hire legal workers and makes it easier to remove individuals who involved in illegal activities. In addition, the legislation cracks down on sanctuary cities by withholding federal grants, and prevents fraud and abuse in the asylum system, according to lawmakers.

The Securing America’s Future Act ends chain migration and eliminates the Diversity Visa program, increasing the number of green cards available for skilled workers and creating a new, workable agricultural guestworker program for America’s farmers and ranchers.

Lawmakers say the bill also strengthens the security of the U.S. southern border by authorizing the construction of a border wall, investing in new technology and improving, modernizing and expanding ports of entry. The bill also calls for an additional 5,000 Border Patrol Agents and 5,000 Customs and Border Protection Officers and requires the use of a biometric entry-exit system at all ports of entry.

The bill allows beneficiaries of the DACA program to receive a 3-year renewable legal status.

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) praised the agriculture guestworker provision included in the legislation.

“It is vital to our industry that this guestworker provision is workable and allows current unlawful workers and additional new workers a legal status which allows them to work at agricultural facilities,” ADC says.

ADC adds that more manpower than ever is needed to milk cows, tend fields and keep the dairy industry viable.

“These low-skilled, but vitally important jobs, are passed up by domestic workers time and time again — regardless of increased starting wages and benefit packages,” ADC says. “These unfilled jobs are important for creating the higher-skilled jobs that employ thousands and thousands of domestic workers.

“The bottom line: If dairy producers cannot find the labor they need, our nation must either import workers or import dairy products from foreign countries,” ADC adds. “Outsourcing our dairy industry would be devastating for not only the dairy industry, but for all domestic workers employed by the economic generation of the dairy industry.”

In a statement released this week, Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), says on behalf of America’s dairy processing industry, IDFA commends Goodlatte for taking a step forward to address the workforce needs of dairy farmers and processors in the Securing America’s Future Act.

“The U.S. dairy sector is increasingly looking to global markets for growth opportunities. We are well-positioned to meet the nutritional needs of a growing world because we have the industry and regulatory standards to assure consumers that our products are safe, the technology to innovate, the infrastructure to deliver to our customers and the natural resources to expand milk production,” Dykes says. “To take full advantage, our industry needs a robust and reliable workforce, and a strong guestworker program will play a critical role in making this happen.

“We appreciate the leadership of Rep. Goodlatte on the guestworker program for agriculture and his willingness to consider the unique needs of our industry,” Dykes adds. “The dairy industry requires labor solutions, and his proposal would move U.S. immigration law in the right direction.”

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), says NMPF is continuing its efforts to shape the direction of the immigration policy process by engaging with leaders in the House and Senate, as well as the White House.

“We remain adamant about the need for lawmakers to address immigration policy, with the goal of negotiating a new guestworker visa program that can gain majority support in both the House and Senate,” Mulhern says.

He adds that recent developments may provide a window of opportunity to advance the process, “but there are a number of major pitfalls and partisan political forces that may blow up this entire process.”

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California Dairies will close Los Banos facility in March

January 19, 2018

VISALIA, Calif. — California Dairies Inc. (CDI) this week announced it will cease operations at its Los Banos, California, manufacturing facility March 17, 2018. The entire facility will close, affecting approximately 63 employees.

In conjunction with the closure, CDI will exit the cream cheese and Neufchatel business, which was served solely by the Los Banos facility. CDI will continue to operate its five other manufacturing facilities and no other product segments will be affected, the company says.

“We deeply regret the impact this decision will have on our Los Banos employees and the community, and are committed to supporting our employees through this transition,” says, Andrei Mikhalevsky, CEO, CDI. “The Los Banos plant has been a valued facility with a long history that has served California Dairies and its members well. Unfortunately, the declining volume of milk in California is affecting the entire dairy industry, and CDI is not immune. These reduced milk volumes, combined with the high cost of operating our Los Banos facility, are the sole drivers behind the decision. This decision is in no way a reflection on the hard work of our talented employees in Los Banos or the high-quality products they have produced.”

The Los Banos facility will ramp down operations over a 60-day period. CDI will be working closely with impacted employees to assist them with this transition. CDI also will work with existing customers to enable a smooth transition in the areas of finished goods supply, packaging inventories and, where feasible, forward pack of finished goods, the company says.

The Los Banos manufacturing facility has been in operation since 1925, where it was first operated as part of San Joaquin Valley Dairymen, before merging with Danish Creamery and California Milk Producers in 1999 to become California Dairies Inc.

CDI continues to have a significant presence not only in California, but also throughout the United States and globally, with plants in Artesia, Fresno, Tipton and Turlock, California as well as its corporate and operations office in Visalia, California.

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Manchego name debated in EU, Mexico agreement

January 19, 2018

MEXICO CITY — Manchego and other cheese names are among issues being negotiated in trade talks between the European Union and Mexico.

Discussions on a new trade agreement took place last week in Mexico City, following up on the seventh round of negotiations just before Christmas. The European Commission reports that a number of areas have been finalized, including competition, small and medium companies, transparency, sanitary issues, good regulatory practices and trade and sustainable development.

