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Trump releases proposal for 2018 budget, adds to Cabinet

March 17, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Trump this week released a $1.1 trillion 2018 budget outline that proposes a $54 billion increase in defense spending and corresponding cuts to non-defense spending at the State Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the wholesale elimination of other federal programs.

Presidential budget plans outline the administration’s priorities but must be approved by Congress and typically are changed in the process. The Trump administration says it will release its full budget in May.

Michael F. Jacobson, co-founder and president for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), says the budget takes a “meat-axe” to the budgets of USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The National Institutes of Health will lose $6 billion, and while USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is spared, the HHS cuts are likely to fall disproportionately on FDA’s food program, Jacobson says.

“This all means more entirely preventable cases of foodborne illness, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and greater health care costs,” Jacobson says. “This budget should be considered dead on arrival.”

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson also expressed concern with the budget outline’s cuts to agricultural programs.

“Family farmers and ranchers are currently enduring the worst farm economy in well over a decade and an inadequate safety net that is hamstrung by $23 billion in budget cuts. The last thing our members need right now is more cuts to agencies and programs that provide incredibly important work, especially in the midst of the current farm crisis. These cuts and the message they send to rural America are deeply disappointing,” Johnson says.

Johnson notes President Trump’s budget blueprint calls for a $4.7 billion cut to USDA, which equates to a 21-percent drop for programs that serve rural and farming communities across the United States.

“This huge cut to discretionary spending will put rural development, food safety, conservation and research programs on the chopping block,” he says.

The president’s blueprint also provides for a $2.6 billion cut to EPA funding, Johnson adds, noting this 31-percent drop guts the agency’s ability to provide important environmental services and pesticide approval, and limits the administration’s ability to rewrite or remove unnecessary regulations that the president promised to address.

• Farm bill, ag funding

Meanwhile, just before Trump released his budget outline this week, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), NFU and nine other farm and ranch groups asked congressional budget and appropriations committees to increase funding for farm programs in the 2018 Farm Bill.

The coalition underlined in a letter the need for a strong farm safety net in the face of financial hardship not seen for decades.

“While we do not yet have a full-fledged financial crisis in rural America, a good many farmers and ranchers are not going to be able to cash-flow in 2017,” the groups write. “With USDA projecting continued low prices in 2018 and beyond, this situation threatens to quickly and vastly expand with each and every crop year.”

With no relief in sight, many farmers and ranchers are burning through capital reserves, and beginning farmers may be forced out of business altogether without reserves from good years to carry them through, the letter says. Banks and other community lenders are finding their hands are tied as well. Without a strong safety net, farmers are unable to secure the loans they need to help with operating costs to keep their businesses running.

Farmers also face the challenges of a strong American dollar as other countries heavily subsidize and protect their producers, the groups say.

“U.S. farmers have long said they were willing to compete with farmers elsewhere on a level playing field, but they cannot compete with the treasuries of foreign governments,” the groups write.

The 2018 Farm Bill presents a prime opportunity for Congress to respond to these sharp declines in farm prices and farm income. In previous years, agriculture was the only industry to take voluntary cutbacks to help reduce the federal deficit, the groups say.

“Now we look to Congress to provide the resources necessary to help America’s farmers and ranchers through this very difficult period,” the groups write.

The National Farmers Organization (NFO) also recently wrote to President Trump urging the administration to establish agricultural policies that meet the needs of farm businesses.

In the letter, NFO President Paul Olson says as the administration leads policy initiatives and crafts a farm bill, NFO advises continuing support and funding of crop insurance programs and establishing a dairy growth management system.

“Dairy producers need a national dairy policy that protects smaller producers who support their local businesses,” Olson says. “This policy should include a type of growth management that would more closely match dairy production with processing capacity and consumption.”

• Cabinet

President Trump’s Cabinet continues to take shape with an announcement that he intends to nominate Scott Gottlieb as commissioner of FDA.

Gottlieb, a practicing physician and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, served as deputy commissioner at FDA from 2005 to 2007.

Stephen Ostroff now serves as acting commissioner, but he is expected to return to the position of deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine when the new commissioner is confirmed, according to the International Dairy Foods Association.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) says Gottlieb is an excellent choice to lead FDA.

“His experience as FDA deputy commissioner and in other key FDA positions will enable him to quickly step into this important role after his confirmation,” says Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO, GMA. “His appointment will be good for American consumers, the safety of their food and the role of continuous innovation.”

CSPI’s Jacobson says that while Gottlieb is well known for his ties to the pharmaceutical industry and for urging quicker approval of new drugs, if nominated to be the next FDA commissioner, CSPI urges senators to question Gottlieb intensively about his intentions for the food side of the agency.

“FDA has the authority and the capacity to save tens of thousands of lives each year by improving America’s food supply. While having safe and effective drugs is surely important, eliminating the last of the artificial trans fat, reducing sodium and modernizing food labeling are measures that can help Americans from getting sick in the first place,” Jacobson says. “The next commissioner should also be committed to implementing, and securing funding for, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.”

Trump this week also nominated J. Christopher Giancarlo for chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Senate and House agriculture committee chairs praised the announcement.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chair of the Senate Ag Committee, says Giancarlo has been an exceptional member of CFTC.

“His experience on the commission for the last few years and his business background make him well-suited for the job,” Roberts says. “He recognizes the important risk management function the markets have for our farmers, ranchers and end-users.”

K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, chair of the House Ag Committee, says Giancarlo is the right person for the job.

“He is prepared to lead the CFTC on day one, and I look forward to working with him,” Conaway says.

Meanwhile, Roberts and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee, this week announced that the committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to be the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The confirmation hearing will be held March 23.

CMN


FAPRI: Farms to feel pressure,
but demand steady for cheese

March 17, 2017

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The latest analysis of national global agricultural trends from the University of Missouri indicates continued financial pressure on the U.S. farm sector. However, the report also projects steady to increasing demand and consumption for U.S. cheese and butter in the years ahead.

The March 2017 U.S. Baseline Briefing Book by economists at the Food & Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri provides projections for agricultural and biofuel markets based on market information available in January 2017. The report’s macroeconomic assumptions are based primarily on forecasts by IHS Global Insight, which suggest moderate growth in the U.S. and global economies.

“The world is an uncertain place, and commodity markets will continue to be volatile,” says Patrick Westhoff, director, FAPRI. “We use our models to develop a range of projected market outcomes that takes into account some major sources of uncertainty about future supply and demand conditions. In some of the resulting 500 outcomes, prices, quantities and values are much higher or much lower than the averages reported here.”

A decrease in 2017 net farm income is forecast for the fourth consecutive year, the report notes.

Also expected is a continued increase in farmers’ debt-to-asset ratio from a low of 11 percent in 2012 to nearly 14 percent in 2017 and 16 percent in 2026.

The report notes that a strong U.S. dollar has constrained export sales. Although milk prices have dipped since 2014, stronger international markets are projected to buoy prices in 2017.

Milk production grew nearly 2 percent in 2016, even as milk prices declined for the second consecutive year, the report notes. Most states reduced dairy cow inventory during the past 12 months, although gains in Texas, New Mexico, Idaho and Michigan more than offset other declines.

The report forecasts U.S. milk production will reach 216.3 billion pounds in 2017, up from 212.5 billion pounds in 2016. Milk production gradually increases throughout the projection period to reach 242.6 billion pounds by 2026.

Even as projected supply growth slows in 2018, growth still will outpace increases in the U.S. population, underscoring the need for domestic and international demand for dairy products to remain strong, the report says.

FAPRI says per capita consumption of total U.S. cheese is projected to reach 36.8 pounds in 2017, up from 36.3 in 2016. Per capita cheese consumption is forecast to increase throughout the project period to 38.8 pounds by 2026.

Butter also will steadily rise from 6.0 pounds per capita in 2017-2019 before climbing to 6.3 pounds by 2026. Nonfat dry milk (NDM) consumption is projected to increase from 3.3 pounds per capita in 2017 to 3.4 pounds per capita for 2018-2022 before reaching 3.6 pounds by 2026, the report says.

Meanwhile, U.S. per capita milk consumption is projected to decline, the report notes. Per capita fluid milk consumption is forecast to total 170.6 pounds in 2017, down from 173.1 pounds in 2016, and steadily decline to 158.2 pounds by 2026.

U.S. cheese and butter prices posted a strong premium to international markets prices for much of the past two years, the report notes. This has limited net exports of products but has shielded U.S. dairy producers from the steep declines in the international market.

FAPRI forecasts Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) 40-pound block cheese prices will average $1.68 per pound in 2017, up from $1.58 per pound in 2016. Cheese is projected to move in the mid- to upper-$1.60s throughout the projection period before averaging $1.70 in 2026, the report forecasts.

Class III milk prices are projected to average $16.58 per hundredweight in 2017, increase to $17.03 in 2019, and then dip back into the $16-per-hundredweight range for the next four years before increasing to $17.42 by 2026, the report notes. Class IV milk is projected to average $14.90 in 2017 and rise into the $16-per-hundredweight range to reach $16.95 by 2026.

Meanwhile, the all-milk price is projected to average $17.76 per hundredweight in 2017 and gradually increase to $19.16 by 2026, the report says.

CME butter is forecast to average $2.06 per pound in 2017, down from $2.08 per pound in 2016, the report says. CME butter is projected to decline further, settling at $1.90 by 2026.

CME NDM, however, is projected to mostly increase throughout the projection period, averaging $0.98 in 2017 and climbing to $1.30 by 2026.

International prices have rebounded in recent months, and the gap between U.S. and world cheese prices has narrowed, the report adds. With heavy supplies, trade is an important factor in milk price projections.

FAPRI forecasts exports of American cheese will reach 137 million pounds in 2017 and increase steadily throughout the projection period to 187 million pounds by 2026. Exports of other cheese are forecast to rise also, reaching 543 million pounds in 2017 and climbing to 610 million pounds by 2026.

Exports of NDM also are forecast to rise throughout the projection period, the report says. Exports of NDM are forecast to total 1.31 billion pounds in 2017 and steadily increase throughout the projection period to 1.66 billion pounds by 2026.

Meanwhile, after totaling 49 million pounds of exports in 2017, butter exports are forecast to fall to 45 million pounds in 2018 before steadily increasing to 82 million pounds by 2026, the report says.

