USDA launches MPP; open
enrollment is Sept. 2-Nov. 28
August 29, 2014
WASHINGTON — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday announced that starting Sept. 2, farmers may enroll in the new dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP). The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin — the difference between the price of milk and feed costs — falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.
USDA also has launched a new web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under MPP that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online resource, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool, allows dairy farmers to combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections.
Producers also can review historical data or estimate future coverage based on data projections, USDA notes. The secure site can be accessed via computer, smart phone, tablet or any other platform, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We’ve made tremendous progress in implementing new risk management programs since the farm bill was signed over six months ago,” Vilsack says. “This new program is another example of this administration’s commitment to provide effective safety net programs that allow farmers and ranchers to manage economic risks beyond their control.”
Development of the online resource was led by the University of Illinois, in partnership with USDA and the Program on Dairy Markets and Policy (DMaP). DMaP partners include the University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Minnesota, Ohio State University and Michigan State University.
The Margin Protection Program, which replaces the Milk Income Loss Contract program, gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation.
Enrollment begins Sept. 2 and ends Nov. 28 for 2014 and 2015. Participating farmers must remain in the program through 2018 and pay a minimum $100 administrative fee each year. Producers have the option of selecting a different coverage level during open enrollment each year.
Dairy operations enrolling in the new program must comply with conservation compliance provisions and cannot participate in the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy (LGM-Dairy) insurance program. Farmers already participating in the LGM-Dairy program may register for MPP, but the new margin program will only begin once their LGM-Dairy coverage has ended, USDA notes
The MPP final rule also was published in today’s Federal Register. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers the program, also will open a 60-day public comment period on the dairy program. The agency says it wants to hear from dairy operators to determine whether the current regulation accurately addresses management changes, such as adding new family members to the dairy operation or inter-generational transfers. Written comments must be submitted by Oct. 28 at www.fsa.usda.gov or www.regulations.gov.
Dairy industry stakeholders this week welcomed news of the MPP launch.
“America’s family-run dairy farms are in great need for these kind of risk management tools to help them manage risk that is beyond their control,” says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union.
“The family farmer provision, included as part of the program, will allow many of this nation’s family-operated dairy farms to breathe a sigh of relief now that they have adequate risk management tools in hand,” Johnson adds.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) — which worked with USDA on development of the program and its enactment in the 2014 Farm Bill — says it is pleased with the overall provisions of the new program and urges farmers to begin familiarizing themselves with what will be a “valuable tool” to help manage farms’ financial risks in the future.
“Today’s release of the new dairy program’s details is the culmination of five years of work by NMPF, the nation’s dairy cooperatives and other farm groups to create an important new safety net for dairy farmers,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, NMPF. “We applaud the U.S. Department of Agriculture on its hard work during the past six months putting the final touches on the dairy provisions of Congress’ farm bill. While some of the issues we raised could not be fully resolved in the short time available to complete the rulemaking, we’re pleased with the final package.”
Mulhern says NMPF will be working in the coming weeks to help dairy farmers understand the importance of the new safety net program. He notes the organization is updating its www.futurefordairy.com website with relevant information for farmers, including a spreadsheet of historical margin trends and an online calculator that will allow farmers to enter pricing and production data to help them select insurance coverage levels in the future.
The MPP allows farmers to protect the margin between milk prices and feed costs. Producers will insure their margins on a sliding scale, and must decide annually both how much of their milk production to cover (from 25 percent up to 90 percent) and the level of margin they wish to protect.
Basic coverage, at a margin of $4 per hundredweight, is offered at no cost. Above the $4 margin level, coverage is available in 50-cent increments, up to $8 per hundredweight. Premiums are fixed for five years but will be discounted by 25 percent in 2014 and 2015 for annual farm production volumes up to 4 million pounds. Premium rates are higher at production levels above 4 million pounds.
NMPF notes that, importantly, USDA agreed with NMPF that the lower premiums will apply to the first 4 million pounds of a farm’s enrolled annual milk production, regardless of the farm’s total production. For example, a farm with an annual production history of 8 million pounds that elects to cover 50 percent of its production history would pay the lower rate on all 4 million pounds enrolled in the program. Farmers will be able to change their coverage (the percentage of milk insured, as well as margin level) on an annual basis, with USDA establishing a 90-day enrollment window of July 1-Sept. 30 each year after 2014.
NMPF notes the MPP’s margin definition is the national all-milk price, minus national average feed costs, computed by a formula NMPF developed using the prices of corn, soybean meal and alfalfa hay. Farms in the program will be assigned a production history consisting of their highest milk production in either 2011, 2012 or 2013. A farm’s production history will increase each year after the farm first signs up based on the average growth in national milk production. Any production expansion on an individual farm above the national average cannot be insured.
When the margins announced by USDA for the consecutive two-month periods of January-February, March-April, May-June, etc., fall below the margin protection level selected by the producer (from $8 per hundredweight down to $4), the program will pay farmers the difference on one-sixth (or two months’ worth) of their production history at the percentage of coverage they elected to insure. Premiums must be paid either in full at signup, or 25 percent by Feb. 1, with the remaining 75-percent balance to be paid by June 1. NMPF had urged USDA to provide greater flexibility on producer premium payment, such as through milk check deductions.
“While USDA advised us they did not have time to set up such a system for the initial launch of MPP, we will continue to work with the department in an effort to modify this feature for future years,” Mulhern says.
“The new Margin Protection Program is more flexible, comprehensive and equitable than any safety net program dairy farmers have had in the past,” Mulhern adds. “It is risk management for the 21st century, and we strongly encourage farmers to invest in using it going forward.”
The 2014 Farm Bill also established the Dairy Product Donation Program, which authorizes USDA to purchase and donate dairy products to nonprofit organizations that provide nutrition assistance to low-income families. Purchases only occur during periods of low dairy margins. Dairy operators do not need to enroll to benefit from the Dairy Product Donation Program.
Mulhern says that USDA’s issuance of rules for the Dairy Product Donation Program is “a positive step as well since it will stimulate demand, help dairy farmers when they need it most, and provide additional food to those in need.”
Johnson says the donation program is smart public policy.
“This is a wonderful example of smart public policy since it allows USDA to help stabilize the milk market while also helping those facing food insecurity,” he says.
For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
Speakers: Opportunities for
U.S. dairy available in China
August 29, 2014
By Rena Archwamety
MADISON, Wis. — Increased purchasing power, changing tastes among young consumers, and a focus on food safety, quality and nutrition provide great opportunities for Wisconsin and U.S. agricultural exporters, including cheese and dairy exporters, to enter the Chinese market, according to speakers at a Madison International Trade Association (MITA) event this week.
The program, “Food for Thought: E-commerce & Ag Export Opportunities in China,” held here Tuesday at the Crowne Plaza Madison Hotel, featured a panel of food buyers and marketers from China who offered insight into the growing market for U.S. products. The event was sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Madison Region Economic Partnership and M.E. Dey & Co.
DATCP Secretary Ben Brancel, who gave opening remarks, notes that Wisconsin agricultural exports in 2013 increased 25 percent over 2012. In the first two quarters of 2014, Wisconsin has exported $1.9 billion in agricultural products to 128 countries, up 17 percent from the same period last year.
The value of Wisconsin dairy, egg and honey exports to China has topped $35 million in the January-June period, with whey and related milk products topping $32 million — more than double the value of last year’s exports, according to DATCP. Wisconsin cheese and curd exports to China were valued at $614,092 for the first half of this year, up 179 percent from the first half of 2013.
Panelist Roger Zhang, marketing director at SMH International Ltd. based in Shanghai, China, says dairy has been one of the most prosperous sectors of the imported food market in China over the last three years. In 2013, he notes U.S. exports of dairy products to China were valued at $749.1 million, up 141 percent from the previous year.
“Dairy is a huge market for China,” he says, noting that the market for imported dairy has especially grown since the 2008 melamine scandal that rocked Chinese infant formula producers. “For Chinese consumers, there is a lack of confidence in local dairy products and milk. It creates lots of opportunities.”
A wide range of dairy categories are imported by China from overseas suppliers, with milk powder (53.5 percent) and whey products (27.3 percent) leading the share of dairy imports in 2013. Cheese comprised a 3 percent share of dairy product imports. New Zealand leads dairy market imports, Zhang says, while the United States is its second-largest dairy trade partner with a share of 16 percent. The United States has advantages in the supply of whey, powder and cheese products.
Cheese is the youngest entry among all dairy categories on the Chinese market, but consumer awareness and acceptance have led to its significant growth in the last five years, Zhang says. From 2010-2013, cheese has experienced a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.75 percent. And, as there is almost no domestic production, the Chinese market relies heavily on imports to meet the market demand for cheese.
“Cheese is a non-traditional ingredient, especially for my mom’s generation. In these days, the young generation, they like the cheese flavor,” Zhang says, adding that Italian, Greek, pizza and other Western-style restaurants in China provide a market for imported cheese.