Further work still is required on a number of issues related to both market access and rules, including geographical indications (GIs).

The Coalition for Common Food Names (CCFN) noted last month that in Mexico, the EU is seeking sole ownership of cheese names such as feta, asiago and gorgonzola. Manchego also is among the names for which the EU seeks GI protection, which has been a point of dispute.

According to Spain’s Cofradia del Queso Manchego (Brotherhood of Manchego Cheese), Mexican-made “manchego” cheese represents about 15 percent of the cheese market in Mexico, and the Mexican dairy industry strongly opposes the EU’s attempts to prevent them from using this name. Cofradia del Queso Manchego calls Mexico’s use of the cheese name “a full-fledged fraud.”

Meanwhile, CCFN in October provided comments to the Mexican government encouraging Mexico to safeguard common cheese names.

“We encourage them now to maintain healthy trade and competition within their markets, which benefits their consumers, retailers and producers, and maintains fair trade with their trading partners,” says CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda.

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Prairie Farms to expand Michigan processing plant

January 19, 2018

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — Prairie Farms Dairy recently announced that a $29 million investment in its Battle Creek, Michigan, facility is underway. The expansion will allow the company to add jobs, manufacture new specialty products and expand its distribution footprint in the United States.

The company plans to build an extension to its existing manufacturing facility. Construction on the 14,000-square-foot expansion began in November. Renovations also are planned on a previously unused 8,000-square-foot area of the plant. Construction is expected to be complete in April, with processing lines fully operational around Labor Day, the company says.

The state-of-the-art addition will include a processing line for ultra-pasteurized milk, which adds additional shelf-life to the products. This would be used for existing milk and cream products, as well as potential for new items, the company says. The expansion also will include corrugation and palletizing capabilities for existing plant products.

The Battle Creek facility currently employs 200 people, and the expansion will open 16 new positions within the company.
“This expansion allows us to look ahead long-term,” says Tom Davis, general manager of Michigan for Prairie Farms. “This facility has been here since 2003, and I feel this is the right move for Prairie Farms growth in Michigan.”  

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Biery Cheese grows and innovates to meet changing consumer needs

By Kate Sander

LOUISVILLE, Ohio — It’s said the only constant is change, and with that in mind, Biery Cheese Co. is dedicated to adapting to what consumers need and want.

“One of the unique things we do is we’re not afraid to push the envelope and push trends forward,” says Ben Biery, CEO, Biery Cheese. “We’re always challenging ourselves on how we can support a segment or create a new niche market.”

Biery Cheese offers an extensive line of sliced, block, stick, cubed and shredded cheeses for the dairy and deli cases. The company was founded on making traditional Swiss almost 90 years ago, and today has a wide variety of other cheeses offered in its lineup including Creamy Havarti, Cheddar, Mozzarella, Gouda and flavored choices such as Horseradish and Smoked Hot Pepper.

The company also offers naturally smoked cheeses.

On its website, Biery Cheese lays out its vision: “We advance the innovation of food packaging. We provide service standards that others seek to achieve. We strategically expand our customer base. We present unified goals and growth opportunities to become the employer of choice.”

“We work to brainstorm what’s needed by talking to consumers, looking at how they use products and what we can do to improve options for them,” explains Biery, the fourth generation to run the family business. “We want to offer the best appearance and functionality and make sure the value is there for consumers.”

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Wine, beer, spirits add unique flavor, ‘wow’ factor to cheese

January 12, 2018

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — Cheese presents myriad beverage pairing opportunities, from wine and beer to high-end liquor. As consumers become increasingly confident in their flavor exploration, many cheesemakers are cutting out the “middle man” and directly infusing cheeses with alcohol, with delicious results.

According to Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) analysis of data from Information Resources Inc. (IRI), alcohol flavors are rising in popularity in the cheese case. From the more familiar port wine cheese spread to newer cheeses infused with everything from bourbon to Bloody Mary, this segment is tempting to cheese lovers nationwide, WMMB says.

Sales of alcohol-flavored cheese totaled 7.1 million pounds in the past year (52 weeks ending Nov. 5, 2017), up 5.3 percent compared to the previous year, according to WMMB.

WMMB tracks two segments within the alcohol group: wine and “all other alcohol.” The wine segment, at 6.2 million pounds, accounts for the vast majority of sales due to the popularity of port wine cheese spreads. Sales of wine-infused cheese grew 1.8 percent in 2017, WMMB says.

Within the wine segment, port wine-infused cheese sales have held steady, with 0.5 percent growth in 2017, while newer wine flavors are adding both interest and growth, WMMB says.

For example, champagne-flavored cheeses, both wedges and spreads, grew 16.1 percent in 2017, while Merlot-flavored cheeses are up 15.3 percent. Other growing wine flavors include cranberry and port, red wine, and wine and spices, according to WMMB.

Sartori Co., Plymouth, Wisconsin, offers a few alcohol-infused cheeses including its popular Merlot BellaVitano, which consists of Sartori’s Reserve BellaVitano, a rich, creamy cheese, steeped in Merlot.