To view the report, visit www.fapri.missouri.edu/publication/2017-u-s-baseline-briefing-book/.

CMN


Dairy leaders visit Mexico,
vow steadfast commitment

March 17, 2017

WASHINGTON — The leaders of three major U.S. dairy organizations Wednesday promised to continue a strong commitment to their time-tested partnership with Mexico’s dairy industry and consumers.

“We have always seen Mexico as a partner first and a customer second,” U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) President and CEO Tom Vilsack told Mexican dairy leaders attending the National Dairy Forum in Mexico City. “That’s why we intend to continue working with you and your industry to expand the consumption of dairy products in a way that benefits both countries.”

A USDEC blog post this week notes that Vilsack is emphasizing four positive messages while meeting with Mexican government officials, dairy organizations and media.

“The whole purpose of this trip is to make the point that if the U.S. and Mexican dairy industries stay united, we both win,” Vilsack says.

The four messages Vilsack seeks to convey include that Mexico is a highly-valued U.S. dairy customer; the importance of preserving “what’s good” in NAFTA; not conceding to the European Union on geographical indications; and the outlook that the successful dairy partnership between Mexico and the United States can get even better.

“U.S. suppliers will continue to listen to the needs of their customers in Mexico and work to build overall demand for dairy products,” Vilsack says.

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, says Mexico is the United States’ friend, ally and most important trading partner.

He notes that the groups’ goal this week in visiting Mexico is to communicate their steadfast commitment to their partnership with the Mexican industry.

Since NAFTA became law in 1994, U.S. dairy exports to Mexico have more than quadrupled to $1.2 billion. That makes Mexico the U.S. dairy industry’s No. 1 export market, accounting for nearly one-fourth of all U.S. dairy exports last year.

“The United States proudly provides the majority of imported dairy products to Mexican consumers,” adds Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. “We strongly believe that it’s in the best interest of both countries to preserve and enhance our excellent trade relationship, now and in the future.”

As part of the coordinated message of collaboration and partnership with Mexico, the three CEOs of the leading U.S. dairy policy organizations also are meeting with a variety of government officials, including the Mexican Minister of Agriculture and the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.

The reassurance from U.S. dairy leaders comes during a time of political uncertainty on both sides of the border, the groups note.

Meanwhile, executive staff leaders from 11 major U.S. agricultural and agribusiness organizations met with Trump this week on the importance of continued growth of food and agriculture exports.

During the meeting, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn along with agricultural organizations including the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Grain and Feed Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, North American Export Grain Association, Southern Peanut Farmers Federation and USA Rice, noted that 95 percent of their potential customers live beyond the U.S. border, and that the diverse food and agriculture sector supports more than 15 million U.S. jobs, creates more than $423 billion in annual U.S. economic activity, and is the single-largest U.S. manufacturing sector, representing 12 percent of all U.S. manufacturing jobs.

The meeting followed a series of written communications to the Trump administration from the broad-based U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade, as well as a number of the individual organizations, stressing the importance of agricultural trade. Those communications also have expressed an eagerness on behalf of the food and agriculture sector to work actively and constructively with the administration in preserving the major benefits of NAFTA to the sector while seeking further improvements to modernize the 23-year-old accord, as well as to reinvigorate trade negotiations with important U.S. agricultural trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

“It is clear from this meeting and other interactions that the Trump administration understands and intends to pursue expansion of U.S. food and agriculture exports, which contribute to U.S. manufacturing, job creation and economic growth,” the groups said following the meeting. “We are committed to offering substantive proposals and ideas, and look forward to further opportunities to work with the administration and its trade team as they develop specific strategies for engaging in trade negotiations with our most important trading partners. We are pleased that we received assurances from the Trump team that it will take us up on that offer.”

CMN


CME butter to shift to electronic auction April 10

March 17, 2017

CHICAGO — The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group has announced that its transition to an electronic, transaction-based auction that began with nonfat dry milk (NDM) in January will continue with moving spot call butter to the CME Direct Auction Platform on Monday, April 10.

CME encourages customers who are not currently registered and enabled to trade butter on the CME Direct Auction Platform to do so before March 27. The auction time will be revised to accommodate a break between the open outcry cheese sessions and the electronic butter and NDM sessions. No start dates have been announced for moving Cheddar blocks and barrels to the new platform.

The CME Group made the decision last year to change from an open outcry market to an electronic auction in response to industry demand, saying it “will further enhance the transparency of prices and user experience, while expanding access to a broader set of commercial dairy customers, brokers and other physical market participants.” (See “CME Dairy Spot Call will go electronic in December” in the Sept. 30, 2016, issue of Cheese Market News.)

Dave Carlin, senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), says the change is a welcome one for IDFA and its members.

The CME Group plans to work closely with customers and the industry to continue a smooth transition. The company says the change will have no impact on the availability and accessibility of dairy futures and options products, which enable customers to manage their dairy price risk.

CMN


Pasture Pride showcases Juusto made with milk from Amish farms

By Kate Sander

CASHTON, Wis. — Amish settlements are known for their quiet, traditional way of life — horses and buggies, a handful of cows, handmade wares and family ties.

Yet despite being set apart, today’s Amish families must increasingly interface with non-Amish to sell their products. For an Amish settlement in southwestern Wisconsin, that’s where Pasture Pride Cheese comes in.

To turn their cans of fresh milk into cheese, the Amish farmers in Monroe County have long contracted with the Everhart family. Third generation cheesemaker Kevin Everhart and his wife Kim operate Pasture Pride Cheese, manufacturing product that is sold under the Pasture Pride brand. The cheese is in turn marketed by Mary Bess Michaletz, who started with the company in 2014.

Since the late 1980s the plant has marketed Muenster, and it later began producing other types of cheeses with the Amish community’s milk. The company still makes Muenster, but its flagship cheese is now Juusto, a cheese based on the Old World, traditional Finnish “Juustolepia” — also known as bread cheese.

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Black Pepper BellaVitano wins Championship Cheese Contest

March 10, 2017

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano was named best cheese in the United States Thursday at the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest held in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The winning cheese, crafted by Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski at Sartori Co.’s Antigo, Wisconsin, facility, won with a final-round score of 99.02 out of 100. Sartori Co. has won the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest once before with its SarVecchio Parmesan in 2009.

Wisconsin cheeses swept the top three spots at this year’s championship. First runner-up, with a final round score of 98.81, went to a Cheddar aged 1-2 years made by Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Terry Lensmire of Agropur, Weyauwega, Wisconsin. Second runner-up was Marieke Gouda Belegen, with a final round score of 98.59, made by the Marieke Gouda Team in Thorp, Wisconsin. Marieke Penterman of Marieke Gouda was the Grand Champion in the 2013 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.

“Location aside, what these winning cheesemakers have in common is experience and passion,” says John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, which hosts the biennial competition. “As we recognize the efforts of these fine craftsmen and women, we support continuous improvement in the cheesemaking industry and in the products we all enjoy with our family and friends.”

This year’s contest drew a record 2,303 cheese entries from 33 states. A team of 50 nationally-renowned judges from 18 different states considered each entry’s flavor, body and texture, salt, color, finish and packaging, and they determined the top three cheeses via an independent scoring system.

In addition to the champion and two runners-up, the top 20 finalists of the contest include: Team Meister 3, Meister Cheese, Muscoda, Wisconsin, Medium Cheddar; Terry Lensmire, Agrour, Weyauwega, Wisconsin, Cheddar cut from 640; Daniel Stearns, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wisconsin, Cheddar cut from 640; Saxon Cheese LLC, Cleveland, Wisconsin, Old English Style Cheddar aged 5 months and Smoked Gouda aged 7 months; Wayne Hintz, Red Barn Family Farms, Appleton, Wisconsin, Bandaged Cheddar sharp to aged; Casey Petak, Rothenbuhler Cheesemakers, Middlefield, Ohio, Baby Swiss; Imperia Foods Montfort, Wisconsin, Team, Schuman Cheese, Fairfield, New Jersey, Montforte Bleu Wheel; Jasper Hill, Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro Bend, Vermont, Moses Sleeper; Marieke Gouda Team, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin, Marieke Gouda Belegen and Marieke Gouda Aged; Christopher Gonzales, Glanbia Nutritionals, Twin Falls, Idaho, Gouda/Green Olives & Pimento; Lake Country Dairy Team, Schuman Cheese, Fairfield, New Jersey, Yellow Door Creamery Harissa Rubbed Fontal Cheese; Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wisconsin, Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano and Sartori Tre Donnes; Zimmerman Cheese Team 2, Zimmerman Cheese, South Wayne, Wisconsin, Smoked Brick; John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creak Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Reduced Fat Muenster; Widmer’s Cheese Cellars, Theresa, Wisconsin, Traditional Washed Rind Aged Brick Spread; Cypress Grove, Arcata, California, Fresh Goat Cheese; and Team Montchevre, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wisconsin, Trivium.

The three top-scoring entries in each category were:

• Cheddar, Mild (0 to 3 months)
Best of Class: Shawn Sadler, Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), Jim Falls, Wisconsin, White Cheddar/Vat 5, 12/10/16, 99.40.
Second: Andy Follen, Lynn Dairy Inc., Granton, Wisconsin, Mild Cheddar, 98.65.
Third: Middlebury Cheese Team, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Middlebury, Vermont, Vermont Mild Cheddar, 98.60.

• Cheddar, Medium (3 to 6 months)
Best of Class: Team Meister 3, Meister Cheese, Muscoda, Wisconsin, Medium Cheddar, 99.25.
Second: Kiel Cheesemakers, Land O’Lakes Inc., Kiel, Wisconsin, Medium Cheddar, 99.05.
Third: Charles VanDyke, Great Lakes Cheese, Adams, New York, Cheddar, 98.75.

• Cheddar, Sharp (6 months to 1 year)
Best of Class: Dan Stearns, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wisconsin, Cheddar cut from 640, 99.05.
Second: AMPI-Blair, Blair, Wisconsin, Sharp Cheddar, 99.00.
Third: Maple Leaf Cheesemaking Team, Maple Leaf Cheesemakers Inc., Monroe, Wisconsin, English Hollow Cheddar, 98.95.