Foodservice is the major channel for cheese, with 80 percent going to Western restaurants, fast food chains and bakeries, and 20 percent going to supermarkets. Popular cheese products in China include cream cheese, Mozzarella, Cheddar, processed cheese, Parmesan, Brie and Gouda, Zhang says. He adds that many retail stores in China now have cheese counters that sell different varieties, and the specialty cheese market is an area that needs to be explored.
Zhang also says consumer education about cheese and dairy products from other countries has helped spark more interest in these products.
“More people are more concerned about health and nutrition,” he says. “The message is that cheese is good for consumers. We think about Wisconsin because it is one of the biggest states for dairy products. This is good timing for the state of Wisconsin to look at and access this market.”
CDFA: Price reform won’t
be pursued in this session
August 29, 2014
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross this week announced that legislation to reform the state’s dairy pricing, which was introduced last week, will not be pursued this session.
Assembly Bill 2730 was introduced by California Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, and Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, both of whom chair their respective legislative agriculture committees. The proposed legislation would have allowed dairy processors and producers to enter into pricing agreements outside of the state’s current Class 4a and 4b formulas if certain conditions were met.
These changes were proposed after Secretary Ross met with the Dairy Future Task Force, which is comprised of various producer and processor representatives, to try to reach a consensus on price reform. (See “CDFA seeks dairy industry input on price legislation” in the Aug. 15, 2014, issue of Cheese Market News.)
However, industry members were not fully on-board with the proposed legislation. The Western United Dairymen’s (WUD) board of directors voted last Friday to support the legislation, but only if amendments were included that would enhance the protection of producer interests under the proposal. Meanwhile, the California Dairy Campaign opposed the draft legislation, saying it would lead to the deregulation of Class 4 milk pricing and shift virtually all risk to dairy producers.
WUD CEO Michael Marsh says the last-minute nature of the legislation and the risk on the side of the farmers were very concerning for dairy producers. He also says there had not been any economic analysis done on the proposal by the CDFA secretary.
He adds that while the recent proposed legislation had its problems, the WUD board very much appreciated that Ross recognized that there is a real problem with the pricing of milk that goes into cheese and that it needs to be brought in closer alignment with the market.
“We’re overwhelmingly pleased that she recognized there is a real pricing problem with the 4b formula. We’re committed to finding a better path forward and hope she is committed to the sustainability of dairy farmers,” Marsh says.
Ross says while the timing was not ideal, she was compelled to see if reform could be achieved this year by working with the Dairy Future Task Force on a compromise between the two sides.
“Through this process, a framework came together that would have meant substantial financial relief for producers and flexibility to processors that would have benefited the whole industry,” she says. “Since the Aug. 13 Dairy Future Task Force meeting, a tremendous amount of progress has been made, but not enough, so we will not pursue reform legislation this year.”
Butter stocks are 42 percent
lower than a year ago
August 29, 2014
WASHINGTON — Butter in U.S. cold storage totaled 170.2 million pounds as of July 31, 2014, down 9 percent from June 30, 2014, and 42 percent lower than the 295.8 million pounds of butter in cold storage at the end of July 2013, according to the cold storage report recently released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
Natural American cheese in cold storage totaled 660.4 million pounds July 31, 2014, up 1 percent from June 30, 2014’s 655.2 million pounds but 6 percent lower than the 702.0 million pounds in cold storage July 31, 2013, according to NASS.
Swiss cheese in cold storage totaled 25.5 million pounds July 31, 2014, down 9 percent from 28.0 million pounds June 30, 2014, and down 22 percent from 32.7 million pounds July 31, 2013.
NASS reports other natural cheese in cold storage totaled 369.7 million pounds at the end of July 2014, down 1 percent from 372.2 million pounds at the end of June 2014 and 10 percent lower than the 411.5 million pounds in cold storage at the end of July 2013.
This brings total natural cheese stocks in cold storage to 1.06 billion pounds as of July 31, 2014, up just 89,000 pounds from June 2014 but 8 percent lower than the 1.15 billion pounds in cold storage at the end of July 2013.
Joseph Farms brand gets new look
Updates designed to better connect with consumers at store shelf
By Kate Sander
ATWATER, Calif. — Because the majority of grocery shoppers’ purchase decisions are made at the retail shelf, Joseph Gallo Farms, a fully integrated family-owned dairy operation, has focused its energy this year on updating its Joseph Farms cheese branding. The new label is hitting store shelves in late September.
Joseph Gallo Farms has been a family farm in California since 1946. What began as a small family farm has now grown into an internationally recognized cheese brand with a long-standing, familiar logo and packaging design. Now it’s time for an update, according to Patrick Sai, brand manager, Joseph Gallo Farms.
“We needed to bring a little bit more ownership to our brand logo and packaging label, and make an evolutionary change. We’ve added new items over the years but the look wasn’t always consistent,” Sai says. “Our largest brand communication is our packaging on the retail shelf, and by improving that, it will keep us out in front.”
In an effort to improve communication with consumers, packaging for the company’s cheese line, which includes Jacks, Cheddars and Mozzarella, will call out the cheese’s points of difference and emphasize what consumers have come to know the Joseph Farms label symbolizes: all-natural (no artificial hormones including rBST) quality cheese at an affordable price point. Packaging also will highlight the fact the company is family owned as well as its sustainability efforts.
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Emmi Roth, Westby, Gifford’s are
World Dairy Expo champs
August 22, 2014
MADISON, Wis. — Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, Wis., was selected as the Cheese and Butter Grand Champion at this year’s World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest, while Westby Cooperative Creamery, Westby, Wis., was named the Grade A Grand Champion, and Gifford’s Dairy, Skowhegan, Maine, took the Ice Cream Grand Champion title.
Emmi Roth’s Roth Grand Cru Reserve is this year’s Cheese and Butter Grand Champion, while Westby’s Cooperative Creamery’s Cultured French Onion Dip took the title of Grade A Grand Champion and Gifford’s Dairy’s Chocolate Ice Cream is the Grand Champion Ice Cream.
This year’s contest, sponsored by the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association (WDPA), received a record 1,055 entries for cheese, butter, fluid milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, sour cream, sherbet, cultured milk, sour cream dips, whipping cream, dried whey and creative/innovative products from dairy processors throughout North America.
“It is extremely gratifying how dairy manufacturers have embraced this contest,” says Brad Legreid, executive director, WDPA. “Due to the tremendous support from dairy companies throughout North America, the World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest has averaged a 15-percent annual growth rate over its first 12 years. This is unprecedented growth for a dairy product contest and is a direct reflection of the high level of interest that dairy processors have in entering the only judging contest of its kind in North America.”
Judging was held earlier this week at the Madison College Culinary School and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Babcock Hall. The contest’s first-place winners will be auctioned off during the World Dairy Expo (WDE) in Madison, Wis., with a portion of the proceeds going to fund various scholarships. The auction will be held Sept. 30 at 5 p.m. and will feature Doug Wilson, Cooperative Resources International, as the auctioneer. For more information on the contest and auction, call 608-836-3336.
The winners in each contest category are:
First: Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), Sanborn, Iowa, Cheddar cut from 640-pound block, 99.00.
Second: Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Wis., Cheddar, 98.96.
Third: Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Wis., Cheddar, 98.95.
• Sharp Cheddar
First: Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Wis., Sharp Cheddar, 100.00.
Second: Foremost Farms USA, Marshfield, Wis., Sharp Cheddar, 99.65.
Third: Masters Gallery Foods, Plymouth, Wis., Sharp Cheddar Cheese, 99.20.
• Aged Cheddar
First: Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Wis., Aged Cheddar, 98.90.
Second: Dairy Farmers of America, Zumbrota, Wis., Aged Cheddar, 98.40.
Third: Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Wis., Aged Cheddar, 98.30.
• Colby, Monterey Jack
First: Cady Cheese LLC, Wilson, Wis., Co Jack, 99.40.
Second: Hilmar Cheese Co., Hilmar, Calif., Monterey Jack, 98.65.
Third: Cady Cheese LLC, Wilson, Wis., Monterey Jack, 98.60.
• Swiss Styles
First: Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, Wis., 99.75.
Second: Guggisberg Cheese, Millersburg, Ohio, Baby Swiss, 99.65.
Third: Guggisberg Cheese, Millersburg, Ohio, 200-pound Emmenthal Style, 99.15.
• Brick, Muenster
First: Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wis., Brick, 99.80.
Second: Fair Oaks Farms, Fair Oaks, Ind., Muenster, 99.35.
Third: Babcock Hall Dairy Plant, Madison, Wis., Brick, 98.85.
First: Di Stefano Cheese, Pomona, Calif., Burrata Alla Panna, 99.60.
Second: Foremost Farms USA, Athens, Wis., Part Skim Mozzarella, 99.50.
Third: Cesar’s Cheese, Random Lake, Wis., Hand-stretched Oaxaca String Cheese, 99.45.
• Fresh Mozzarella
First: Lioni Lattaicini Inc., Union, N.J., Ciliegine, 99.70.
Second: Miceli Dairy Products, Cleveland, Ohio, Ovolini, 99.35.
Third: Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wis., Fresh Mozzarella, 99.30.