Maria Sartori, brand ambassador, Sartori Co., says the company’s cheesemakers have tried several different types of alcohol to infuse into Sartori’s cheeses. She notes one important consideration is that the taste of alcohol doesn’t overpower the cheese itself.

“We want people to taste the cheese first, and then impart a taste of wine or other flavoring,” she says.

Andrew Johnson, licensed cheesemaker and outreach specialist/assistant coordinator with the Center for Dairy Research (CDR), Madison, Wisconsin, agrees it’s important to “match” a cheese with an alcohol so as not to overpower the taste of the cheese.

He notes sometimes it can work well to pair “origin with origin,” for example, pairing an Italian-style cheese with an Italian-style wine.

“It’s important to keep in mind that the cheese is still alive — flavors are continuing to develop over time,” Johnson says, noting it’s often beneficial to let a cheese fully develop its flavor before adding alcohol to it.

However, adding alcohol in the actual cheesemaking process is an option, Johnson adds. He says cheesemakers who do this typically soak the curds in alcohol prior to pressing, usually after salting has occurred.

Gina Mode, assistant coordinator, cheese industry and applications, CDR, adds cheesemakers also can wash the outside of a cheese with alcohol, similar to any washed-rind cheese technique. Another option is soaking the cheese or its wrapping in alcohol. Rogue River Blue from Rogue Creamery, Central Point, Oregon, is a cheese that is wrapped in Syrah grape leaves that are soaked in pear brandy.

“It’s important to keep in mind that the earlier in the process alcohol is added, the more it will affect how the cheese flavor develops,” Mode says.

Fiscalini Cheese, Modesto, California, offers Purple Moon, its traditional award-winning Cheddar soaked in a Petite Syrah wine blend that leaves the cheese with a distinct purple color on the outside and creamy finish on the inside, says Brian Fiscalini, partner and CEO, Fiscalini Cheese.

Fiscalini says to make the cheese, the company takes its traditional Cheddar and cuts it into 6-ounce retail sizes before soaking it in a stainless steel vat of wine overnight.

“This allows it to really soak up the wine flavor as well as the purple color,” he says.

When it comes to color, Mode notes that the alcohol and cheese do not have to do all of the work. If a cheesemaker wants to achieve a certain color intensity or hue, coloring can be added, she says.

Beyond wine, sales from the “all other alcohol” segment tracked by WMMB — which includes all other alcohol flavors, from beer, ale and stout, to bourbon, rum, brandy and Bloody Mary — grew 40.9 percent in 2017 to top 850,000 pounds.

WMMB notes that just as port wine spreads dominate the wine segment, beer cheese spreads dominate the “other” segment, with sales of nearly 587,000 pounds in 2017. However, while port wine cheese sales are fairly flat, beer cheese is rapidly gaining in popularity, and sales jumped 53.5 percent in 2017.

Rogue Creamery has worked with several different brewers and has been infusing cheeses with beer for more than 10 years, says Francis Plowman, cheese narrator, Rogue Creamery.

Rogue Creamery offers Cheddars with beer infusions including HUB Survival Stout Cheddar. The Organic American Stout from Hopworks Urban Brewery, Portland, Oregon, is brewed from seven ancient grains and finished with cold-pressed Organic Stumptown Holler Mountain coffee, conveying flavors of molasses and roasted malts in this beer-Cheddar duo.

Rogue Creamery also offers a Chocolate Stout cheese made with Rogue Ales’ Organic Chocolate Stout and Rogue Creamery’s classic hand-milled Cheddar. The beer is poured over the curd and allowed to meld before it is hand dipped and pressed into blocks for aging. Savory and tangy Cheddar notes are tempered by the sweeter chocolate and coffee flavors of the stout, Plowman says.

Fiscalini Cheese offers Hopscotch Cheddar, named after the hops present in the beer the company uses to create the cheese, Fiscalini says.

“To give this cheese its originality, we rinse the curds in a scotch ale beer from Dust Bowl Brewery in Turlock, California. We then mold the cheese into 40-pound blocks and age it, allowing for the unique flavor profile to emerge,” he says.

Meanwhile, cheesemakers also are experimenting with alcohols outside beer and wine, WMMB notes.

“Beyond beer, bourbon seems to be the next big alcohol flavor moving into the cheese case,” WMMB says. “Bourbon-flavored cheese sales jumped 215 percent in 2017 to top 100,000 pounds.”

At Henning’s Cheese, Kiel, Wisconsin, the company offers a tequila lime cheese featuring “a splash of tequila and flavors blended in a creamy Cheddar,” says Kerry Henning, Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker.

“The flavor is so refreshing with the melding of the tequila and (a) pineapple coconut flavor,” Henning says.

He notes getting consumers to sample the cheese has been challenging, but once they do, they are pleasantly pleased.

Henning also has worked with Chris Gentine, owner of The Artisan Cheese Exchange, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, on a Cheddar featuring tequila and habanero peppers — “The Rattlesnake” — which is sold under the Deer Creek brand.

“Kerry and I worked together to get the right flavor balance,” Gentine says. “You taste the sweetness of the tequila, then you get a Cheddar note and then there’s the heat from the pepper.”