• Cheddar, Aged 1-2 years
Best of Class: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wisconsin, Cheddar cut from 640, 99.30.
Second: Kiel Production Team, Land O’Lakes Inc., Kiel, Wisconsin, Aged Cheddar - 1-2 years, 99.25.
Third: Daniel Stearns, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wisconsin, Cheddar cut from 640, 99.15.

• Cheddar, Aged 2 Years or Longer
Best of Class: Daniel Stearns, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wisconsin, Cheddar cut from 640, 99.45.
Second: Land O’Lakes Kiel, Masters Gallery Foods Inc., Plymouth, Wisconsin, Land O’Lakes Aged Cheddar, 99.30.
Third: Kiel Cheesemakers, Land O’Lakes Inc., Kiel, Wisconsin, Aged Cheddar - Over 2 Years, 99.05.

• Bandaged Cheddar, Mild to Medium
Best of Class: Saxon Cheese LLC, Cleveland, Wisconsin, Old English Style Cheddar, aged 5 months, 99.10.
Second: Wayne Hintz, Red Barn Family Farms, Appleton, Wisconsin, 99.05.
Third: Chris Roelli, Roelli Cheese Co., Shullsburg, Wisconsin, Roelli Haus Select Mild, 98.90.

• Bandaged Cheddar, Sharp to Aged
Best of Class: Wayne Hintz, Red Barn Family Farms, Appleton, Wisconsin, lot 45826 vat 3, 99.15.
Second: GVC Cheesemakers, Grafton Village Cheese, Brattleboro, Vermont, Queen of Quality Clothbound Cheddar Reserve, 98.70.
Third: GVC Cheesemakers, Grafton Village Cheese, Brattleboro, Vermont, Queen of Quality Clothbound Cheddar, 98.65.

• Colby
Best of Class: LaGrander’s Cheese Team No. 2, LaGrander’s Hillside Dairy, Inc., Stanley, Wisconsin, Colby Longhorn, 98.75.
Second: Artisan Cheese Exchange, Henning Cheese, Kiel, Wisconsin, Colby Midget 1/6/17, 98.60.
Third: Burnett Dairy-Wilson, Burnett Dairy Cooperative, Wilson, Wisconsin, Colby No. 1, 98.45.

• Monterey Jack
Best of Class: Team Meister 2, Meister Cheese, Muscoda, Wisconsin, 99.40.
Second: Team SWC, Southwest Cheese LLC, Clovis, New Mexico, 99.35.
Third: Tillamook County Creamery, Tillamook, Oregon, 99.15.

• Marbled Curd Cheese
Best of Class: Sam Metzger, Agropur, Hull, Iowa, Colby Jack (cut 640), 98.60.
Second: Jesse Hernandez, Glanbia Nutritionals, Twin Falls, Idaho, Colby Jack, 98.50.
Third: Roger Schmith, Agropur, Hull, Iowa, Colby Jack (cut 640), 98.30.

• Swiss Style Cheese
Best of Class: Team Guggisberg Sugarcreek, Guggisberg Cheese, Millersburg, Ohio, 200-pound Aged Emmental Block, 99.75.
Second: Swiss Team, Pearl Valley Cheese, Fresno, Ohio, Swiss Cheese, 99.10.
Third: Team Guggisberg Sugarcreek, Guggisberg Cheese, Millersburg, Ohio, 200-pound Swiss Block, 98.90.

• Mozzarella
Best of Class: Candido’s Team, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), Turlock, California, whole-milk Mozzarella 2017-B, 97.65.
Second: Roger L. Krohn, Agropur, Luxemburg, Wisconsin, Low Moisture Mozzarella, whole milk, 97.55.
Third: Team Lake Norden, Agropur, Lake Norden, South Dakota, low-moisture whole-milk Mozzarella, 97.45.

• Mozzarella, Part Skim
Best of Class: Roger L. Krohn, Agropur, Luxemburg, Wisconsin, low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella, 98.85.
Second: Team Three, Empire Cheese, Inc., Cuba, New York, Part Skim, 98.80.
Third: Terry Lenmsire, Agropur, Luxemburg, Wisconsin, low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella, 98.75.

• Fresh Mozzarella
Best of Class: Crave Brothers Team, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC, Waterloo, Wisconsin, 99.50.
Second: Crave Brothers Team, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC, Waterloo, Wisconsin, 99.45.
Third: Crave Brothers Team, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC, Waterloo, Wisconsin, 99.40.

• Provolone, Mild
Best of Class: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Luxemburg, Wisconsin, 98.95.
Second: Arturo’s Team, DFA, Turlock, California, 98.80.
Third: Team Two, Empire Cheese Inc., Cuba, New York, 98.75.

• Provolone, Aged
Best of Class: Team Clayton B, Foremost Farms USA, Clayton, Wisconsin, 99.15.
Second: Team Clayton A, Foremost Farms USA, Clayton, Wisconsin, 99.00.
Third: Team One, Empire Cheese Inc., Cuba, New York, 98.75.

• Smoked Provolone
Best of Class: Team Lake Norden, Agropur, Lake Norden, South Dakota, 98.75.
Second: Team One, Empire Cheese Inc., Cuba, New York, 98.70.
Third: C. V. 2nd Shift Team, Cedar Valley Cheese Inc., Belgium, Wisconsin, 98.65.

• Ricotta
Best of Class: Liam Callahan, Bellwether Farms, Petaluma, California, Whole Milk Jersey Basket Ricotta, 99.50.
Second: Tomas Robles, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wisconsin, BelGioioso Ricotta con Latte Whole Milk, 99.30.
Third: Joe Taranto, Montena Taranto Foods, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Traditional Italian, 98.90.

• Parmesan
Best of Class: Dan Szczepanski, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wisconsin, BelGioioso Parmesan, 99.75.
Second: Steve Bierhals, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wisconsin, BelGioioso American Grana, 99.50.
Third: Lake Country Dairy Team, Schuman Cheese, Fairfield, New Jersey, Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan Wheel, 99.45.

• Fresh Asiago
Best of Class: Team SWC, Southwest Cheese LLC, Clovis, New Mexico, Southwest Asiago, 99.30.
Second: Randy Krahenbuhl, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wisconsin, BelGioioso Asiago, 99.10.
Third: Saxon Creamery Team, Saxon Cheese LLC, Cleveland, Wisconsin, Whole Milk Asiago (Fresh Style) aged 4 months, 98.75.

• Aged Asiago (over 6 months)
Best of Class: Team Almena on behalf of Saputo, Saputo Specialty Cheese, Richfield, Wisconsin, Stella Aged Asiago, 99.30.
Second: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wisconsin, Sartori Reserve Extra-Aged Asiago, 99.10.
Third: Erin Radtke, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wisconsin, Sartori Classic Asiago, 98.95.

• Baby Swiss Style
Best of Class: Casey Petak, Rothenbuhler Cheesemakers, Middlefield, Ohio, Baby Swiss, 99.40.
Second: Team Guggisberg Doughty Valley, Guggisberg Cheese, Millersburg, Ohio, Baby Swiss Wheel, 99.10.
Third: Penn Cheese, Winfield, Pennsylvania, Full Cream Baby Swiss Deli Style Loaf, 98.70.

• Feta
Best of Class: Steve Webster, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin, Odyssey Feta, 99.10.
Second: Micah Klug, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wisconsin, Feta, 98.85.
Third: Randy Timm, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wisconsin, Feta, 98.55.

• Feta, Flavored
Best of Class: Luke Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin, Odyssey Mediterranean Feta, 99.35.
Second: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wisconsin, Feta with Peppercorn, 99.30.
Third: Jim Demeter, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin, Odyssey Peppercorn Feta, 99.05.

• Havarti
Best of Class: Emmi Roth USA, Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Whole Milk Havarti, 99.15.
Second: Bruce Workman, Fair Oaks Farms, Fair Oaks, Indiana, Havarti 1/5/17 vat 5, 99.00.
Third: Team Edelweiss, Edelweiss Creamery, Monticello, Wisconsin, Havarti 1/17/2017 vat 4, 98.70.

• Havarti, Flavored
Best of Class: Decatur Cheesemakers, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, Wisconsin, Havarti Mediterranean Herb, 99.25.
Second: Ron Bechtolt, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin, Dill Havarti, 99.10.
Third: Valerie Arechiga, Glanbia Nutritionals, Twin Falls, Idaho, Havarti/Garlic, 99.00.

• String Cheese
Best of Class: Cesar & Heydi, Cesar’s Cheese, Random Lake, Wisconsin, Hand Stretched String Cheese Batch 2, 99.50.
Second: Mark Boelk, Chula Vista Cheese Co./V&V Supremo Foods, Browntown, Wisconsin, Mexican String Cheese, 99.30.
Third: Little Cesar & Damaris, Cesar’s Cheese, Random Lake, Wisconsin, Hand Stretched String Cheese Batch 3, 99.20.

• Flavored String Cheese
Best of Class: Anthony Mongiello, Formaggio Italian Cheese Specialties, Hurleyville, New York, Strings of Cheese Truffle Oil & Basil, 98.70.
Second: Kevin Entringer, Baker Cheese Factory Inc., St. Cloud, Wisconsin, Jalapeno Peppers, 98.55.
Third: Anthony Mongiello, Formaggio Italian Cheese Specialties, Hurleyville, New York, Strings of Cheese Marinated, 98.50.

• Cottage Cheese
Best of Class: Cottage Team, Westby Co-op Creamery, Westby, Wisconsin, 4-percent Small Curd Cottage Cheese, 95.00.
Second: West Seneca Cultured Division, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, West Buffalo, New York, 5-percent Fat Cottage Cheese, 94.75.
Third: Gillis Richards, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot, Vermont, Vermont Style Cottage Cheese, 94.35.

• Gorgonzola
Best of Class: Team Salemville on behalf of Saputo, Saputo Specialty Cheese, Richfield, Wisconsin; Salemville Gorgonzola, 99.65.
Second: Team KS Selection, Costco Wholesale, Issaquah, Washington, Kirkland Signature “American Blue” cheese, 99.35.
Third: Team Seymour, Great Lakes Cheese, Seymour, Wisconsin, Gorgonzola, 99.30.