First: Joseph Gallo Farms, Atwater, Calif., Provolone Cheese, 99.55.
Second: Foremost Farms USA, Chilton, Wis., Provolone Cheese, 98.85.
Third: Foremost Farms USA, Appleton, Wis., Provolone, 98.75.
• Blue Veined Cheeses
First: Arthur Schuman Inc., Fairfield, N.J., Montforte Gorgonzola, 99.30.
Second: Arthur Schuman Inc., Fairfield, N.J., Montforte Gorgonzola Cheese Wheel, 99.20.
Third: Litehouse Inc., Sandpoint, Idaho, Blue Cheese, 99.00.
• Flavored Natural Cheeses
First: Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wis., Caraway Brick, 99.55.
Second: Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wis., Caraway Muenster, 99.50.
Third: Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wis., Smoked Brick, 99.45.
• Cold Pack Cheese, Cheese Food, Cheese Spread
First: Pine River Pre Pack, Newton, Wis., Chunky Bleu Cold Pack Cheese Food, 99.30.
Second: Pine River Pre Pack, Newton, Wis., Garlic & Herb Cold Pack Cheese Food, 98.65.
Third: Pine River Pre Pack, Newton, Wis., Extra Sharp Cheddar Cold Pack, 98.40.
• Reduced Fat
First: Lactalis American Group, Buffalo, N.Y., Reduced Fat Mozzarella, 99.20.
Second: Masters Gallery Foods, Plymouth, Wis., Reduced Fat Colby Jack, 98.55.
Third: Foremost Farms USA, Clayton, Wis., Reduced Fat Provolone, 98.20.
• Open Class Soft Cheese
First: Miceli Dairy Products, Cleveland, Ohio, Mascarpone, 99.55.
Second: Lactalis American Group, Buffalo, N.Y., Whole Milk Ricotta - Whey Based, 99.05.
Third: Rising Sun Farms, Phoenix Ore., Artichoke Lemon Cheese Torta, 99.00.
• Open Class Semi-Soft Cheese
First: Babcock Hall Dairy Plant, Madison, Wis., Gouda, 99.80.
Second: Nasonville Dairy Inc., Marshfield, Wis., Feta Cheese in Brine, 99.65.
Third: Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese, Point Reyes Station, Calif., Point Reyes Torria, 99.20.
• Open Class Hard Cheese
First: Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, Wis., Roth Grand Cru Reserve, 99.50.
Second: Sartori Co., Plymouth, Wis., Sartori Reserve BellaVitano Gold, 99.45.
Third: Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, Wis., Roth Grand Cru Surchoix, 99.35.
• Unflavored Pasteurized Process Cheese
First: AMPI, Portage, Wis., Pasteurized Processed American Swiss Cheese Slices, 99.40.
Second: AMPI, Portage, Wis., Pasteurized Processed American Cheese Slices, 99.20.
Third: Schreiber Foods, Green Bay, Wis., Sharp White American, 98.75.
• Flavored Pasteurized Process Cheese
First: AMPI, Portage, Wis., Pasteurized Processed Hot Pepper Cheese Food, 99.55.
Second: AMPI, Portage, Wis., Pasteurized Processed American and Monterey Jack with Peppers, 98.45.
Third: Scott’s of Wisconsin, Sun Prairie, Wis., Jalapeno Cheese Dip, 98.45.
• Latin American Cheese
First: Hato Potrero Farm Inc., Clewiston, Fla., Jalapeno Cheese, 99.80.
Second: V&V Supremo Foods, Chicago, Cotija, 99.75.
Third: V&V Supremo Foods, Chicago, Queso Fresco, 99.55.
• Goat Milk Cheese
First: Woolwich Dairy USA Inc., Lancaster, Wis., Wild Blueberry Vanilla Chevrai, 99.15.
Second: Alouette Cheese USA, New Holland, Pa., Chavrie Thyme Zesty Lemon Log, 99.10.
Third: Woolwich Dairy USA Inc., Lancaster, Wis., Fine Herb Chevrai, 99.00.
• Plain Cream Cheese
First: Alouette Cheese USA, New Holland, Pa., Alouette Flame Roasted Red Pepper, 99.25.
Second: Swiss Valley Farms, Luana, Iowa, Cream Cheese, 99.20.
Third: Alouette Cheese USA, New Holland, Pa., Alouette Smoky Jalapeno, 99.00.
• Open Class Cheese
First: Alouette Cheese USA, New Holland, Pa., Alouette Brie, 99.50.
Second: Old Europe Cheese, Benton Harbor, Mich., Natural Smoked Gouda Wheel, 99.10.
Third: Scott’s of Wisconsin, Sun Prairie, Wis., Buffalo Cheese Spread, 99.05.
• Salted Butter
First: Hillsboro River Dairy, Hillsboro, Wis., Hillsboro Salted Butter, 99.20.
Second: Land O’Lakes, Kent, Ohio, Salted Butter #1, 99.00.
Third: Foremost Farms USA, Reedsburg, Wis., Salted Butter #2, 98.75.
• Unsalted Butter
First: Michigan Milk Producers Association, Ovid, Mich., Unsalted Butter, 99.50.
Second: West Point Dairy Products, West Point, Neb., Unsalted Butter-European Style, 99.35.
Third: Michigan Milk Producers Association, Constantine, Mich., Unsalted Butter, 99.05.
• Open Class Butter
First: Kellers Creamery/DFA, Winnsboro, Texas, Salted Whipped Butter, 99.40.
Second: Michigan Milk Producers Association, Ovid, Mich., Open Class Butter, 97.75.
Third: CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley, LaFarge, Wis., Organic European Style Butter (cultured and unsalted), 97.60.
• White Milk
First: Sassy Cow Creamery, Columbus, Wis., White Milk, 99.70.
Second: Prairie Farms-Turner Dairy, Memphis, Tenn., 2 Percent White Milk, 99.50.
Third: Prairie Farms Dairy, Hazelwood, Minn., 2 Percent White Milk, 99.40.
• Whole Chocolate Milk
First: Kwik Trip, LaCrosse, Wis., Nature’s Touch Whole Regular Chocolate Milk, 100.00.
Second: Hiland Dairy Co., Kansas City, Mo., Whole Chocolate Milk, 99.90.
Third: Country Delite Farms, Nashville, Tenn., Whole Chocolate Milk, 99.80.
• Lowfat Chocolate Milk
First: Prairie Farms Dairy, Dubuque, Iowa, Lowfat Chocolate Milk 2 Percent, 100.00.
Second: Lamers Dairy, Appleton, Wis., Lowfat Chocolate Milk, 99.90.
Third: Muller Pinehurst/Prairie Farms, Rockford, Ill., Lowfat Chocolate Milk 2 Percent, 99.80.
• Fat Free Chocolate Milk
First: Oakhurst Dairy, Portland, Maine, Fat Free Chocolate Milk, 99.80.
Second: Prairie Farms Dairy, Dubuque, Iowa, Fat Free Chocolate Milk, 99.75.
Third: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Omaha, Neb., Skim Chocolate Milk, 99.60.
• Cultured Milk
First: Turner Dairy Farms Inc., Pittsburgh, Cultured Milk, 100.00.
Second: Prairie Farms-Turner Dairy, Memphis, Tenn., Cultured Milk-Whole, 99.95.
Third: Prairie Farms, Hazelwood, Minn., Cultured Buttermilk 1 Percent, 99.90.
• UHT Milk
First: Prairie Farms Dairy, Granite City, Ill., QT Ultra Pasteurized 2 Percent, 99.90.
Second: Prairie Farms Dairy, Granite City, Ill., QT Ultra Pasteurized 36 Percent Whip, 99.80.
Third: Prairie Farms Dairy, Granite City, Ill., QT Ultra Pasteurized 40 Percent Whip, 99.75.
• Open Class Pasteurized Milk
First: Top O’ The Morn Farms Inc., Tulare, Calif., Reduced Fat Peanut Butter N’ Chocolate, 99.90.
Second: Top O’ The Morn Farms Inc., Tulare, Calif., Whole Milk, 99.80.
Third: Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, N.Y., Caramel Apple Intense, 99.70.
• Half and Half
First: Turner Dairy Farms Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa., Half and Half, 98.95.
Second: Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, N.Y., Upstate Farms Half and Half, 98.70.
Third: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Omaha, Neb., Fresh Half and Half, 98.45.
• Whipping Cream and Heavy Whipping Cream
First: Muller Pinehurst/Prairie Farms, Rockford, Ill., Heavy Whip with Powder, 100.00.
Second: Purity Dairies, Nashville, Tenn., Whipping Cream, 99.85.
Third: Muller Pinehurst/Prairie Farms, Rockford, Ill., Heavy Whip without Powder, 99.80.
• Greek Yogurt
First: Schreiber Foods, Richland Center, Wis., FOB Pineapple Greek Yogurt, 99.70.
Second: Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., Odyssey 10 Percent Greek Yogurt, 99.00.
Third: Schreiber Foods, Richland Center, Wis., Orange Cream Greek Yogurt, 98.80.
• Strawberry Yogurt
First: Prairie Farms Dairy, Quincy, Ill., Strawberry Yogurt, 97.80.