Sartori Co. offers a limited-edition Cognac BellaVitano. The cheese is a “toast” to Sartori Co. founder Paolo Sartori. For the cheese, Sartori’s BellaVitano is aged at least 18 months and then steeped in Rémy Martin Cognac for 7-10 days.

“It’s a unique and complex celebration of smoky, nutty, oaky flavors with toasted notes of vanilla and caramel,” Sartori says.
Sartori notes that consumers often will inquire about the alcohol content in these types of cheeses and whether there are any potential effects from the alcohol as with a drink.

“It’s not an amount to be concerned about,” she says. “A lot of the alcohol tapers off in the aging process. It’s more a concern about flavor.”

Fiscalini says the residual alcohol level in its infused cheeses is very low.

“You don’t have to be 21 to buy it or eat it,” he says. “Anyone can eat it, and we do testing for residual alcohol for quality control.”
He does caution that alcohol can really dehydrate cheese, so it’s important to consider that with the timing of adding it into the cheese.

Plowman says while the amount of alcohol in the cheese isn’t a concern, it does present a pairing opportunity with an alcoholic beverage if desired.

“It kind of sells itself — retailers can easily do an end cap with a Rogue Ales beer and a Rogue Creamery cheese together, an Oregon story,” he says.

When it comes to adding alcohol to cheese, it really is about experimentation, cheesemakers and researchers say.
“You have to be creative and willing to experiment,” Johnson says.

“It’s very open to creativity and getting it just the way you want it,” Mode adds. “Some cheesemakers add the alcohol as is, but some may condense or filter it before use to balance the flavor with the cheese. It’s about identifying what you want to accomplish and working to get there.”

Fiscalini says it also comes down to economics.

“We’ve tried some of the spirits like whiskey and rum and found they did not work as well for us,” he says. “We use good beer and wine in our cheeses, but to use high-quality whiskey is not as cost-effective.”

According to WMMB, with so many distinctive flavors to work with, cheesemakers have plenty of inspiration to drive their experimentation within this segment.

“Port wine and beer cheese may still dominate this segment, but it’s really the new, unique, specific flavors that are driving growth,” WMMB says. “And as consumers seek to learn the stories behind their favorite foods, the incorporation of local flavors from craft breweries and local wineries is a natural fit for the carefully-crafted cheeses made by these cheesemakers. New combinations may come and go, but stand-out stars are sure to become a regular fixture in cheese cases across the country.”

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Trump speaks on NAFTA, ag issues at AFBF meeting

January 12, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — President Donald Trump in a speech during the 2018 American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual convention here this week touched on issues of particular importance to the agriculture sector including regulations, labor and trade.

“We are witnessing a new era of patriotism, prosperity and pride — and at the forefront of this exciting new chapter is the great American farmer,” Trump said, adding that farmers “embody the values of hard work, grit, self-reliance and sheer determination.”

Trump acknowledged controversy over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other trade agreements that account for roughly a quarter of U.S. agriculture revenues.

“To level the playing field for all of our farmers and ranchers as well as our manufacturers, we are reviewing all of our trade agreements,” Trump said. “On NAFTA I am working very hard to get a better deal for our farmers and ranchers and manufacturers.”

Trump also said the farm bill would continue to provide a safety net for farmers who are now entering their fifth year of declining incomes.

“I look forward to working with Congress to pass the farm bill on time so that it delivers for all of you, and I support a bill that includes crop insurance,” he said.

In addition, the president spent much of his address decrying the costs of excessive regulation and tallying the rules his administration has moved to eliminate.

“We are also putting an end to the regulatory assault on your way of life. And it was an assault,” he said.

Trump noted the Waters of the United States rule, now being withdrawn following an executive order he signed in the first weeks of his administration.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall says Trump’s visit marked a watershed in Washington, D.C., politics.

“Farmers and ranchers have too long faced burdensome regulations,” Duvall says. “This president understands the toll government overreach has taken on ordinary business and is moving swiftly to clear the way for prosperity. We are moving into yet another year of economic difficulty. Relief could not have come at a better time.”

Also at the AFBF meeting, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue spoke about the importance of trade to U.S. agriculture and the priority of successful NAFTA negotiations.

“To get a deal, we need all sides to seriously roll up their sleeves and get to work,” Perdue said. “We have put a number of proposals on the table to modernize NAFTA, and critically for agriculture, to address key sectors left out of the original agreement — dairy and poultry tariffs in Canada. Now we want to see our negotiating partners step up and engage so we can get the deal done.”

Ted McKinney, under secretary of trade and foreign agricultural affairs for USDA, also spoke at the event, noting there is an “extraordinary amount of posturing in the circle,” but he is hopeful that the United States, Canada and Mexico will meet in the middle and find some agreement in the next round of trade negotiations.

Negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico are set to meet Jan. 23-28 in Montreal for a sixth round of NAFTA talks.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) says Trump’s remarks at the AFBF meeting seem to indicate a deepening understanding of the critical connection between trade agreements and the farming community.