• Blue-Veined, Exterior Molding
Best of Class: von Trapp Farmstead, Waitsfield, VT, Mad River Blue, 99.30.
Second: Blue Team, Rogue Creamery, Central Point, Oregon, Organic Caveman Blue, 99.15.
Third: Murray’s Cheese & Consider Bardwell, Murray’s Cheese, Long Island City, New York, Barden Blue, 98.45.

• Blue-Veined
Best of Class: Imperia Foods Montfort WI team, Schuman Cheese, Fairfield, New Jersey, Montforte Bleu Wheel, 98.95.
Second: Emmi Roth USA, Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Roth Buttermilk Blue, 98.45.
Third: Blue Team, Rogue Creamery, Central Point, Oregon, Organic Oregon Blue, 97.70.

• Brick, Muenster
Best of Class: Luke Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin, Brick, 99.70.
Second: Steve Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin, Brick, 99.60.
Third: Ron Bechtolt, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin, Brick, 99.55.

• Brie & Camembert
Best of Class: Jasper Hill, Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro Bend, Vermont, Moses Sleeper, 99.40.
Second: Israel Gil, Old Europe Cheese Inc., Benton Harbor, Michigan, 3-kilogram Double Cream Brie, 99.05.
Third: Green Hill, Sweet Grass Dairy, Thomasville, Georgia, 012617, 99.00.

• Open Class: Soft Ripened Cheeses
Best of Class: Jasper Hill, Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro Bend, Vermont, Harbison, 99.75.
Second: Lactalis American Group, Belmont, Wisconsin, 1-kilogram Triple Cream, 99.55.
Third: Aged Cheese Team, Vermont Creamery, Websterville, Vermont, St. Albans, 99.50.

• Edam & Gouda
Best of Class: Marieke Gouda Team, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin, Marieke Gouda Belegen, 99.55.
Second: Dave Newman, Arla Foods, Kaukauna, Wisconsin, Gouda wheel, 99.50.
Third: Marieke Gouda Team, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin, Marieke Gouda Belegen (4-6 month), 99.45.

• Gouda, Aged
Best of Class: Marieke Gouda Team, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin, Marieke Gouda Aged, 99.65.
Second: Marieke Gouda Team, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin, Marieke Gouda Aged, 99.60.
Third: Marieke Gouda Team, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin, Marieke Gouda Mature, 99.25.

• Gouda, Flavored
Best of Class: Christopher Gonzales, Glanbia Nutritionals, Twin Falls, Idaho, Gouda/Green Olives & Pimento, 99.05.
Second: Marieke Gouda Team, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin, Marieke Gouda Truffle, 98.50.
Third: Marieke Gouda Team, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin, Marieke Gouda Bacon, 98.10.

• Smoked Gouda
Best of Class: Saxon Creamery Team, Saxon Cheese LLC, Cleveland, Wisconsin, Smoked Gouda Aged 7 months, 99.55.
Second: Eric Steltenpohl, Saxon Cheese LLC, Cleveland, Wisconsin, Smoked Gouda Aged 8 months, 99.15.
Third: Marieke Gouda Team, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin, Marieke Gouda Smoked Cumin, 98.95.

• Fresh Hispanic Cheeses (Quesos Frescos)
Best of Class: Marquez Brothers International, Hanford, California, Queso Panela, 99.85.
Second: Marquez Brothers International, Hanford, California, Cremoso, 99.80.
Third: Gerardo Adame, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Queso Blanco, 99.65.

• Hispanic Melting Cheeses (Quesos para Fundir)
Best of Class: Casey Berget, Chula Vista Cheese Co./V&V Supremo Foods, Browntown, Wisconsin, Oaxaca Cheese Ball, 99.35.
Second: Tom Dahmen, Chula Vista Cheese Co./V&V Supremo Foods, Browntown, Wisconsin, Oaxaca Cheese Ball, 99.00.
Third: Torkelson Cheese Co., Lena, Illinois, Quesadilla, 98.95.

• Hard Hispanic Cheeses (Queso Duro)
Best of Class: Team V&V Supremo, V&V Supremo Foods Inc., Chicago, Cotija Wheel, 99.60.
Second: MCP Team, Mexican Cheese Producers Inc. (Bar-S), Darlington, Wisconsin, Cotija Wheel AF, 99.55.
Third: MCP Team, Mexican Cheese Producers Inc. (Bar-S), Darlington, Wisconsin, Queso Cotija Wheel, 99.50.

• Open Class: Smear Ripened Soft Cheeses
Best of Class: Jasper Hill, Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro Bend, Vermont, Willoughby, 99.70.
Second: Murray’s Cheese & Jasper Hill, Murray’s Cheese, Long Island City, New York, Greensward, 99.65.
Third: von Trapp Farmstead, Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro Bend, Vermont, Oma, 99.60.

• Open Class: Smear Ripened Semi-soft (Semi-hard) Cheeses
Best of Class: Matthew Brichford, Jacobs and Brichford Farmstead Cheese, Connersville, Indiana, Everton Premium Reserve, 99.55
Second: Matthew Brichford, Jacobs and Brichford Farmstead Cheese, Connersville, Indiana, Everton No. 190, 99.45
Third: Team Chalet on behalf of Saputo, Saputo Specialty Cheese, Richfield, Wisconsin, Liederkranz Cheese, 99.35.

• Open Class: Smear Ripened Hard Cheeses
Best of Class: Emmi Roth USA, Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Roth Grand Cru Reserve, 99.35.
Second: Emmi Roth USA, Fitchburg, Wisconsin,Roth’s Private Reserve, 99.30.
Third: Emmi Roth USA, Fitchburg, Wisconsin,Roth’s Grand Cru Original, 99.20.

• Pepper Flavored Monterey Jack, Mild Heat
Best of Class: Team Alto on behalf of Saputo, Saputo Specialty Cheese, Richfield, Wisconsin,Pepper Jack, 99.55.
Second: Team SWC, Southwest Cheese LLC, Clovis, New Mexico,Pepper Jack, 99.50.
Third: Shawn Sadler, AMPI, Jim Falls, Wisconsin, Monterey Jack with Jalapeno Peppers/Vat 36, 12/27/16, 99.45.

• Pepper Flavored Monterey Jack, Medium Heat
Best of Class: Team SWC, Southwest Cheese LLC, Clovis, New Mexico,Pepper Jack, 99.30.
Second: Team SWC, Southwest Cheese LLC, Clovis, New Mexico,Pepper Jack, 99.25.
Third: Team SWC, Southwest Cheese LLC, Clovis, New Mexico,Pepper Jack, 99.10.

• Pepper Flavored Monterey Jack, High Heat
Best of Class: Team SWC, Southwest Cheese LLC, Clovis, New Mexico,Ghost Pepper Jack, 99.80.
Second: Maple Leaf Cheesemaking Team 2, Maple Leaf Cheesemakers Inc., Monroe, Wisconsin, Habanero Jack, 99.70.
Third: Maple Leaf Cheesemaking Team 1, Maple Leaf Cheesemakers Inc., Monroe, Wisconsin, Habanero Jack, 99.35.

• Open Class: Pepper Flavored Cheeses, Mild Heat
Best of Class: John(Randy)Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Mild Chile Pepper Quesadilla, 99.60.
Second: MouCo Cheese Co. Inc., Fort Collins, Colorado, MouCo PepBert, 99.55.
Third: John(Randy)Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Mild Chile Pepper Muenster, 99.50.

• Open Class: Pepper Flavored Cheeses, Medium Heat
Best of Class: Saxon Creamery Team, Saxon Cheese LLC, Cleveland, Wisconsin, Gouda w/ Serrano Peppers Aged 9 months, 99.25.
Second: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co. Inc., LaValle, Wisconsin, Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar, 98.60.
Third: Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, Wisconsin, Havarti Pepper, 98.45.

• Open Class: Pepper Flavored Cheeses, High Heat
Best of Class: Team SWC, Southwest Cheese LLC, Clovis, New Mexico,Habanero Cheddar, 98.35.
Second: Team SWC, Southwest Cheese LLC, Clovis, New Mexico,Habanero Cheddar, 98.15.
Third: Team SWC, Southwest Cheese LLC, Clovis, New Mexico,Habanero Cheddar, 98.10.

• Open Class: Soft Cheeses
Best of Class: Fresh Cheese Team, Vermont Creamery, Websterville, Vermont, Crème Fraîche Madagascar Vanilla, 99.75.
Second: Nampa Mascarpone Team, Lactalis American Group, Nampa, Idaho, Galbani Mascarpone, 99.70.
Third: Alouette Cheese USA, New Holland, Pennsylvania, Alouette Creme Fraiche, 99.40.

• Open Class: Semi-soft Cheeses
Best of Class: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Farmer, 99.60.
Second: Marieke Gouda Team, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin, Marieke Golden, 99.50.
Third: Marieke Gouda Team, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin, Marieke Golden, 99.40.

• Open Class: Hard Cheeses
Best of Class: Sequatchie Cove Creamery, Sequatchie, Tennessee, Cumberland batch 323, 99.25.
Second: Saxon Creamery Team, Saxon Cheese LLC, Cleveland, Wisconsin, Alpine Style 22 months, 99.15.
Third: Saxon Creamery Team, Saxon Cheese LLC, Cleveland, Wisconsin, Alpine Style 12 months, 99.00.

• Open Class: Flavored Soft Cheeses
Best of Class: Bryan Springborn, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, WI, BelGioioso Burrata with Black Truffles, 99.55.
Second: Lactalis American Group, Belmont, Wisconsin, 3-kilogram Brie with Herbs, 99.25.
Third: Louis Vazquez, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wisconsin, Zesty Marinated Hand Braided Fresh Mozzarella, 99.20.

• Open Class: Flavored Semi-soft (Semi-Hard) Cheeses
Best of Class: Lake Country Dairy Team, Arthur Schuman Inc., Fairfield, New Jersey, Yellow Door Creamery Harissa Rubbed Fontal Cheese, 99.05.
Second: Marieke Gouda Team, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin, Marieke Gouda HoneyClover, 98.80.
Third: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Caraway Brick, 98.75.

• Open Class: Flavored Hard Cheeses
Best of Class: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wisconsin, Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano, 99.45.
Second: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wisconsin, Sartori Reserve Citrus Ginger BellaVitano, 99.40.
Third: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wisconsin, Sartori Reserve Herbs de Provence BellaVitano, 99.35.