Second: Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, N.Y., Upstate Farms Strawberry Yogurt, 96.00.
Third: Belfonte Ice Cream, Kansas City, Mo., Strawberry Lowfat Yogurt, 94.65.
• Blueberry Yogurt
First: Prairie Farms Dairy, Quincy, Ill., Blueberry Yogurt, 97.75.
Second: Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, N.Y., Upstate Farms Blueberry Yogurt, 97.70.
Third: Brookshire Grocery Co., Tyler, Texas, Lowfat Blueberry Yogurt, 96.95.
• Open Flavor Class Yogurt
First: Noosa Finest Yoghurt, Bellvue, Co., Noosa Coconut Yogurt, 99.00.
Second: Noosa Finest Yoghurt, Bellvue, Co., Noosa Pineapple Yogurt, 98.25.
Third: Johanna Foods, Flemington, N.J., Pomegranate Blueberry Yogurt, 98.00.
• Open Class Drinkable Yogurts
First: Hiland Dairy, Chandler, Okla., Drinkable Yogurt-Mango, 99.60.
Second: Hiland Dairy, Chandler, Okla., Drinkable Yogurt-Pina Colada, 99.55.
Third: Weber’s Farm Store, Marshfield, Wis., Flavored Kefir, 99.50.
• Regular Cottage Cheese
First: Dean Foods, Rockford, Ill., 4 Percent Small Curd Cottage Cheese, 99.70.
Second: Belfonte Ice Cream, Kansas City, Mo., 4 Percent Cottage Cheese, 99.45.
Third: UMPQUA Dairy Products, Roseburg, Ore., Regular Cottage Cheese, 99.35.
• Lowfat and No Fat Cottage Cheese
First: Dean Foods, Rockford, Ill., 2 Percent Lowfat Cottage Cheese, 99.55.
Second: Prairie Farms Dairy, Carbondale, Ill., Lowfat Cottage Cheese, 99.30.
Third: Prairie Farms Dairy, Quincy, Ill., 2 Percent Cottage Cheese, 98.85.
• Open Cottage Cheese Class
First: Prairie Farms Dairy, Carbondale, Ill., Open Cottage Cheese No Fat, 99.20.
Second: Prairie Farms Dairy, Carbondale, Ill., Open Cottage Cheese Large Curd 4 Percent, 99.00.
Third: Prairie Farms-Hiland Dairy, Wichita, Kan., Open Cottage Cheese Class, 98.70.
• Sour Cream
First: Dean Foods, Rockford, Ill., Sour Cream, 99.95.
Second: UMPQUA Dairy Products, Roseburg, Ore., Sour Cream, 99.90.
Third: Country Fresh, Grand Rapids, Mich., Sour Cream, 99.70.
• Sour Cream-Based Dips-Onion
First: Westby Co-op Creamery, Westby, Wis., Cultured French Onion Dip, 100.00.
Second: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Omaha, Neb., French Onion Dip, 99.50.
Third: Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, N.Y., Bison French Onion Dip, 99.30.
• Sour Cream Based Dips-Southwest
First: Prairie Farms Dairy, Fort Wayne, Ind., Jalapeno Dip, 99.55.
Second: Brookshire Grocery Co., Tyler, Texas, Southwest Dip, 99.35.
Third: Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., Adelphos Southwest Greek Yogurt Dip, 94.55.
• Sour Cream Based Dips-Ranch
First: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Omaha, Neb., Ranch Dip, 98.35.
Second: Brookshire Grocery Co., Tyler, Texas, Ranch Dip, 95.00.
Third: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Waitsfield, Vt., Cabot Ranch Dip, 94.90.
• Open Sour Cream Based Dips Class
First: Prairie Farms Dairy, Fort Wayne, Ind., Bacon Cheddar Dip, 99.90.
Second: Hiland Dairy Foods Co., Omaha, Neb., Jalapeno Dip, 99.85.
Third: Prairie Farms Dairy, Carbondale, Ill., Veggie Ranch Open Sour Cream Dip, 99.80.
• Regular Vanilla Ice Cream
First: Gifford’s Ice Cream, Skowhegan, Maine, Vanilla Ice Cream, 99.20.
Second: Yuengling’s Ice Cream, Orwigsburg, Pa., Regular Vanilla, 98.90.
Third: Graeter’s Ice Cream, Cincinnati, Ohio, Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean, 98.20.
• French Vanilla Ice Cream
First: Gifford’s Ice Cream, Skowhegan, Maine, French Vanilla Ice Cream, 97.50.
Second: Guernsey Farms Dairy, Northville, Mich., French Vanilla, 97.45.
Third: Stewart’s Shops, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., French Vanilla, 97.15.
• Philly Vanilla Ice Cream
First: Gifford’s Ice Cream, Skowhegan, Maine, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, 99.60.
Second: Stewart’s Shops, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Philly Vanilla, 99.10.
Third: Cedar Crest Specialties, Manitowoc, Wis., Philly Vanilla, 98.80.
• Regular Chocolate Ice Cream
First: Gifford’s Ice Cream, Skowhegan, Maine, Chocolate Ice Cream, 98.80.
Second: Guernsey Farms Dairy, Northville, Mich., Regular Chocolate, 98.70.
Third: Yuengling’s Ice Cream, Orwigsburg, Pa., Regular Chocolate, 97.40.
• Dark Chocolate Ice Cream
First: Cedar Crest Specialties, Manitowoc, Wis., Zanzibar Chocolate, 99.90.
Second: Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, Madison, Wis., Zanzibar Chocolate, 99.30.
Third: Hiland Ice Cream, Norfolk, Neb., Belgium Chocolate Ice Cream, 99.00.
• Open Class Sherbet
First: Midwest Ice Cream, Belvidere, Ill., Open Class Sherbet, 99.75.
Second: Cedar Crest Specialties, Manitowoc, Wis., Sunset Rainbow Sherbet, 99.65.
Third: Gifford’s Ice Cream, Skowhegan, Maine, Orange Sherbet, 99.45.
• Open Class Ice Cream
First: Hato Potrero Farm Inc., Clewiston, Fla., Soursop Ice Cream, 99.90.
Second: Stewart’s Shops, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Death by Chocolate, 99.80.
Third: Guernsey Farms Dairy, Northville, Mich., McGuires’ Irish Mint, 99.75.
• Frozen Yogurt
First: Brookshire Grocery Co., Tyler, Texas, Honey Almond Granola Frozen Yogurt, 99.80.
Second: Midwest Ice Cream, Belvidere, Ill., Frozen Greek Yogurt, 99.75.
Third: Kwik Trip, LaCrosse, Wis., Nature’s Touch Greek Raspberry Frozen Yogurt, 99.70.
First: AMPI-Jim Falls, Jim Falls, Wis., Dried Sweet Whey, 99.90.
Second: AMPI, Jim Falls, Wis., Dried Sweet Whey, 99.80.
Third: Saputo Cheese USA, Lincolnshire, Ill., Sweet Whey Powder, 99.75.
• Whey Permeate
First: Lactalis American Group, Nampa, Idaho, Whey Permeate Powder, 99.80.
Second: Sorrento Lactalis, Nampa, Idaho, Whey Permeate Powder, 99.70.
Third: Lactalis American Group, Buffalo, N.Y., Whey Permeate, 99.55.
• WPC-34 Percent
First: Saputo Cheese USA, Lincolnshire, Ill., Whey Protein Concentrate-34 Percent, 99.90.
Second: Foremost Farms USA, Sparta, Wis., WPC-34, 99.40.
• WPC-80 Percent
First: Saputo Cheese USA, Tulare, Calif., WPC-80 Percent Instant, 100.00.
Second: Joseph Gallo Farms, Atwater, Calif., Whey Protein Isolate, 99.85.
Third: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Waitsfield, Vt., Agri-Mark WPC 80 Percent, 99.75.
• Nonfat Dried Milk
First: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Waitsfield, Vt., Agri-Mark Non Fat Dried Milk, 100.00.
Second: Dairy Farmers of America, Portales, N.M., Nonfat Dried Milk #3, 99.95.
Third: ConAgra Foods, Menomonie, Wis., Nonfat Dried Milk (Sample #1) Low Heat, 99.90.
• Open Class for Creative and Innovative Products
First: CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley, LaFarge, Wis., Organic Milk Protein Shake-Vanilla Fuel, 99.50.
Second: Prairie Farms, Granite City, Ill., QT Ultra Pasteurized Chocolate Truffle Milk, 98.00.
Third: CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley, LaFarge, Wis., Organic Milk Protein Shake-Vanilla Bean Balance, 98.00.
• Open Class for Aseptic Dairy Foods
First: CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley, LaFarge, Wis., Organic Milk Protein Shake-Chocolate Fuel, 97.00.
Uplands opts out of Rush Creek production amid iffy regulations
FDA: No immediate changes to 60-day aging rule
August 22, 2014
By Alyssa Mitchell
MADISON, Wis. — Uplands Cheese, Dodgeville, Wis., recently announced that it will not be making its popular Rush Creek Reserve raw milk cheese this year due to uncertainty over pending FDA regulations.