“He has heard from rural America that trade is woven into the fabric of our businesses,” says Michael Dykes, president and CEO, IDFA. “We are pleased that he is listening and hopeful for positive momentum moving forward.”

• Task force recommendations

Meanwhile, Perdue at the AFBF meeting also announced that a new report from the administration’s Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity contains more than 100 practical, actionable recommendations for economic growth in five key areas: e-connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, technology and economic development. Perdue ceremonially presented the findings of the task force to President Trump at the convention.

Trump in April 2017 signed an executive order establishing the task force “to ensure the informed exercise of regulatory authority that impacts agriculture and rural communities.” Perdue serves as the task force’s chairman.

Dykes says the administration’s task force recommendations highlight the critical connection between investing in the rural workforce and strengthening American manufacturing.

“Our dairy foods companies, which are predominantly located in rural communities, employ nearly 1 million skilled individuals, generate more than $39 billion in direct wages and have an overall impact of more than $200 billion according to Dairy Delivers, IDFA’s economic impact tool,” Dykes says. (For more on Dairy Delivers, see “IDFA-ordered tool quantifies dairy’s economic impact” in the Aug. 4, 2017, issue of Cheese Market News.)

“With the training and educational investments, expanded apprenticeship programs and access to career development programs the president outlined today, dairy companies will be able to continue providing job opportunities in thousands of rural communities across the United States,” Dykes adds.

Perdue says while the task force has worked to identify solutions to the problems plaguing rural communities, there is more work ahead.

“No doubt, rural America has struggled under burdensome regulations with no voice in Washington, but under President Trump’s leadership, and with the work of this task force, we can turn that around and restore rural prosperity once and for all,” he says.

To view the report, visit www.usda.gov.

Trump at the meeting also signed a pair of executive orders to protect and support rural populations with limited access to internet services and less-certain connectivity.

The first order, “Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of the Interior,” instructs the Secretary of the Interior to develop a plan “to support rural broadband development and adoption by increasing access to tower facilities and other infrastructure assets managed by the Department of the Interior.” The second order, the “Presidential Executive Order on Streamlining and Expediting Requests to Locate Broadband Facilities in Rural America,” declares the government will continue to enforce section 6409 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which deals with rules governing access to wireless communication sites and mandates the use of a common set of forms for companies that wish to apply for permission to build on a given site, or need to alter an existing site.

In response to the USDA task force’s report and Trump’s executive orders regarding rural broadband, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said NFU applauds the administration’s efforts to help rural America grow and thrive.

“Farmers Union appreciates the administration’s focus on broadband access, as its unreliability and unavailability is one of the biggest issues plaguing rural areas,” Johnson says.

“However, these executive orders are among the first of many steps to promote prosperity in rural America. We urge President Trump and Congress to act quickly to uphold their promises by providing major federal investment in a comprehensive infrastructure package,” he adds.

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Dorothy’s brand launched in honor of dairy pioneer

January 12, 2018

LENA, Illinois — Dorothy Demeter, a pioneer in the U.S. dairy industry, is now the name behind the cheese brand being launched by Savencia Cheese USA, a France-based company with numerous operations in the United States.

The new Dorothy’s brand includes two cheeses, “Comeback Cow” and “Keep Dreaming,” which are being made at Savencia’s plant in Lena, Illinois, says Sebastien Lehembre, senior brand manager, Savencia Cheese USA. The Demeter family, former owners of the plant known as Kolb-Lena, have a long history with the facility, so when working on new cheeses there, it was natural to look to their family’s heritage, Lehembre says.

During the last few years, Savencia has been considering what new things it could do at the Kolb-Lena plant and when talking to people there, Dorothy’s name came up again and again, Lehembre says.

Dorothy’s story starts in the 1930s when, as a young girl, she fell in love with the cows, and then cheesemaking, at the Illinois creamery owned by her grandfather, Frederick Kolb.

The family creamery, Kolb-Lena, is where Dorothy took to cheesemaking as a teen — so much so that she decided to go to college to study dairy science. Dorothy’s parents, Karl and Frieda Renter, wanted to send her to the best dairy science department for further technical studies. They first visited the University of Wisconsin and then Iowa State University. It was to Iowa State’s credit that they progressively admitted Dorothy into the male-dominated program, the Demeter family says.

It also was at Iowa State where Dorothy met Jim Demeter, a Fulbright Scholar from Greece who was studying dairy science as well. Dorothy and Jim married, and together they had four children. While busy raising their family, they also reinvented the family business.

Making cheeses including Brie and Camembert, the Demeters built on 19th century techniques and innovated cheese cultures. Expanding the company’s offerings, they perfected Iowa-style Baby Swiss and pioneered domestic Feta in homage to Jim’s Greek heritage. Their four children, two sons and two daughters, also spent time working in the family business including cheese production, wrapping cheese, gift box assembling, shipping, accounting, business management and marketing. Their sons have remained in the cheese business, now as adults with more than 80 years’ experience combined.

The plant was purchased by the founder of Savencia, Jean Noel Bongrain, in 1987, though the company still has many Kolb family roots, including Jim and Dorothy’s son, Fred Demeter, who works at Kolb-Lena along with their nephew, Dino Constantine.