• Open Class: Flavored Cheeses with Sweet or Condiments
Best of Class: Penn Cheese, Winfield, Pennsylvania, Vache: Smooth and creamy yet somewhat curd defined with cranberry, orange flavoring, 99.05.
Second: Team Hennings on behalf of Saputo, Saputo Specialty Cheese, Richfield, Wisconsin,Blueberry Cobbler Cheddar, 98.85.
Third: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wisconsin, Sartori Reserve Rum Runner BellaVitano, 98.55.

• Open Class: Smoked Soft and Semi-soft (Semi-hard) Cheeses
Best of Class: Zimmerman Cheese Team 2, Zimmerman Cheese, South Wayne, Wisconsin, Smoked Brick, 99.00.
Second: Team Lake Norden, Agropur, Lake Norden, South Dakota, Smoked low-moisture, whole-milk Mozzarella, 98.90.
Third: Zimmerman Cheese Team 1, Zimmerman Cheese, South Wayne, Wisconsin, Smoked Brick, 98.55.

• Open Class: Smoked Hard Cheeses
Best of Class: Pearl Valley Cheese, Fresno, Ohio, Smoked Natural Swiss, 97.85.
Second: Team Meister 2, Meister Cheese, Muscoda, Wisconsin, Smoked Colored Cheddar, 97.10.
Third: Mike Nelson, Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, Wisconsin, 2/6-pound Natural Smoked Baby Swiss slabs, 97.05.

• Reduced Fat Soft & Semi-soft Cheeses
Best of Class: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Reduced Fat Muenster, 99.65.
Second: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wisconsin, Reduced Fat Brick, 99.45.
Third: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wisconsin, Reduced Fat Feta, 99.40.

• Reduced Fat Hard Cheeses
Best of Class: Terry Chase, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot, Vermont, Vermont 50-percent Reduced Fat Jalapeno Cheddar, 99.60.
Second: Maple Leaf Cheesemaking Team, Maple Leaf Cheesemakers Inc., Monroe, Wisconsin, Gouda, 99.55.
Third: Morfin Troy, Glanbia Nutritionals, Twin Falls, Idaho, Reduced Fat Cheddar, 99.30.

• Lowfat Cheeses
Best of Class: Steve Webster, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin, Odyssey Fat Free Feta in Brine, 99.60.
Second: Ricotta Team, Lactalis American Group, Buffalo, New York, Low Fat Whey Based Ricotta, 99.20.
Third: Lactalis American Group, Belmont, Wisconsin, Fat-Free Feta 6-ounce, 99.05.

• Reduced Sodium Cheeses
Best of Class: Connor Bowman, Rothenbuhler Cheesemakers, Middlefield, Ohio, Reduced Sodium Swiss, 99.75.
Second: Ryan Shaheen, Rothenbuhler Cheesemakers, Middlefield, Ohio, Reduced Sodium Swiss, 99.50.
Third: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Luxemburg, Wisconsin, Reduced Sodium Provolone, 99.40.

• Cold Pack Cheese, Cheese Food
Best of Class: Widmer’s Cheese Cellars, Theresa, Wisconsin, Traditional Washed Rind Aged Brick Spread, 99.45.
Second: Team Pine River, Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton, Wisconsin, Chunky Bleu Cold Pack Cheese Food, 99.40.
Third: Team Pine River, Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton, Wisconsin, Smokey Bacon Cold Pack Cheese Food, 99.30.

• Cold Pack Cheese Spread
Best of Class: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co. Inc., LaValle, Wisconsin, Swiss Almond Cold Pack Spread, 99.10.
Second: Lon Riedel, Lactalis U.S.A., Inc., Merrill, Wisconsin, Black Diamond Extra Sharp Cheddar Spreadable Cheese 1/20/17, 98.85.
Third: Saxon Creamery Team, Saxon Cheese LLC, Cleveland, Wisconsin, Gouda Cold Pack Cheese Spread, 98.65.

• Spreadable Natural Cheeses
Best of Class: Schreiber Foods, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Whipped Plain Cream Cheese Spread, 99.25.
Second: Schreiber Foods, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Plain Cream Cheese Spread, 99.20.
Third: California Dairies, Inc., Visalia, California, Real Cream Cheese, 98.75.

• Flavored Spreadable Natural Cheeses
Best of Class: Lyle Gast Jr., Lactalis USA Inc., Merrill, Wisconsin, Président Pub Cheddar Horseradish Spreadable Cheese lot 1/17/17, 99.50.
Second: Schreiber Foods, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Strawberry Cream Cheese Spread, 99.45.
Third: Shawn Schult, Lactalis USA Inc., Merrill, Wisconsin, Rondelé Organic Garden Vegetable Gourmet Spreadable Cheese, 99.35.

• Pasteurized Process Cheeses
Best of Class: Loaf Day Shift, Bongards Premium Cheese, Bongards, Minnesota, American Deli Loaf, 99.45.
Second: Process Loaf Team, AMPI, Portage, Wisconsin, Colored American Pasteurized Process Cheese Loaf, 99.25.
Third: Process Loaf Team, AMPI, Portage, Wisconsin, White American Pasteurized Process Easy Melt Cheese Loaf, 99.05.

• Flavored Pasteurized Process Cheeses
Best of Class: Old Croc Cheese, Trugman-Nash & Gilman Cheese Corp., Millburn, New Jersey, Horseradish Pasteurized Process Cheddar made with Old Croc, 98.90.
Second: Old Croc Cheese, Trugman-Nash & Gilman Cheese Corp., Millburn, New Jersey, Bacon & Jalapeño Pasteurized Process Cheddar made with Old Croc, 98.40.
Third: Old Croc Cheese, Trugman-Nash & Gilman Cheese Corp., Millburn, New Jersey, Roasted Garlic & Herb Pasteurized Process Cheddar made with Old Croc, 98.30.

• Pasteurized Process Cheese Slices
Best of Class: Process Slice Team, AMPI, Portage, Wisconsin, American Pasteurized Process Cheese Slices, 97.65.
Second: Land O’Lakes, Spencer, Wisconsin, White American/Swiss Slice, 97.50.
Third: Slice B Shift, Bongards Premium Cheese, Bongards, Minnesota, Processed American with Peppers Slice on Slice, 96.35.

• Pasteurized Process Cheese Spread
Best of Class: Alouette Cheese USA, New Holland, Pennsylvania, Alouette Original Creme de Brie, 99.45.
Second: Dairyfood USA Team, Dairyfood USA Inc., Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, Naturally Smoked Gouda Spread lot 120717, 99.05.
Third: Team Whitehall, Whitehall Specialties, Whitehall, Wisconsin, White Cheddar Ranch, 98.90.

• Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses
Best of Class: Cypress Grove, Arcata, California, Fresh cream with a citrus finish, 99.30.
Second: Cypress Grove, Arcata, California, Fresh cream with a citrus finish, 99.25.
Third: Manon Servouse, Laura Chenel’s, Sonoma, California, Laura Chenel’s Chef Chevre 7-ounce, 99.20.

• Flavored Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses
Best of Class: Team Montchevre, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wisconsin, 4-ounce Truffle, 99.20.
Second: Team Montchevre, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wisconsin, 8-ounce Pepper, 99.15.
Third: Cypress Grove, Arcata, California, A blend of peppers and spices including chili threads, 98.90.

• Flavored Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses with Sweet Condiments
Best of Class: Team Montchevre, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wisconsin, 4-ounce Blueberry Vanilla, 99.50.
Second: Team Mackenzie, Mackenzie Creamery, Hiram, Ohio, Apricot Ginger Chevre, 99.30.
Third: Team Mackenzie, Mackenzie Creamery, Hiram, Ohio, Cognac Fig Chevre, 99.10.

• Surface (Mold) Ripened Goat’s Milk Cheeses
Best of Class: Cypress Grove, Arcata, California, Fresh goat cheese with a bloomy rind and distinct layer of edible black ash, 99.85.
Second: Cypress Grove, Arcata, California, Italian black summer truffles in soft- ripened goat cheese, 99.80.
Third: Jackie Chang, Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, Longmont, Colorado, Pasteurized goat’s milk Camembert 8-ounce disk batch No. 10-7, 99.75.

• Semi-soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses
Best of Class: Team Montchevre, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wisconsin, 2-pound Crumble Tray, 99.65.
Second: Katie Fuhrmann and Team, LaClare Farms, LaClare Farms Specialties LLC, Malone, Wisconsin, Goat Milk Feta, 99.45.
Third: Trent Hendricks, Cabriejo LLC, Koshkonong, Missouri, Queso Cabriejo, 99.25.

• Flavored Semi-soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses
Best of Class: Team Montchevre, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wisconsin, 4-ounce Crumble Apricot & Sage, 99.55.
Second: Carr Valley Cheesemakers, Carr Valley Cheese Co. Inc., LaValle, Wisconsin, Cocoa Cardona, 99.45.
Third: Team Montchevre, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wisconsin, 4-ounce Crumble Candied Cranberry, 99.25.

• Hard Goat’s Milk Cheeses
Best of Class: Team Montchevre, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wisconsin, Trivium, 99.45.
Second: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co., Inc., La Valle, Wisconsin, Cave Aged Cardona, 99.40.
Third: Katie Fuhrmann and Team, LaClare Farms, LaClare Farms Specialties LLC, Malone, Wisconsin, Grevalon, wash rind aged goat milk, 99.35.

• Soft & Semi-soft Sheep’s Milk Cheeses
Best of Class: Landmark Creamery Team, Landmark Creamery, Albany, Wisconsin, Petit Nuage, 99.75.
Second: Ryan Randell & Peter Baldino, Old Chatham Sheepherding Co., Old Chatham, New York, Mini Kinderhook Creek, 99.60.
Third: Ryan Randell & Peter Baldino, Old Chatham Sheepherding Co., Old Chatham, New York, Kinderhook Creek, 99.40.