Rush Creek Reserve, which is produced only in the fall, is made with raw milk and aged in Uplands’ ripening rooms on wooden boards.
“It’s disappointing news, I know, and we hope that it’s not permanent,” Andy Hatch, owner of Uplands Cheese, wrote in an e-mail to industry professionals last Friday. “Food safety officials have been unpredictable, at best, in their recent treatment of soft, raw milk cheeses, and until our industry is given clear and consistent guidance, we are forced to stop making these cheeses.”
Hatch is in part referring to industry uncertainty over the continued use of wooden boards in cheesemaking. FDA in June issued a clarification on the matter following widespread industry concern over the perceived threat to the long-used practice of aging cheese on wood. (See “FDA clarifies stance on cheese aging regs after industry uproar” in the June 13, 2014, issue of Cheese Market News.)
FDA also addressed the issue at the American Cheese Society Conference (ACS) in Sacramento, Calif., last month. At the conference, Mike Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for food and veterinary medicine, said the agency wants to do a better job engaging the artisan cheese industry.
However, despite FDA clarification, many in the industry are not confident that the practice is 100 percent “in the clear.”
In addition to the wooden boards issue, the industry also is awaiting pending rules on the standard 60-day aging rule for raw milk cheese as part of a larger Raw Milk Cheese Risk Profile that has been in the works for some time.
Hatch says that the things FDA had to say at the ACS conference do not match everything he is hearing from the FDA inspectors that visit his cheese plant.
“It’s uncomfortable to feel like the agency is not a cohesive unit,” Hatch says.
He is quick to add, however, that he has a positive working relationship with the inspectors who visit Uplands Cheese and that the company never has been in violation.
“This isn’t a reaction to any problematic inspection or test result here,” Hatch says. “We had a full FDA inspection this summer, complete with cheese sampling, and everything went just fine, as it has every time in the past. We’ve always had positive interactions with FDA and state inspectors, and we certainly don’t blame them for our frustrations.
Still, “we feel that things are at risk of changing quickly,” he adds.
“This decision is preemptive caution in the face of uncertain regulatory standards,” he continues. “We have no problem meeting today’s standards, but I have no confidence that those standards will be the same six weeks from now. When a few years ago we heard that the FDA was going to take a look at the 60-day rule, most of us thought, “OK — they’ll collect data for a year or two, publish their findings, publish a rule change proposal, open it up to a few months of public comment and then issue a rule with an effective date a year or two down the road.’ This is pretty much standard procedure.
“Instead, we’re seeing rule changes — or reinterpretations, if that’s what the new approach to wood boards is — happening instantly and without warning,” he says. “How are we supposed to operate in those conditions, let alone make plans for the future? How can you kick a field goal if the goal posts keep moving? Deciding not to make Rush Creek isn’t a political statement or a cry for pity — it’s just a precautionary business decision in response to the unpredictable regulatory climate. Like everyone else in the industry, we hope that things will clear up soon so we can go back to working within an understood set of rules.”
When clarification on these pending regulations will come is uncertain.
FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) is nearing the end of a multi-year process of developing a risk profile for pathogens in cheeses to determine potential strategies for risk reduction with these products. It is anticipated that this risk assessment will conclude that the currently allowed practice of 60-day aging of cheeses made from raw milk is not sufficient to destroy pathogenic bacteria, notes Cary Frye, vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs at the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).
Historically, some foodborne illnesses have been traced to raw milk cheeses, and an increasing number of recalls continue to reinforce the need for revision to the current regulations to either extend the required aging time or possibly ban the use of unpasteurized milk for certain types of cheese.
Frye notes that media reports have speculated that the potential regulatory change by FDA to eliminate or lengthen the 60-day aging requirements for cheese made from raw milk would have the greatest impact on small farmstead, artisanal cheesemakers and cheese importers.
Frye says IDFA has learned from FDA officials’ remarks at various meetings that the agency’s Raw Milk Cheese Risk Profile is near completion.
“The next steps will be for it to be published in the Federal Register allowing for public review and comments,” Frye says. “We understand that this risk profile is very comprehensive. FDA officials have stated that the risk profile document will support proposed changes to the current cheese standards that permit 60-day aging of cheese made from unpasteurized milk.
However, Frye adds that changes to the regulations will be undertaken in a two-step process: First, the Raw Milk Cheese Risk Profile will be published, then FDA will undertake the formal rulemaking process for amending the cheese standards, if applicable.
“Rulemaking to change standards of identity require proposed rules to be published in the Federal Register allowing for stakeholder comments, then FDA analyzes the comments and proceeds with final changes to the standards,” she adds. “The rulemaking process usually takes 1-2 years to complete depending on the nature of changes and FDA resources.”
This week, FDA told Cheese Market News that it is in the process of completing work on the Raw Milk Cheese Risk Profile which the agency intends to publish in draft for public comment “in the coming year.”
“In working on the risk profile, FDA has carefully researched the potential risks associated with raw milk cheeses,” the agency says. “This analysis includes practical research, conducted by FDA at the National Center for Food Safety Technology, designed to verify the findings of researchers who had called into question the efficacy of 60-day aging as a means of pathogen control in raw milk cheeses.
“FDA’s risk profile will examine all pathogens which might be of concern with raw milk cheeses. It is not limited to gram-negative pathogens that are usually described in the existing literature (Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7),” FDA says. “FDA’s goal is to be comprehensive, to consider all possible pathogens and the impact that cheesemaking might have upon them and to carefully describe all potential risk management options presently available.
“Because the risk profile is not finished, at this point no specific risk management options (including changes in regulations) are presently being considered for raw milk cheeses,” the agency adds.
Both July milk production,
per cow production rise
August 22, 2014
WASHINGTON — Milk production in the 23 major milk-producing states during July totaled 16.39 billion pounds, up 4.0 percent from July 2013, according to preliminary data recently released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Milk Production chart.)
June revised milk production for the 23 major states, at 16.23 billion pounds, was up 2.3 percent from June 2013. The June revision represents an increase of 50 million pounds or 0.3 percent from last month’s preliminary production estimate.
For the entire United States, milk production is estimated to have totaled 17.45 billion pounds in July, up 3.9 percent from July 2013. Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,882 pounds for July, 64 pounds above July 2013, NASS reports. The number of milk cows on farms in the United States in July was 9.27 million head, 37,000 head more than July 2013 and 5,000 head more than June 2014.
In the 23 major states, production per cow averaged 1,911 pounds in July, 61 pounds above July 2013. 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 cows on farms in the 23 major states was 8.58 million head, 56,000 head more than July 2013, and 6,000 head more than June 2014.
California, the nation’s leading milk-producing state, saw a 4.4-percent increase in production in the July-to-July comparison with production growing to 3.52 billion pounds. There were 1.78 million cows on California dairies in July, 2,000 head less than a year earlier and 1,000 head less than in June 2014. Production per cow in California averaged 1,980 pounds in July, up 85 pounds from July 2013.
Wisconsin followed with 2.39 billion pounds produced in July, up 3.4 percent from its production a year earlier. There were 1.27 million cows on Wisconsin farms in July, 2,000 head less than a year earlier but 1,000 head more than in June 2014. Production per cow in Wisconsin averaged 1,885 pounds in July, up 65 pounds from July 2013.
Finger Lakes aims to raise
funds to restart business
August 22, 2014
By Alyssa Mitchell
MADISON, Wis. — A western New York artisan cheesemaker has launched a funding campaign to assist with costs associated with FDA requirements for the business to meet in order to begin producing and selling again following an order to cease production and sales.
Nancy Taber Richards, owner and cheesemaker at Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese Co. LLC, Trumansburg, N.Y., was ordered to cease production and sale of her cheeses after FDA inspections found environmental pathogenic contamination. (See “FDA takes action against Finger Lakes Cheese for failing to control Listeria in plant” in the May 2, 2014, issue of Cheese Market News.)
In late April 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Argara of the Western District of New York entered a consent decree of permanent injunction between the United States and Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese/Richards. The consent decree was pursued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York on behalf of FDA.
Richards’ case involves two inspections — in June 2012 and April 2013 — in which some FDA sampling swabs taken in her plant tested positive for pathogenic Listeria.
“This is a significant negative finding, and I am not arguing the charge or the need for corrective action,” Richards says. “Unfortunately, Listeria was found in both the 2012 and 2013 inspections. This is critical, because the second finding in 2013 was considered a ‘repeat’ violation and is the reason FDA declared my 2012 response inadequate.”
She adds it is worth noting that her plant had never been tested specifically for Listeria prior to 2012.
“However, given the fact that Listeria is found widely in the environment and may be present in raw milk, I think there is at least a very reasonable chance that the contamination was not ‘ongoing’ but new: i.e. still a violation, but a different category of seriousness,” Richards says. “Designating the contamination ‘ongoing’ kicked me instantly into a much more severe situation with the FDA.”
Richards notes some of the positive Listeria samples were found on the wood shelving she uses to age cheeses, as well as on drains, the underside of a stainless steel table, a cart slated for washing, a stainless steel shelf rack and the rim of one brine vat.