The new cheese varieties are inspired by Dorothy’s heritage and made by cheesemaker Bob Werkheiser, who once worked as an apprentice under Dorothy, Lehembre says.

Dorothy was known to work tirelessly or, as some say, “until the cows come home,” perfecting her soft-ripened cheese. Comeback Cow is a Savencia original that recognizes that heritage, Lehembre says. A bloomy rind cheese tinged orange with age, this rustic cow’s milk cheese has fragrant notes in every bite, he says.

Dorothy also dreamed of designing and building a “state of the art” specialty cheese factory with European custom-fabricated stainless steel equipment. After many long hours of design review and inspections, she and Jim achieved that dream in 1983 with the completion of the now Savencia plant. Her passion and optimism are showcased in Keep Dreaming, a complex and savory soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese.

The cheeses come in delicate 7-ounce floweret shapes inspired by the freshly sprung flowers in the nearby Apple River Canyon that Dorothy loved. They are made with Savencia’s proprietary cultures with rbST-free milk that is from local farms surrounding the plant. Respecting traditional styles and processes, the company is keeping machination to a minimum and keeping the human touch where it matters: dipping, coating and wrapping, according to Lehembre.

The cheeses were officially launched in mid-November at a ceremony at Iowa State University in honor of Dorothy, where Savencia made a donation to the university’s dairy science department. Jim has passed away and Dorothy was unable to attend, but her sons attended the ceremony as her representatives. The launch of the cheeses also included a tour for media and other VIPs of the Kolb-Lena plant and a visit to Huneke farm, which has supplied milk to Kolb-Lena for five generations.

The cheese was first rolled out in Chicagoland at Mariano’s stores in December, but the official launch of the cheese is at the upcoming Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, Jan. 21-23, at booth #4905. The cheese will be available nationwide.

CMN


USDA lowers its production, price forecasts for 2018

January 12, 2018

WASHINGTON — U.S. milk production for 2017 is estimated by USDA to have totaled 215.5 billion pounds, down 200 million pounds from what USDA forecasted a month ago. For 2018, USDA has reduced its milk production estimate by 500 million pounds to 218.8 billion pounds due to slower anticipated growth in the dairy cow herd combined with continued slow growth in milk per cow.

In its “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” report released today, USDA also lowers its fat-basis import forecast by 100 million pounds to 6.0 billion pounds due to slowing demand for butter products. Meanwhile, the 2018 export forecast is raised by 100 million pounds to 9.5 billion pounds due to expected robust foreign demand for U.S. fat-containing products.

On a skim-solids basis, the 2018 import forecast is reduced by 200 million pounds to 5.9 million pounds due to weak demand for U.S. milk protein concentrates. The 2018 skim-solids basis export forecast is raised by 200 million pounds to 42.0 billion pounds reflecting stronger demand for a number of products, USDA says.

In today’s report dairy product prices for 2017 are adjusted for December data. Cheese averaged $1.6344 per pound in 2017, butter averaged $2.3303, nonfat dry milk (NDM) averaged $0.8666, and dry whey averaged $0.4437.

The 2017 Class III price averaged $16.17 per hundredweight, Class IV averaged $15.16, and the all-milk price averaged $17.65.

For 2018, all dairy product price forecasts are reduced from last month’s report based on slowing domestic demand and global competition, USDA says.

Currently, USDA projects the cheese price will average $1.535-$1.615 in 2018, while butter will average $2.245-$2.355. NDM is forecast to average in the $0.715-$0.775 range, and dry whey is forecast to average in the $0.270-$0.300 range.

The Class III and Class IV price forecasts for 2018 are reduced on lower product prices to $14.25-$15.05 and $13.35-$14.45, respectively.

The 2018 all-milk price forecast is lowered to $15.80-$16.60, down from last month’s forecast of $16.65-$17.45.  

CMN


All eyes on Europe to impact global dairy prices in 2018

January 5, 2018

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — Analysts have their sights set on Europe as milk production there is expected to result in excess supply hitting the world market and impacting dairy prices globally in 2018.

Andrew Faulman, floor manager at Rice Dairy, Chicago, notes that after the quota system was abolished in Europe, there has been strong growth in the European milk shed.

“Recent aggregate data released in December shows that European milk production grew just over 5 percent year-over-year for the month of October,” Faulman says. “That excess milk I believe will continue to show up in various product categories, making Europe a more competitive exporter of product.”

Overall expansion in milk production is generally expected in the European Union (EU) during the first part of 2018, says USDA’s Dairy Market News.

Dairy Market News notes there is increasing chatter about whether the EU will be less welcoming of adding to intervention stocks of skim milk powder (SMP) as 2018 develops.

“There is growing sentiment favoring more milk moving into cheese and whole milk powder production,” Dairy Market News says.

“What’s happening in Europe is not staying in Europe,” says Sara Dorland, managing partner with Ceres Dairy Risk Management LLC, Seattle. “The intervention program policy will be key as well as any potential direct payments to farms. If Europe continues to expand milk production at its current pace, that would put a lid on 2018 dairy markets. If Europe adjusts its payments and policy to encourage a reasonable amount of milk, given current demand, that could bring markets into balance later this year.”