• Flavored Soft & Semi-soft Sheep’s Milk Cheeses
Best of Class: Murray’s Cheese & Old Chatham Sheepherding Co., Murray’s Cheese, Long Island City, New York, Hudson Flower, 98.40.
Second: Eric Anderson & Gregory Bankes, Old Chatham Sheepherding Co., Old Chatham, New York, Shaker Blue, 98.35.
Third: Brenda Jensen, Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, Wisconsin, Driftless - Cranberry Cinnamon, 98.15.

• Hard Sheep’s Milk Cheeses
Best of Class: GVC Cheesemakers, Grafton Village Cheese, Brattleboro, Vermont, Bear Hill, 99.70.
Second: Brenda Jensen, Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, Wisconsin, Ocooch Reserve, 99.65.
Third: Cedar Grove Team, Cedar Grove Cheese, Plain, Wisconsin, Donatello, 99.60.

• Soft & Semi-soft Mixed Milk Cheeses
Best of Class: Liam Callahan, Bellwether Farms, Petaluma, California, Blackstone - A Bellwether Farms Original, 99.35.
Second: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co., Inc., La Valle, Wisconsin, Mobay, 99.05.
Third: Anthony Ellis, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wisconsin, BelGioioso Crumbly Gorgonzola with Sheep’s Milk, 98.85.

• Surface (Mold) Ripened Mixed Milk Cheeses
Best of Class: Sheila Flanagan, Lumazu LLC dba Nettle Meadow, Warrensburg, New York, Briar Summit, 98.90.
Second: Sheila Flanagan, Lumazu LLC dba Nettle Meadow, Warrensburg, New York, Sappy Ewe, 98.70.
Third: Ryan Randell & Peter Baldino, Old Chatham Sheepherding Co., Old Chatham, New York, Hudson Valley Camembert, 98.45.

• Hard Mixed Milk Cheeses
Best of Class: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wisconsin, Sartori Tre Donnes, 99.80.
Second: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wisconsin, Sartori Limited Edition Pastorale Blend, 99.60.
Third: Central Coast Creamery, Paso Robles, California, Seascape, 99.50.

• Butter
Best of Class: Team 1, O-AT-KA Milk Products Co-op Inc., Batavia, New York, Salted Butter, 99.80.
Second: Team 2, O-AT-KA Milk Products Co-op Inc., Batavia, New York, Salted Butter, 99.50.
Third: Team Chaseburg, CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley, La Farge, Wisconsin, Organic Salted Butter, 99.40.

• Unsalted Butter
Best of Class: Al Bekkum, Nordic Creamery, Westby, Wisconsin, Cultured Butter, 98.85.
Second: West Point Dairy Products, West Point, Nebraska, European-Style unsalted butter, 98.65.
Third: Grassland Dairy Products, Greenwood, Wisconsin, Unsalted Butter, 98.45.

• Flavored Butter
Best of Class: Al Bekkum, Nordic Creamery, Westby, Wisconsin, Cinnamon/Sugar Butter, 98.85.
Second: Al Bekkum, Nordic Creamery, Westby, Wisconsin, Garlic and Basil Butter, 98.65.
Third: Butter Team, Vermont Creamery, Websterville, Vermont, Cultured Butter with Sea Salt & Maple, 98.45.

• Lowfat - Cow’s Milk Yogurt, Flavored
Best of Class: West Seneca Culture Division, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, New York, Lowfat Blended Yogurt - Vanilla Maple, 98.20.
Second: West Seneca Culture Division, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, New York, Blended Lowfat Yogurt - Coffee, 97.10.
Third: Dave Rapson, Country View Dairy, Hawkeye, Iowa, Vanilla Cream-Top Farmstead Yogurt, 96.70.

Yogurt - Cow’s Milk
Best of Class: Team Schreiber, CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley, La Farge, Wisconsin, Organic Plain Grassmilk Yogurt, 96.60.
Second: Narragansset Creamery, Providence, Rhode Island, Whole Milk Plain Yogurt, 96.45.
Third: Smith, Pure Eire Dairy, Othello, Washington, Organic Irish Homestead Plain Whole Milk Yogurt, 94.65.

• Yogurt - Cow’s Milk, Flavored
Best of Class: Smith, Pure Eire Dairy, Othello, Washington, Organic Irish Homestead Strawberry Whole Milk Yogurt, 96.75.
Second: North Country Dairy, Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., Buffalo, New York, Organic Whole Milk Yogurt - Vanilla, 96.35.
Third: Smith, Pure Eire Dairy, Othello, Washington, Organic Irish Homestead Vanilla Bean Whole Milk Yogurt, 95.75.

• High Protein - Cow’s Milk Yogurt
Best of Class: Westby Cooperative Creamery, Westby, Wisconsin, Smari Icelandic Yogurt Plain, 99.20.
Second: Adam Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin, Odyssey Greek Yogurt 10-percent, 99.15.
Third: Peter Marschall, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot, Vermont, Vermont Greek Yogurt 10-percent, 99.10.

• High Protein - Cow’s Milk Yogurt, Flavored
Best of Class: Ron Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin, Odyssey Greek Yogurt Vanilla, 99.85.
Second: Adam Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin, Odyssey Greek Yogurt Pomegranate Acai, 99.70.
Third: Adam Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin, Odyssey Greek Yogurt Raspberry, 99.55.

• Yogurt, All Other Milks
Best of Class: George Roehrig and Team LaClare, LaClare Farms, Malone, Wisconsin, LaClare Farms Goat Milk Yogurt - Vanilla, 99.80.
Second: George Roehrig and Team LaClare, LaClare Farms, Malone, Wisconsin, LaClare Farms Goat Milk Yogurt - Original, 99.55.
Third: George Roehrig and Team LaClare, LaClare Farms, Malone, Wisconsin, LaClare Farms Goat Milk Yogurt - Blueberry, 99.50.

• Drinkable Cultured Products - All Flavors/All Milks
Best of Class: Ludwig Dairy, Inc., Dixon, Illinois, Kefir - Plain, reduced fat milk, 99.90.
Second: Ludwig Dairy, Inc., Dixon, Illinois, Kefir - Strawberry, reduced fat milk, 99.80.
Third: Marquez Brothers International Inc., Hanford, California, Pina Colada Drinkable, 99.75.

• Open Class Shredded Cheese, Flavored & Unflavored
Best of Class: Team Schuman, Schuman Cheese, Fairfield, New Jersey, Cello Shredded Parmesan, 98.35.
Second: JCC-Team 4, Agropur, Jerome, Idaho, Sharp Cheddar Feather Cut Shred, 98.30.
Third: Team Appleton, Foremost Farms USA, Appleton, Wisconsin, Shredded Low-Moisture, Whole-Milk Mozzarella , 98.25.

• Open Class Shredded Cheese Blends, Flavored & Unflavored
Best of Class: Masters Gallery Foods Inc., Plymouth, Wisconsin, Gourmet Cheddar Blend, 99.60.
Second: Masters Gallery Foods Inc., Plymouth, Wisconsin, Cheddar, Gruyere & Asiago Blend, 99.25.
Third: Tillamook County Creamery, Tillamook, Oregon, Farmstyle Cheddar Jack Shreds, 98.60.

• Prepared Cheese Foods
Best of Class: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co. Inc., LaValle, Wisconsin, Garlic Bread Cheese, 99.65.
Second: Team Pasture Pride, Pasture Pride Cheese, Cashton, Wisconsin, Juustoleipa, 99.55.
Third: Anthony Mongiello, Formaggio Italian Cheese Specialities, Hurleyville, New York, Betta Brie, 99.50.

• Natural Snack Cheese
Best of Class: Crave Brothers Team, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC, Waterloo, Wisconsin, Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese Curds, 99.45.
Second: Jose Marin, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wisconsin, BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella Snacking Cheese, 99.00.
Third: Cut & Wrap Team, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot, Vermont, Vermont Sharp, 98.85.

• Natural Sliced Cheese
Best of Class: Slice Samurai, Great Lakes Cheese, Plymouth, Wisconsin, 8-ounce Havarti Shingle Slices, 98.60.
Second: Team Wapsie, Wapsie Valley Creamery, Independence, Iowa, Sliced Colby Jack, Vat 2 from 1-16-17, 98.10.
Third: Cut & Wrap Team, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot, Vermont, Cabot Sharp Sliced Cheddar, 98.05.

• Cheese Based Spreads
Best of Class: Anthony Mongiello, Formaggio Italian Cheese Specialities, Hurleyville, New York, 2-Cheese Stuffed Mozzarella, 98.70.
Second: Rising Sun Farms, Phoenix, Oregon, Pesto Dried Tomato Cheese Torta, 98.35.
Third: Martha Davis Kipcak, Mighty Fine Food, Milwaukee, Martha’s Pimento Cheese Mild, 98.20.

CMN


NMPF recommends changes to Margin Protection Program

March 10, 2017

ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) board of directors this week unanimously approved a series of recommended changes to the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for Dairy that it says will restore several key elements first proposed by NMPF during development of the 2014 Farm Bill. These changes to the MPP will ensure an effective safety net for the nation’s dairy farmers if the recommendations are adopted by Congress, NMPF says.

The recommendations range from changing the way dairy feed costs are calculated to providing farmers greater flexibility in signing up for coverage and using other risk management tools. The four-point plan was developed by NMPF’s Economic Policy Committee and reflects feedback from dairy producers, economists and members of Congress. It reflects several features originally proposed by NMPF that were subsequently weakened or eliminated as the 2014 Farm Bill was finalized.

“Improving the MPP to make it a more realistic, effective safety net is a key focus for our membership in 2017,” says Randy Mooney, NMPF chairman. “For dairy farmers to have confidence in the MPP, we need Congress to make these corrections as soon as possible.”

As the conversation about the 2018 Farm Bill begins to take shape on Capitol Hill, Mooney says NMPF is hoping for congressional action to implement its proposed changes at the earliest opportunity. Correcting the current program’s deficiencies “will require legislative changes,” he says.

The overall concept of a margin insurance program was developed by NMPF in response to the dairy financial crisis of 2009. MPP allows farmers to insure against low margins — the difference between milk prices and feed costs — with participants paying higher premiums for higher levels of coverage. Congress incorporated the margin insurance program into the 2014 Farm Bill but made several significant alterations that reduced the degree of financial protection farmers can obtain from MPP, NMPF says.