Under the consent decree issued to Richards, the company cannot receive, prepare, process, pack, hold or distribute food until it demonstrates that it has developed a control program to eliminate Listeria monocytogenes from its production facility and products.
“The FDA repeatedly advised the company and its owner of the insanitary conditions at the facility,” says Melinda K. Plaisier, FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “When a company continues to produce food that presents a risk for consumers, the FDA will take regulatory action to protect the public’s health.”
To date, no illnesses have been associated with Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese products.
The situation — particularly the involvement of the wooden boards and FDA’s order for Richards to cease aging cheese on them — has had a ripple effect across the U.S. artisan cheese industry.
Following the action from FDA on Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese, New York cheese industry stakeholders requested clarification from the agency on the use of wooden boards in cheesemaking.
The first response, in the form of a memo issued in January of this year by Monica Metz, branch chief of FDA’s Dairy and Egg Branch for the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, stated: “The use of wooden shelves, rough or otherwise, for cheese ripening does not conform to cGMP (current good manufacturing practices) requirements, which require that ‘all plant equipment and utensils shall be so designed and of such material and workmanship as to be adequately cleanable, and shall be properly maintained.’ 21 CFR 110.40(a).”
The language caused concern among artisan cheesemakers and the cheese industry at large, as many processors long have aged cheese on wooden boards.
Following the industry uproar and extensive media coverage of the issue, FDA in June issued a statement clarifying that the agency is not banning the use of wooden boards in cheesemaking.
“The FDA does not have a new policy banning the use of wooden shelves in cheesemaking, nor is there any FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) requirement in effect that addresses this issue. Moreover, the FDA has not taken any enforcement action based solely on the use of wooden shelves,” the statement says.
“In the interest of public health, the FDA’s current regulations state that utensils and other surfaces that contact food must be ‘adequately cleanable’ and properly maintained. Historically, the FDA has expressed concern about whether wood meets this requirement and has noted these concerns in inspectional findings. FDA is always open to evidence that shows that wood can be safely used for specific purposes, such as aging cheese,” the statement continues. “The FDA will engage with the artisanal cheesemaking community to determine whether certain types of cheeses can safely be made by aging them on wooden shelving.”
FDA also said it recognizes its January memo prompted concerns in the artisanal cheesemaking community.
“We recognize the language used in this communication may have appeared more definitive than it should have, in light of the agency’s actual practices on this issue,” the agency says. (See “FDA clarifies stance on cheese aging regs after industry uproar” in the June 13, 2014, issue of Cheese Market News.)
Since then, FDA has met with artisan cheese industry stakeholders, most recently at the 2014 American Cheese Society Conference (ACS) in Sacramento, Calif., last month after many members of ACS, an organization which represents a large percentage of the United States’ artisan and farmstead cheese operations, expressed the belief that FDA is applying undue scrutiny to specialty cheesemakers.
At the conference, Mike Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for food and veterinary medicine, said the agency wants to do a better job engaging the artisan cheese industry.
“The goal this community has — to continue to build a robust, very passionate artisan cheese community … that goal is perfectly compatible with the goal of food safety. There’s no conflict here,” Taylor says. “You’re producing safe cheese every day, and we fully understand that.”
Many industry members said that the meeting with FDA, as well as plans for ACS and FDA to hold additional meetings where information can be shared — not just in a reactive manner but in a proactive manner as well —was a good start. However, several industry members expressed that it was just that: a start. (See “FDA official speaks to ACS attendees on collaboration” in the Aug. 1, 2014, issue of Cheese Market News.)
Meanwhile, Richards says she believes her business was targeted as a “high-risk” operation because she makes raw milk cheese and ages it on wood.
“I also believe strongly that I was shut down because the FDA was looking to make an example of me, as a reason to forbid the use of wood in cheesemaking,” she says. “I responded according to what had in the past been acceptable, but my response was judged unsatisfactory based on entirely new guidelines which had not been established fully, or by due process, nor had such been communicated clearly to me; and there was no meaningful way for me to appeal my case.”
Richards says that while FDA has since “clarified” that they are willing to work with producers on the issue of wood boards in cheesemaking, she, in verbal and written interactions with the agency, explained her view that the boards had simply not been properly cleaned, due to employee negligence, and detailed corrections that had been made prior to any new production, which she resumed in the early summer of 2013.
“Yet in August 2013 I was cited for continuing to use wood, which the agency viewed as a failure on my part to take corrective action — a very serious charge, given that there had been a pathogen found in my plant,” Richards says. “This despite the fact that during the period of my inspections, the use of wood was legal, and to my recollection I had never been told that I must get rid of the shelving. In 2012 I was simply cited by the FDA for not properly cleaning and sanitizing the boards.”
Richards says she recognizes her responsibility as owner to assure proper plant conditions at all times, “but I maintain that the Listeria problem was not due to the use of wooden shelves, nor a result of ineffective cleaning protocols, but rather poor execution of the protocols by an employee during a time that I was laid up; he was let go just prior to the FDA’s second visit in April 2013, and I had already begun the work of bringing the condition of the aging cave back up to my standards.
“Despite what I believe was an immediate and thorough reaction on my part to correct the sanitation issue, I was utterly shocked to be facing a suit from the FDA more than six months later in late October 2013. I was issued a 19-page proposed Consent Decree of Permanent Injunction, or alternately threatened with a lawsuit, by the FDA (via the Department of Justice), causing my business to be shut down for an indeterminate amount of time, and by default ‘freezing’ all my business assets, as I was prohibited from selling or making cheese, and renting or selling the plant,” Richards says.
“The entire ordeal was long, confusing and seemed laced with capricious judgments on the part of the FDA investigators,” she adds. “And to my understanding, there was no structured way for me to plead my case with the agency — no specific person whom I could contact for clarification, nor clear chain of command within the agency, especially after my case was sent to the Department of Justice. As it stands, the consent decree is now permanently attached to my business — the processing-plant equivalent of a ‘Scarlet A.’”
The consent decree mandates that Richards initiate a “Listeria Monitoring Program,” establish a routine environmental sampling program with an outside certified laboratory, engage a “Sanitation Expert” to do a written review of the plant to certify the other monitoring programs, and provide written evidence of all these things to FDA, after which they must write to confirm that she may resume operations.
Also included is that Richards is liable for all the costs of the FDA inspection for time and mileage, up to $237 per hour and $0.56 per mile.
“I have not seen any bill for this, but if my guesses are even close, this bill could easily approach $10,000,” she says.
In the midst of this, Richards has launched a crowdfunding campaign, “Save the Cheese!”, to help get the business through this tight financial spot.
She is seeking to raise $30,000 by the end of this month, of which $1,265 has been raised, although she does have the ability to extend the deadline.
This includes the costs to pay for the FDA mandates, as well as money for milk purchases, Richards says, noting that because she makes raw milk cheese, there is a required 60-day hold on the cheese prior to sale.
“I believe that 1.5 months worth of milk will build the inventory to an adequate amount for me to be able to begin to generate sales income and additionally to qualify for local economic development loan money which would be available at a very competitive interest rate,” she says.
Richards notes she has a considerable inventory in stock, but there is no guarantee that FDA will permit her to sell this inventory.
“Even if they do, it will take me several months to convert this inventory to cash provided that the quality remains good, which is also at this point an unknown,” she says. “I also technically have equity in the building, but until I receive the go-ahead from FDA, I am not able to use the equity in any of these assets to obtain a loan, making this an especially frustrating situation.
“I have now been without business income since late October 2013 — nearly 10 months,” she says. “I have been able until very recently to keep the basic loan and utility payments made, but am totally tapped out at this point. However, the plant remains in very good condition and I have the experience and resources to start right back up once I meet the FDA’s demands, which is nearly completed, except for paying the sanitation expert and doing the sampling, which I lack funding for.”
Details about the campaign can be found at http://flxcheese.peaksmaker.com/expense.
Ideal cheese names convey
flavors, places, experiences
August 15, 2014
By Rena Archwamety
MADISON, Wis. — As choices continue to grow in the specialty cheese case, the naming process is as important as ever to both draw shoppers’ attention and differentiate a new cheese from similar styles.
Among considerations in naming, depending on the style of cheese, is whether to use a name that is familiar to consumers or to come up with a completely original name.
“There are pros and cons to using non-standard-of-identity names,” says Chad Vincent, chief marketing officer, Sartori Co.
Plymouth, Wis.-based Sartori carries both traditional Italian-style cheeses such as its Classic Parmesan and Asiago, as well as originals like its line of BellaVitano flavor-rubbed cheeses and its mixed-milk Pastorale Blend.
“With Parmesan, people know what it is and have a good frame of reference, so it’s much easier in terms of initial trial and acceptance. But conversely, everyone has a Parmesan,” Vincent says. “With a new name like BellaVitano or MontAmoré, there’s no point of reference. The growth curve is much harder and much longer.”