Mike McCully, owner of The McCully Group LLC, New Buffalo, Michigan, says while dairy farmers in the United States are getting the signal to slow production from lower milk prices, that hasn’t happened yet in Europe.

“The consensus opinion is global dairy prices will post a modest recovery in the second half of the year — but if European milk production growth continues, that recovery likely won’t happen until 2019,” McCully says.

He notes that in the next few weeks, the EU Commission is expected to announce details for how they will operate the SMP intervention program in 2018.

“That will remove one uncertainty from the market, with the other big one being the ongoing NAFTA renegotiation,” McCully says.

Dave Kurzawski, senior broker at INTL FCStone, Chicago, says the NAFTA discourse may get worse before it gets better, but he notes every comment about NAFTA is filled with fear.

“When’s the last time you heard a suggestion that NAFTA might end up as a good thing? This is less a prediction on NAFTA negotiations and more an observation as to what the market is pricing,” he says.

Meanwhile, as U.S. prices already have addressed post-holiday demand, attention now turns to what the milk supply looks like, Kurzawski says.

“Europe is strong, but between the U.S. and New Zealand, production estimates are getting ratcheted down, not up,” he says. “That will be an issue that keeps the bottom from falling out on cheese.”

Cheddar barrel prices at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) dipped into the $1.30s on Thursday, settling at $1.3975 per pound. Blocks dipped below $1.50 to settle at $1.4950.

Faulman says he expects excess milk to put pressure on CME prices in the first quarter.

“To start the year, the CME cheese market has begun trending lower,” he says. “At the moment, January cheese futures are trading at a premium to the average price of spot cheese, which may be indicative to premiums getting reported into the National Dairy Product Sales Report.”

Faulman says referencing the most recent December milk production report, while Idaho showed a small decline, moderate growth in states like Minnesota and Wisconsin will weigh on cheese.

Dorland notes there is more cheese capacity online at the start of this year versus last year.

“We had a tough time keeping markets in balance at the start of 2017, and it seems that could get worse in 2018,” Dorland says. “Last year, the United States relied heavily on exports to keep the gaps between production and domestic consumption in check — that could be more challenging this year as Europe could have more cheese to market.”

CME nonfat dry milk (NDM) prices, which have been in the mid-$0.60s, settled at $0.6700 per pound on Tuesday and remained there through Thursday.

Kurzawski says he thinks the bottom already has been reached for NDM.

McCully says while he thinks NDM and SMP prices globally are nearing a bottom, prices will struggle to move higher due to burdensome stock levels in Europe and the United States.

Faulman agrees, saying the domestic supply of NDM is enough to keep prices in check and potentially lend itself to further weakness.

“I think it’s a supply issue that lower prices have yet to solve,” he says.

CME butter, meanwhile, is a product that is still in high demand, with prices settling at $2.2300 per pound on Thursday.

“As cheese markets attempt to locate stable ground and dry products markets continue to falter, the butter markets remain the lone commodity stalwart, starting 2018 in steady to bullish fashion,” Dairy Market News says.

Dorland says she anticipates butter to remain near prior-year levels as it’s still in high demand.

“Weather and feed quality could affect butter — both of which we are seeing in markets today,” she says. “That is keeping buyers nervous about prices this year and likely prices supported near current levels until there is some sign that there is more butter available to the marketplace.”

CMN


U.S. cheese production rises 2.8 percent over year earlier

January 5, 2018

WASHINGTON — Total U.S. cheese production, excluding cottage cheese, was 1.055 billion pounds in November, 2.8 percent above November 2016’s 1.026 billion pounds, according to data released Thursday by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Dairy Production chart on page 15.)

November cheese production was 2.0 percent below October 2017’s 1.077 billion pounds. When adjusted for the length of the months, November cheese production was 1.2 percent higher than October 2017 production on an average daily basis.

Italian-type cheese production totaled 454.7 million pounds in November, 3.6 percent above November 2016, according to NASS. November production of Mozzarella, the largest component of Italian-type cheese production, totaled 350.4 million pounds, 3.3 percent above production a year earlier.

American-type cheese production totaled 401.2 million pounds in November, 0.6 percent above a year earlier. Production of Cheddar, the largest component of American-type cheese production, was 284.7 million pounds, virtually the save level as a year earlier.

Wisconsin led the nation’s cheese production with 279.2 million pounds produced in November, up 2.4 percent from November 2016, according to NASS. California followed with 211.0 million pounds, up 0.6 percent from its production a year earlier.

The next three cheese-producing states in November were New York with 77.2 million pounds, down 0.1 percent from its production a year earlier; Idaho with 76.6 million pounds, up 3.2 percent; and New Mexico with 64.5 million pounds, down 1.5 percent.

NASS reports U.S. butter production was 145.7 million pounds in November, 1.8 percent above November 2016’s 143.1 million pounds and 1.6 percent above October 2017’s 143.4 million pounds. When adjusting for the length of the months, November production was 5.0 percent higher than October production on an average daily basis.