NMPF’s proposal includes a series of adjustments that will affect the way both feed prices (including corn, alfalfa and soybean meal) and milk prices are calculated. The most needed improvement is restoring the feed cost formula to the one originally developed by NMPF, the organization says.

NMPF notes that during Congress’s deliberations on the 2014 Farm Bill, it implemented a 10-percent cut to the weightings of all three feedstuff components of the MPP feed cost formula, based on an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. The resulting feed formula understates the price to farmers of producing 100 pounds of milk, thereby overstating the real margins farmers are experiencing, NMPF says.

“Just fixing the feed formula so it returns to its originally-proposed level would have a noticeable impact on the way margins are calculated,” Mooney says. “That’s the first step in improving the value of the MPP, although there are other changes that will also make a difference in the future.”

In addition to changing the overall feed formula, NMPF also recommends changing the data source for how USDA determines the individual monthly prices of corn, soybean meal and alfalfa hay, as well as how it measures the national average price farmers receive for milk.

Another element in need of change involves the accuracy and affordability of MPP premiums, NMPF says. NMPF is asking for an adjustment to premiums paid into the program for coverage above the basic $4 margin level. This is necessary to incentivize additional participation by farmers, the organizations says. In 2017, only 7 percent of farms enrolled in MPP have elected to purchase coverage above $4, and those farms represent only 2 percent of the milk supply.

“This is a significant drop in supplemental coverage since the program started in 2015 and undermines the viability of MPP as a national safety net option,” Mooney says. “MPP has become more expensive for producers than commercial risk management programs.”

Other recommendations include determining margins monthly, rather than bimonthly, and issuing payments on a more frequent basis when margins drop. NMPF also is suggesting to place the deadline for annual enrollment toward the end of the year prior to the calendar year for which producers want coverage.

Finally, NMPF recommends that the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) program be expanded and that producers be allowed to use both MPP and LGM simultaneously. Under current regulations, farmers who participate in the MPP cannot also utilize the LGM program for the remainder of the 2014 Farm Bill, which NMPF says creates a disadvantage for producers. The LGM should complement the risk management offered by MPP, and farmers should be allowed to utilize both tools, Mooney says.

NMPF will be sharing these recommendations with members of the Senate and House Agriculture committees and urging them to implement these improvements as soon as possible.

CMN


USDA increases forecast for Class III dairy prices

March 10, 2017

WASHINGTON — In its latest “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” report released Thursday, USDA increased its 2017 milk production forecast to 217.5 billion pounds as milk cow numbers are expected to increase more rapidly. However, growth in milk per cow forecasts is reduced on January data,USDA says. Last month, USDA forecast 2017 milk production at 217.4 billion pounds. 2016 milk production totaled 212.4 billion pounds.

The forecast for dairy exports on a fat-basis for 2017 is unchanged at 8.3 billion pounds, while the forecast for skim-solids basis exports is lowered to 39.8 billion pounds on expected strong competition in international skim milk powder markets. Both fat-basis and skim-solids basis imports forecasts are unchanged at 6.6 billion pounds and 6.2 billion pounds, respectively. Skim-solids basis ending stocks are forecast higher for 2017 on higher production of dairy products and weaker exports. The forecast for fat-basis ending stocks is unchanged.

The cheese price forecast for 2017 is reduced to $1.645-$1.705 per pound, down from $1.660-$1.730 in last month’s report, as stocks of cheese are high and are expected to pressure prices. The butter price forecast is raised to $2.120-$2.210, up from $2.045-$2.145, on continued demand strength.

USDA says the nonfat dry milk (NDM) price is forecast lower — down to $0.925-$0.975 — on expectations of slower export growth due to increased competition from global competitors. The whey price forecast is raised to $0.495-$0.525, reflecting recent market strength.

The 2017 Class III price forecast is raised to $16.60-$17.20 per hundredweight as the higher whey price more than outweighs the reduced cheese price, the report says. The Class IV price forecast is lowered to $14.85-$15.55, reflecting a weaker nonfat dry milk price which more than offsets a higher forecast butter price.

The 2017 all-milk price is forecast at $17.80-$18.40, up slightly from $17.70-$18.40 in last month’s report.

CMN


January’s dairy export volumes up from year ago

March 10, 2017

WASHINGTON — In January, U.S. exports of milk powders, cheese, butterfat, whey and lactose totaled 146,864 metric tons, up 11 percent from a year earlier, according to the latest data from USDA and U.S. Exports report from the U.S. Dairy Exports Council (USDEC). The overall value of U.S. dairy exports in January was $412 million, up 10 percent from the January 2016 value.

USDEC reports that January trade data confirms a slowdown in exports to Mexico. Shipments south of the border were valued at $93 million, down 2 percent from last January and the lowest since August 2015. Milk powder and cheese exports to Mexico were off, USDEC adds. Overall exports to Japan and South America also trailed year-ago levels, while sales increased to China, Canada and Southeast Asia.

U.S. cheese exports in January totaled 22,670 metric tons, up 3 percent from a year ago. Cheese shipments to Mexico totaled 5,435 metric tons, down 28 percent and the lowest volume since January 2013, USDEC reports. Cheese sales to Japan and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region also continued to lag, while exports to Australia and South Korea were stronger.

Official USDA data continues to show an increase in whole milk powder (WMP) exports to Mexico, which USDEC says it believes represents skim milk powder (SMP) sales that were misclassified at the port. Therefore, USDEC has adjusted nonfat dry milk (NDM)/SMP and WMP trade data to account for the misclassification.

With this adjustment, USDEC reports that January exports of NDM/SMP totaled 48,324 metric tons, up 13 percent from last January, with increased sales to Southeast Asia and Pakistan. However, shipments to Mexico fell to 19,587 metric tons, down 2 percent and the lowest figure since last March.

Whey exports remained strong in January, USDEC says. Total whey shipments were 41,220 tons, up 24 percent from last January. Nearly half of January’s whey sales went to China, which bought almost twice as much as a year ago, USDEC reports.

CMN


Trump releases trade policy
agenda, addresses Congress

March 3, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration this week released its National Trade Policy Agenda for 2017. The agenda focuses on key objectives including ensuring opportunity for U.S. workers and businesses domestically and abroad, breaking down trade barriers and maintaining policy that looks out for interests of all segments of the U.S. economy, among others.

The trade policy agenda normally is prepared under the direction of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). U.S. law provides that the USTR shall have “primary responsibility for developing” U.S. international trade policy and shall “act as the principal spokesman of the president on international trade.” Since Trump’s pick for USTR, Robert Lighthizer, has not yet been confirmed, the administration notes it plans to submit a more detailed report on the president’s trade policy after confirmation. However, in order to comply with the agenda’s statutory deadline of March 1, the administration submitted an initial agenda this week.

Trump says the overarching purpose of his trade policy will be to expand trade in a way that is “freer and fairer for all Americans.”

“Every action we take with respect to trade will be designed to increase our economic growth, promote job creation in the United States, promote reciprocity with our trading partners, strengthen our manufacturing base and our ability to defend ourselves, and expand our agricultural and services industry exports,” the agenda says.

The administration plans to focus on the following key objectives:

• Ensuring that U.S. workers and businesses have a fair opportunity to compete for business — both in the domestic U.S. market and in other key markets around the world.

• Breaking down unfair trade barriers in other markets that block U.S. exports, including exports of agricultural goods.

• Maintaining a balanced policy that looks out for the interests of all segments of the U.S. economy, including manufacturing, agriculture and services as well as small businesses and entrepreneurs.

• Ensuring that U.S. owners of intellectual property (IP) have a full and fair opportunity to use and profit from their IP.

• Strictly enforce U.S. trade laws to prevent the U.S. market from being distorted by dumped and/or subsidized imports that harm domestic industries and workers.

• Enforcing labor provisions in existing agreements and enforcing the prohibition against the importation and sale of goods made with forced labor.

• Resisting efforts by other countries — or members of international bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO) — to advance interpretations that would weaken the rights and benefits of, or increase the obligations under, the various trade agreements to which the United States is a party.

• Updating current trade agreements as necessary to reflect changing times and market conditions.

• Ensuring that U.S. trade policy contributes to the economic strength and manufacturing base necessary to maintain, and improve, national security.

• Strongly advocating for all U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, services providers and businesses large and small to assure the fairest possible treatment of American interests in the U.S. markets and worldwide.

To achieve these objectives, the Trump administration has identified four major priorities: defend U.S. national sovereignty over trade policy; strictly enforce U.S. trade laws; use all possible sources of leverage to encourage other countries to open their markets to U.S. exports and provide adequate and effective protection and enforcement of U.S. IP rights; and negotiate new and better trade deals with countries in key global markets.

The Trump administration says it already has begun making progress on these objectives and priorities.

“By withdrawing from the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), the president sent a clear signal that the United States would take a new approach to trade issues and paved the way for potential bilateral talks with the remaining TPP countries,” the agenda says. “The president has begun his consultations with Congress on the ways in which future trade agreements can work for all Americans more effectively than they have in the past.”

Meanwhile, Trump this week addressed a joint session of Congress, offering a blueprint of his vision for the future of the United States. While the president touched on immigration and trade issues, he largely failed to mention specifics for the agricultural sector, stakeholders say.

“President Trump’s agenda must begin to consider and prioritize the economic well-being of rural and farming communities,” says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union. “In tonight’s speech, the president failed to mention the words ‘rural,’ ‘farm’ or ‘agriculture,’ yet touched on a myriad of policy issues that could have major impacts on family farmers, ranchers and rural communities.”

For example, Rogers says Trump’s plan to switch away from what he called the “current system of lower-skilled immigration” neglects the unique and important work that immigrant laborers provide for the nation’s food system and rural economies. (For more on immigration concerns, see “Ag sector uncertain following Trump actions on immigration” in last week’s issue.)

“If the president intends to be a champion for all Americans, he must consider the real and lasting impacts his policy agenda will have on rural America and family farmers and ranchers,” Johnson says.

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., agrees, saying that while she agreed with the president’s call for the country to unite and work together, he did not talk about rural America.

“There wasn’t a mention of rural America, a farm bill or agriculture workers, and these should be focuses for any leader of our country,” Heitkamp says.

Dairy and ag stakeholders this week expressed appreciation for Trump actions and announcements rolling back certain regulations.