Particularly with artisan and specialty cheeses, cheesemakers often need to come up with original names because their products don’t fit into a single standard of identity like Cheddar or Parmesan. And when it comes to marketing and selling these “American Originals,” a trained cheesemonger who can guide shoppers through unique cheese names and styles can be an invaluable asset.
• Cheese guides
Brian Gilbert, head cheesemonger at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Seattle and an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional (ACS CCP), says cheese names are one of the things he talks about most with customers at the Beecher’s cheese counters in Pike Place Market and the SeaTac Airport. The two Seattle locations carry Beecher’s cheeses as well as others made in the Northwest and West Coast, while Beecher’s New York location includes cheeses from across the United States as well as a restaurant.
“I really do like that American Originals have American Original names,” Gilbert says. “The more we create our own names that are interesting, the more we separate ourselves and encourage our own direction. I love that about cheese.”
However, he also notes that sometimes it is helpful for consumers to have a more familiar name in a cheese’s subtitle, and he sometimes will describe a cheese to a customer as “Manchego-style” or “Parmesan-style.” Or he will describe Beecher’s Flagship cheese as having a cross of Cheddar and Gruyere attributes.
“Flagship is not Cheddar, nor is it Gruyere. Flagship is Flagship,” he says. “But the act of Cheddaring and Gruyere cultures are things that are familiar to us.”
The benefit of referencing a familiar style of cheese became apparent after Emmi Roth USA dropped “Gruyere” from its Grand Cru signature cheese following pressure from the Swiss government and Switzerland’s Gruyere association. The cheese had been marketed as “Grand Cru Gruyere” before the Swiss-based Emmi Group acquired Monroe, Wis.-based Roth Käse in 2009.
Emmanuel Voissard, vice president of retail sales for Emmi Roth USA, says while it is not so much an issue for gourmet retailers and foodservice customers, he has seen supermarket chains especially struggling with sales of Grand Cru since the “Gruyere” was dropped from the name in 2012.
“That is quite a challenge for us because for the consumer, ‘Grand Cru’ doesn’t mean anything,” Voissard says. “The fact that we had to take ‘Gruyere’ out definitely made it more difficult for consumers to understand the product, especially in supermarkets where no one is there to tell you.”
Voissard notes that it can be more difficult to sell cheeses with original names in a supermarket environment because there is less opportunity to tell consumers about the product.
“Pretty much the label sells the product when it is cut and wrapped,” he says. “When a consumer shops for cheese, they may be looking for an ingredient or trying to follow a recipe and don’t necessarily know what product they are going to buy. If a descriptor is not there to help them, like ‘Fontina,’ ‘Gruyere’ or ‘Feta,’ they have no idea. For instance, if a recipe calls for Gruyere and they see Grand Cru, they have no idea that can be substituted for Gruyere from Switzerland.”
To help consumers, Emmi Roth USA is starting to provide more merchandising materials and explanation on its labels explaining what Grand Cru is and that it can be used as a substitute for traditional Swiss Gruyere in recipes.
• Personal stories
When choosing names for its cheeses, Sartori has looked to the Italian roots of its founder, Paolo Sartori, who came to the United States from Valdastico, Italy.
“We lean heavily on the Italian side. The name MontAmoré is from ‘mountain’ and ‘amore.’ Paolo grew up right at the foot of a beautiful mountain range in Italy, and that’s how we named MontAmoré,” Vincent says of Sartori’s original cheese with sweet, creamy and fruity attributes.
The name of the mixed-milk Pastorale evokes the cheese’s flavors as well.
“We typically get together as a marketing group and entire organization and dream up names based on different attributes,” Vincent says. “We thought of sheep and cows hanging out in the pasture, and ‘Pastorale’ was one of the names that came to us.”
Gilbert notes that cheese names offer a chance for the cheesemaker to convey a personal story. For example, Kurtwood Farms’ “Dinah’s Cheese,” a bloomy-rind original, is named after owner Kurt Timmermeister’s cow. In his book, Growing a Farmer, Timmermeister tells of how he became a farmer, learning to milk cows, and his cow named Dinah.
“He talks about the learning curve and how he started to make cheese,” Gilbert says. “When I talk to customers, there’s an opportunity to talk about that aspect of people’s lives. ... A personal story not only sells cheese, but it keeps people coming back when they understand why and what they’re eating.”
Gilbert warns that sometimes getting too personal with cheese names, like naming them after dogs or babies, runs the risk of a label looking less professional and failing to provide a meaningful connection between the consumer and the cheese. Names that are too “cutesy” also can confuse people. Names that are well-selected, he says, help to identify the cheese and tell the consumer what it will be like. Creativity and simplicity are key.
For example, Seastack, a soft-ripened cheese made by Mt. Townsend Creamery, is named for the famous rock formations along Washington’s coastline and hints at the cheese’s complex, earthy flavors.
“I’ll explain that sea stacks are what you see on the Northwest coastline and provide an image of what the customer is about to taste. They can really taste that terroir,” Gilbert says. “If you can, connect the name to what you’re doing with simplicity.”
Gilbert also points to some of Beecher’s varieties as examples of original names that provide simple descriptions. Marco Polo, which is blended with green and black peppercorns, is named for the 13th century adventurer credited with bringing pepper to Europe. No Woman, named after the Bob Marley classic, contains Jamaican Jerk spices.
“Having fun with it and being genuine to what you really want to call it is first and foremost,” Gilbert says. “But also pay attention to the business side of it, something simple enough for people to understand what you’re doing with it.”
• Name limitations
While naming conventions in the United States remain fairly open, cheesemakers who want to market their products abroad often are limited by protected name rules in Europe and countries that have trade agreements in place with the European Union. For instance, Sartori markets its cheeses in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Canada, but it is limited to where it can sell — or even show in events and contests — its classic Italian-style cheeses like Parmesan and Asiago.
A few years ago when the UK Global Cheese Awards were opened to U.S. cheeses for the first time, Vincent says Sartori entered its SarVecchio Parmesan, which took first place in a head-to-head competition with Italian versions in the Parmesan category. However, after pressure from the Parmiggiano Reggiano consortium, the contest dropped this category the following year and only offered a Reggiano category for strictly Italian protected-origin cheeses. Sartori now enters only its BellaVitano and other original cheeses in contests abroad, and also sells mainly these cheeses in international markets.
“We’re hoping the EU and remainder of the markets out there will eventually be open for everyone to compete in. We also have BellaVitano and other trademarked cheeses, so at least we can enter with something — just not all that we would like or that consumers would like,” Vincent says. “But the lack of our ability to use the Parmesan and Asiago names is restricting our ability to compete internationally. We would hope at some point in time they could make it a level playing field for everyone.”
Even if a U.S. producer makes a traditional European-style cheese, Voissard says it may be beneficial, depending on where it is marketed, to select an original name.
“It’s not easy to find a name for these cheeses if you don’t want to use the European name, but it depends on who you are targeting,” he says. “In a gourmet, high-end store, I think it’s extremely beneficial not to name a cheese with a European name. When it’s cut to order, it’s in your best interest to make it look like an American Original, a local cheese or something different from the European version.”
Voissard explains that original farmstead cheeses like Uplands Cheese’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve can sell at a much higher price point than a similar style of European cheese. Furthermore, using an original, non-standard-of-identity name leaves more room for the cheesemaker to make adjustments to the milk or other ingredients to improve or put a unique spin on the cheese.
“We have identified that there’s definitely a trend in the future for cheeses that are unique rather than ‘me too’ cheeses,” Voissard says. “So trying to come up with a product that is different from the European product, we think that’s the best way.”
USDA raises milk production
forecasts for 2014 and 2015
August 15, 2014
WASHINGTON — In its “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” report released this week, USDA slightly raised its milk production forecasts for 2014 and 2015 as lower feed costs are expected to support higher output per cow.
The 2014 milk production forecast now is 206.0 billion pounds, up 100 million pounds from last month’s report. The 2015 milk production forecast also is raised 100 million pounds from last month’s report to 212.5 billion pounds.
The report’s fat-basis export forecasts for 2014 and 2015 are lowered as Russia’s ban on imports from a number of dairy exporting countries likely will increase competition in export markets, USDA says (see “Russia issues retaliatory ban on dairy, other ag products” in last week’s issue). Fat-basis exports in 2014 are forecast at 12.8 billion pounds, down 400 million pounds from last month’s report, and in 2015 are forecast at 11.8 billion pounds, down from 13.0 billion pounds in last month’s report.
The skim-solids basis export forecast for 2014 is increased by 200 million pounds to 40.6 billion pounds. However, the 2015 skim-solids export forecast is reduced to 39.0 billion pounds, down 100 million pounds from last month’s report, as competition is expected to increase, USDA says.
Meanwhile, fat-basis import forecasts are raised as supplies from competing exporters are expected to be large, the report says. The fat-basis import forecast for 2014 is 3.7 billion pounds, up 200 million pounds from last month, while the 2015 fat-basis import forecast is 3.6 billion pounds, up 100 million pounds from last month. Skim-solids import forecasts for 2014 and 2015 are unchanged from last month at 5.2 billion pounds and 5.1 billion pounds, respectively.