California led the nation’s butter production with 42.1 million pounds in November, down 0.7 percent from its production a year earlier, according to NASS.

Production of nonfat dry milk suitable for human consumption totaled 140.5 million pounds in November, up 9.7 percent from production a year ago. Skim milk powder production totaled 41.8 million pounds, down 11.9 percent from a year earlier, NASS reports.

CMN


Study notes opportunities for dairy investment in Pa.

January 5, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. — An investment in additional dairy processing capacity in Pennsylvania could generate $34.7 million annually in combined revenue generation and cost savings, according to an “Analysis of Economic Incentives for Additional Dairy Processing Capacity in Pennsylvania” study released by dairy market analysts.

The study — authored by Chuck Nicholson, adjunct associate professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University; Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Andrew Novakovic, E.V. Baker Professor of Agricultural Economics at Cornell — was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Center for Dairy Excellence as part of a comprehensive look at competitiveness and growth opportunities within Pennsylvania’s dairy industry.

The Center for Dairy Excellence is a nonprofit organization initiated by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in 2004. Bringing together people from more than 40 different dairy organizations in Pennsylvania, the center’s mission is to enhance the profitability of the dairy industry by empowering people, creating partnerships and increasing the availability and use of resources.

“Substantial incentives appear to exist for additional processing capacity to locate in Pennsylvania,” say the three authors of the study. “Based on our findings, an investment in two cheese plants — one in the State College area and one in the Reading area — may result in the largest reduction in supply chain costs, offering the strongest incentives for the new processing capacity.”

Based on dairy product demand and 2016 milk production capacity, Nicholson, Stephenson and Novakovic found that investing in two plants processing volumes of 4 million pounds of milk per day and producing non-American types of cheese (Italian and specialty cheeses) would result in the largest reduction in supply chain costs. These plants would reduce hauling costs for Pennsylvania dairy producers by an estimated $5.9 million per year, based on the study findings.

“Pennsylvania is one of the few major dairy states that are net exporters of raw milk,” Stephenson said at a recent Dairy Listening Session where he discussed the study findings. “Having additional dairy processing in the state would markedly increase the marginal value of milk produced in Pennsylvania now being shipped out of state. That would generate economic benefits for the state (and) enhance the marginal value of milk for Pennsylvania dairy producers by about $28.8 million annually, according to our findings.”

An investment in dairy processing also would reduce hauling costs for Pennsylvania dairy producers, with the Reading and State College plant scenarios proposed in the study reducing hauling costs by an estimated $5.9 million per year, the study says. The combined estimated returns generated by the increased marginal milk value and reduced hauling costs would support a plant investment of about $433 million per year, according to the study.

The dairy processing analysis study is the first released from a series of information resulting from the Pennsylvania Dairy Industry Study being conducted by Nicholson, Stephenson and Novakovic. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and Center for Dairy Excellence have commissioned the three researchers to provide insight on opportunities and inhibitors to growing and strengthening Pennsylvania’s dairy sector, which serves as the largest segment of Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry, generating about $6 billion in annual economic returns.

A complete copy of the dairy processing analysis, along with other information about the comprehensive Pennsylvania dairy study, is available at centerfordairyexcellence.org. Click on “Dairy Information,” then on “Pennsylvania Dairy Study 2017.”

CMN


WCMA pledges second gift for UW-River Falls

January 5, 2018

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) this week announced its board of directors’ pledge of a second gift of $100,000 to the Foundation at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to help the school rebuild its dairy pilot plant. WCMA kicked off the fundraising drive in 2014 with its initial gift of $100,000.

“WCMA members recognize education as the key to the future success of the dairy processing industry, and we’re proud to invest in projects that will help deliver the skilled dairy plant workers we need nationwide,” says John Umhoefer, executive director, WCMA.

The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at UW-River Falls reinstated its Food Science and Technology program in 2016 and offers a food processing technology minor. The school’s dairy processing plant also hosts continuing education classes focused on pasteurization, cheesemaking and food safety.

To provide students in all programs with a hands-on learning experience, UW-River Falls plans to fully renovate its dairy processing plant, featuring new automation, piping and equipment. The project is estimated to cost $4 million, and $3.1 million already has been raised. Construction is slated to begin in June 2018.

“Bridging this gap is a critical step, not only in getting the dairy pilot plant built, but in meeting our industry’s workforce development needs,” Umhoefer says. “WCMA is proud to support the project, and invites members to match — or surpass — our gift to get the plant up and running and students learning as soon as possible.”

Umhoefer notes that matching gifts of any amount will be accepted over the next three years. For more information, call 608-286-1001 or email jumhoefer@wischeesemakers.org.

CMN


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
January 19, 2018


Barrels: $1.3450 (-1/2)
Blocks: $1.5650 (+1 1/2)


Click here for more market activity
Cheese Production
U.S. Total Nov.
1.05 bil. lbs.


Milk Production
U.S. Total Nov.
17.279 bil. lbs.

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2018 versus 2016 —
What’s different this time?

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