Cheese and nonfat dry milk (NDM) prices are forecast higher in 2014, but their price forecasts for 2015 are unchanged from last month. Cheese is forecast to average $2.050-$2.070 per pound in 2014, up from $2.030-$2.060 last month. NDM in 2014 is forecast to average $1.845-$1.865, up from $1.835-$1.865 last month, USDA says.
Butter and whey price forecasts are raised for 2014 with strength in butter prices expected to carry into 2015. Butter is forecast to average $2.040-$2.080 per pound in 2014, up from $1.965-$2.025 last month. In 2015, butter is forecast to average $1.655-$1.785, up from $1.650-$1.780 last month.
Whey in 2014 is forecast to average $0.640-$0.660 per pound, up from $0.635-$0.655 last month, and in 2015 is forecast to average $0.565-$0.595, up from $0.550-$0.580 last month, USDA says.
Class III and Class IV prices for 2014 are raised this month on stronger component prices. Class III milk is forecast to average $21.25-$21.45 per hundredweight in 2014, up from $21.00-$21.30 last month, while Class IV is forecast to average $22.35-$22.65, up from $21.95-$22.35 last month. In 2015, the Class III price forecast is raised to $17.00-$18.00, up from $16.95-$17.95 last month, reflecting strength in whey prices, USDA says. The Class IV price forecast for 2015 is unchanged from last month at $18.70-$19.80.
The all-milk price forecast for 2014 is raised this month to $23.55-$23.75 per hundredweight, up from $23.25-$23.55 last month, but remains unchanged at $19.75-$20.75 for 2015, the report says.
Matucheski named Grand
Master at Wis. State Fair
August 15, 2014
WEST ALLIS, Wis. — Mike Matucheski of Sartori Co., Antigo, Wis., was named the 2014 Grand Master Cheese Maker during the Blue Ribbon Cheese & Butter Auction Aug. 8 at the Wisconsin State Fair Park. Matucheski now is a four-time winner of this title, which he also received in 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Matucheski earned this year’s title for his Chai BellaVitano, which placed first in the Flavored Hard Cheese class at the Wisconsin State Fair Cheese & Butter Contest held earlier this summer. Twenty pounds of Matucheski’s award-winning cheese were purchased for $75 a pound for a total of $1,500 by Ivarson Inc. of Milwaukee during last Friday’s auction.
Each blue-ribbon entry from the contest was auctioned off, and these sales, combined with paddle raffles and donations from Berenz Packaging of Menomonee Falls, Wis., and Wisconsin Cheese Originals of Oregon, Wis., raised a total of $28,965 for student scholarships and Wisconsin State Fair dairy promotions.
Other auction results include:
Mild Cheddar: Team Foremost Farms, Marshfield, made the 44 pounds of Mild Cheddar purchased by Dairyland Packaging, Cross Plains, for $55 per pound for a total of $2,420.
Swiss Styles: Jamie Fahrney, Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, made the 40 pounds of Baby Swiss purchased by Riteway Transportation, Richfield, for $25 per pound for a total of $1,000.
Flavored Soft Cheese: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Weyauwega, made the 18 pounds of Feta with Basil & Tomato purchased by Masters Gallery Foods, Plymouth, Wis., for $90 per pound for a total of $1,620.
Flavored Goat Milk Cheese: Woolwich Dairy Team, Woolwich Dairy USA, Lancaster, made the 10 pounds of Wild Blueberry Vanilla Chevrai purchased by Wisconsin State Fair Park Board, West Allis, for $50 per pound for a total of $500.
Open Class for Hard Cheese: Saxon Creamery Team, Saxon Creamery, Cleveland, made the 12 pounds of Saxony Alpine purchased by Saputo Specialty Cheese, Richfield, for $130 per pound for a total of $1,560.
Blue Veined Cheese: Montforte Team-Arthur Schuman, Imperia Foods, Montfort, made the 12 pounds of Gorgonzola purchased by Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, for $32.50 per pound for a total of $390.
Pasteurized Process Cheese, Cheese Food, Spread: Russ Evans, Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), Portage, made the 10 pounds of Pasteurized Process American purchased by Wisconsin Aging & Grading Cheese, Kaukauna, for $40 per pound for a total of $400.
Sheep & Mixed Milk Cheese: Tony Ellis, BelGioioso Cheese, Green Bay, Wis., made the 20 pounds of Crumbly Gorgonzola purchased by DSM Food Specialties, Waukesha, for $27.50 per pound for a total of $550.
Cold Pack Cheese, Cheese Food: Dan Steeno, Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton, made the 12 pounds of Aged Asiago Cold Pack purchased by Wisconsin Aging & Grading Cheese, Kaukauna, for $105 per pound for a total of $1,260.
Flavored Semi-Soft Cheese: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, made the 12 pounds of Caraway Muenster purchased by Berenz Packaging, Menomonee Falls, for $30 per pound for a total of $360.
Smear Ripened Cheese: Chris Roelli, Roelli Cheese, Shullsburg, made the 12 pounds of Little Mountain purchased by Wisconsin Cheese Mart, Milwaukee, for $95 per pound for a total of $1,140.
Aged Cheddar: Team Foremost Farms, Marshfield, made the 43 pounds of Aged Cheddar purchased by DSM Food Specialties, Waukesha, for $30 per pound for a total of $1,290.
Reduced Fat or Lite Cheese: John Wahl, Foremost Farms, Clayton, made the 10 pounds of Reduced Fat Provolone purchased by WE Energies Foundation, Milwaukee, for $67.50 per pound for a total of $675.
Open Class for Semi-Soft Cheese: Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy, Brodhead, made the 10 pounds of Havarti purchased by Saputo Specialty Cheese, Richfield, for $130 per pound for a total of $1,300.
Colby, Monterey Jack: Jeff Wideman, Maple Leaf Cheese, Monroe, made the 11 pounds of Monterey Jack purchased by Dairyland Packaging, Cross Plains, for $55 per pound for a total of $605.
Natural Goat Milk Cheese: Ron Henningfeld, Clock Shadow Creamery, Milwaukee, made the 10 pounds of Chèvre purchased by Riteway Transportation, Richfield, for $70 per pound for a total of $700.
Mozzarella: Roger Krohn, Agropur, Luxemburg, made the 13 pounds of Low Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella purchased by Saz’s, Milwaukee, for $160 per pound for a total of $2,080.
Latin American Cheese: Nick Siedschlag, Chula Vista Cheese, Browntown, made the 10 pounds of Queso Quesadilla purchased by Masters Gallery Foods, Plymouth, for $250 per pound for a total of $2,500.
Smoked Cheese: Dennis Schliem, Zimmerman Cheese, South Wayne, made the 11 pounds of Smoked Brick purchased by Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, for $60 per pound for a total of $660.
Flavored Pepper Cheese: Marieke Penterman, Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp, made the 18 pounds of Jalapeño Gouda purchased by Ivarson Inc., Milwaukee, for $65 per pound for a total of $1,170.
Feta: Jim Demeter, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, made the 10 pounds of Feta in Brine purchased by Wisconsin Aging & Grading Cheese, Kaukauna, for $35 per pound for a total of $350.
Brick, Muenster: Jon Jay Lewis, Decatur Dairy, Brodhead, made the 12 pounds of Muenster purchased by Berenz Packaging, Menomonee Falls, for $85 per pound for a total of $1,020.
String Cheese: Cesar Luis, Cesar’s Cheese, Random Lake, made the 10 pounds of Hand-Stretched String Cheese purchased by Wisconsin Cheese Mart, Milwaukee, for $65 per pound for a total of $650.
Open Class for Soft & Spreadable Cheese: Ben Shibler, BelGioioso Cheese, Green Bay, made the 10 pounds of Mascarpone purchased by Steve Funk for $30 per pound for a total of $300.
Butter: Jane McKeever, Foremost Farms, Reedsburg, made the 10 pounds of Salted Butter purchased by Ivarson Inc., Milwaukee, for $100 per pound for a total of $1,000.
In addition to the cheese and butter, summer sausage made by Maplewood Meats in Green Bay, which won Best of Show in the Wisconsin State Fair Meats Product Contest, also sold at the auction. Ron Bast of Riteway Transportation, Richfield, paid $1,000 for the grand champion summer sausage. The Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board donated the proceeds from the sale of this item to the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation to commemorate its centennial celebration.
CDFA seeks dairy industry
input on price legislation
August 15, 2014
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California dairy producer and processor representatives recently were invited by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to meet with CDFA Deputy Secretary Jim Houston to review and discuss milk pricing legislation.
Western United Dairymen (WUD) says the proposal, which USDA Secretary Karen Ross would like to introduce and pass through the state’s legislature before its Aug. 31 recess, appears to incorporate parts of different efforts offered by producers and processors in joint meetings held earlier this year by the Dairy Future Task Force and the Dairy Advisory Committee. The proposal would index California Class 4a and 4b regulated minimum prices to announced federal Class III and Class IV prices and also would allow for manufacturing milk processors to enter into agreements to purchase milk outside of the pool.
Meeting participants were asked to forward suggested changes to the USDA secretary’s proposal by Aug. 8.