Trump on Tuesday announced a decision to roll back a Water of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulation finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps. of Engineers in 2015. The measure was subsequently blocked by a federal appeals court, which has suspended nationwide implementation of the regulation. This week’s decision directs EPA to revise or rescind the rule that expanded the number of waterways that are regulated under the Clean Water Act.

“President Donald Trump’s decision today to roll back the controversial Waters of the U.S. regulation is a welcome development for the nation’s dairy farmers, who have been concerned by the continuing lack of clarity and certainty generated by this policy,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “Today’s action signals that the Trump administration recognizes we need to go back and rethink the entire process that led us to this point.”

He adds that NMPF and its members are committed to protecting U.S. waterways through voluntary efforts as well as through regulatory compliance with the Clean Water Act.

“Clean water is central to healthy ecosystems, secure water supplies for human and animal consumption and to the production of milk and other dairy products,” Mulhern says. “The dairy industry will continue working with EPA and Army Corps. of Engineers to find effective ways to achieve these important goals.”

In other regulatory news, Trump last week signed an executive order that instructs each federal agency to create a task force to evaluate existing regulations and identify ones that could or should be repealed, replaced or revised. The order directs the head of each agency to appoint a regulatory reform officer who will be tasked with helping to alleviate “unnecessary regulatory burdens” placed on the American people.

Each task force will identify regulations that eliminate jobs or inhibit job creation; are outdated, unnecessary or ineffective; impose costs that exceed benefits; create inconsistency or interfere with regulatory reform efforts; are based on data, information or methods that are neither publicly available nor reproducible; and originated from previous executive orders that have been rescinded or substantially modified.

The National Restaurant Association praises the order.

“The restaurant industry, the second-largest private sector employer in the country, has been hampered by burdensome regulations and government overreach that make it hard for restaurants to create jobs and expand,” says Shannon Meade, director of labor and workforce policy for the association. “We believe the president’s new regulatory reform task forces will be a great step in curbing overregulation.”

Meanwhile, while Lighthizer as well as Trump’s pick for agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, await confirmation, earlier this week the Senate voted to confirm former investor Wilbur Ross as the next secretary of commerce.

According to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), which supports Ross’s confirmation, Ross is expected to take the lead on Trump’s trade agenda, including a potential renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He also will oversee trade enforcement provisions, such as imposing antidumping and countervailing duties and the U.S.-Mexico suspension of agreements for sugar imports.

IDFA says it remains committed to working with Ross and the Trump administration to ensure open and fair market access for U.S. dairy products within NAFTA and around the world.

CMN


Global politics, local economy
shape Russia’s dairy trends

March 3, 2017

Editor’s note: Passport to Cheese is Cheese Market News’ feature series exploring the dairy industries of nations around the world. Each month this series takes an in-depth look at various nations/regions’ dairy industries with coverage of their milk and cheese statistics and key issues affecting them. The nations’ interplay with the United States also is explored. We are pleased to introduce our latest country — Russia.

By Rena Archwamety

MADISON, Wis. — The United States has not had a dairy trade relationship with Russia since 2010, but more recent political events have further insulated Russia’s dairy industry from other parts of the world as well. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 prompted trade sanctions from the United States, the European Union (EU) and other countries, which in turn prompted counter-sanctions that barred a number of imports from these countries — including cheese and dairy imports — into Russia.

The sanctions had little direct impact on U.S. dairy, as a disagreement over product certification has prevented the United States from exporting significant quantities of dairy to Russia since 2010. However, it did greatly impact trade with the EU, which has changed global market dynamics as EU exporters now compete in other markets to make up for lost business in Russia. The U.S. Dairy Export Council notes that prior to the embargo, Russia was the EU’s largest dairy export market, taking about a third of its cheese exports and a quarter of its butterfat shipments.

In 2013, Russia imported 466,000 metric tons of cheese and curd — nearly half its cheese consumption — according to data from the Federal Customs Service of Russia and Belstat reported by USDA. This plummeted to 349,000 metric tons in 2014 and 216,000 metric tons in 2015, as cheese from the EU, which previously comprised half of Russia’s imports, disappeared.

Meanwhile in Russia, existing and entrepreneurial cheese and dairy producers have an opportunity to fill the gap in supply left by the embargo. However, growth has been limited due to decreased consumer spending power and a shortage of quality dairy supplies.

• Dairy production

In 2016, Russia had 7.55 million milk cows producing a little more than 30 million metric tons of milk, according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). These numbers have been gradually decreasing, as commercial dairies increase milk production while “backyard farms” continue to decrease output.

In its “Dairy and Products Annual” report on the Russian Federation, published in October 2016, USDA notes that Russia’s dairy sector has struggled for decades with insufficient financing for modernization.

“Investments in Russian milk production sector have been considered risky, with volatile milk prices, margins trending downward, a long payback period on investments, a history of inconsistent implementation of state dairy programs, the increased use of vegetable oil substitutes by processors, dependence on highly consolidated retail chains, and declining demographics and lack of skilled work force in rural areas,” USDA says. “Further, during the economic crisis of 2015-2016, low consumer demand for high-margin dairy products depressed milk prices and producers’ margins, which will result in further declines in cow inventories in 2017.”

About half of Russia’s total milk herd is at household farms, and dairy farming is perhaps the least industrialized sector in Russian agriculture, USDA adds.

FAS/Moscow forecasts cheese and curd production in 2017 to be 840,000 metric tons, down slightly from 2016 estimates.

“Multiple trends from the current market will likely remain in 2017, including weak, consumer demand for premium high-margin cheese and strong competition from non-banned exports in the market,” USDA’s report notes. “Additionally, higher prices on quality raw milk suitable for cheese production are expected to constrain growth of cheese sector.”

FAS/Moscow anticipates 1.060 million metric tons of domestic cheese and curd consumption in Russia in 2017, or approximately 7.45 kilograms (16.4 pounds) per capita — unchanged from 2016.

• Cheese trends

Last month, Russia’s National Union of Milk Producers Souzmoloko organized the first meeting of a national cheesemaker’s club. Speakers at the meeting discussed challenges with milk procurement and state support for the cheesemaking industry, consumer preferences for cheese, problems with cheese smuggling, the potential for goat’s milk cheese in Russia, and other trends and challenges in the market. The event concluded with a cheese and wine tasting.

As domestic cheese manufacturers have become more accustomed to the new economic conditions, and Belarus became the major cheese exporter to Russia, the dairy market situation started to stabilize this last year, according to Euromonitor International.

“In general, the geographic origin of cheese is perceived by Russian consumers as an important factor,” Euromonitor notes in its September 2016 “Cheese In Russia” report. “Cheese manufactured within nearby regions is treated as more fresh and natural; however, at a time of economic slowdown, price became a more significant factor. Thus, consumers looked for products with more value for the price. Under such conditions, Belorussian cheese achieved a strong reputation among Russian consumers, as such products are normally rather low in price and of a decent quality.”

Domestic cheesemakers also began to take advantage of the lack of foreign competition in the cheese sector.

In response to empty shelves after the embargo, numerous new local brands emerged in 2015, USDA reports. However, consumers were not satisfied with the quality of many of these new products. The situation became favorable for the expansion of well-known, locally-produced brands and private labels, which have been able to fill in the market niche.

“Despite stabilization of cheese supplies in the medium and economy market segments, there is no adequate replacement of premium imported cheeses,” USDA reports. “Local producers were not able to fill in the segment of premium cheeses, and consumers continue to prefer less expensive grocery items within product groups.”

As a result, native mid-priced cheese varieties such as Rossiysky, similar to German Tilsiter; Gollandsky, a Russian interpretation of Dutch Edam with a slightly spicy, sour taste; Poshekhonsky, an aged rennet cheese developed about 50 years ago in the Poshehonsky province; and Adygeisky, a cheese widely used in cooking, remain increasingly popular hard and semi-hard cheeses. Rossiysky is the most popular cheese variety, with more than 60-percent share of total consumption, USDA reports. Meanwhile, purchases of Gouda and Maasdam continue to decline because consumers have not adjusted to the new local taste of cheeses that had been mostly supplied by imports prior to the embargo.

Euromonitor reports that soft cheese posted the strongest current value growth — 7 percent — across all cheese categories in Russia in 2016. Traditionally an import-dependent category, this area was left unoccupied after the embargo, resulting in stronger activity from domestic manufacturers. Euromonitor adds that Hochland Russland, which is present in processed cheese with its Hochland brand, led cheese in Russia in 2016.

Unpackaged cheese accounted for a 72-percent volume share of unprocessed cheese in Russia in 2016, Euromonitor says. However, over the course of the review period, the volume share of unpackaged cheese steadily declined due to the development of modern retailing and the overall increasing importance of convenience in Russia.

Euromonitor reports that stabilizing economic conditions and stronger competition from smaller local manufacturers and private label limited price growth of cheese in Russia in 2016.

“Another reason for restrained price growth was a decline in the average quality of cheese products, as manufacturers tried to cut costs,” Euromonitor says. “Increasing use of vegetable fat instead of animal fat was seen as a major concern in relation to the quality of cheese products in 2016.”

USDA notes that according to multiple media publications, milk producers have complained about the pervasive problem of illegal palm-oil use in cheese production. If authorities detect that a dairy processor uses palm oil in violation of technical and labeling regulations, the processor is most likely charged a fine, but these fines are small and typically don’t motivate processors to stop the illegal practices.

Locally-produced, well-recognized brands have begun to capture greater shares of the current cheese market, USDA reports. According to Souzmoloko, there are approximately 600 large- and medium-sized cheese plants in Russia, and the top 40 producers now account for approximately 30-40 percent of the market. Trade restrictions have forced producers of popular international brands to localize or expand existing production operations in Russia. For example, Pepsico recently increased production of its cheese brand Lamber by 40 percent to 24,000 metric tons at its plant in Altayskiy Krai. Valio (based in Finland) increased production of its processed cheese Viola from 4,000 to 10,000 metric tons at its plant in the Moscow region and launched production of Valio tvorog (similar to quark or cottage cheese) at the facilities of its German partner company Ehrmann in the Moscow region in 2015. Arla Foods, in partnership with Russian company Molvest, invested in 7,400 metric tons of capacity for its branded yellow cheese and a new production line for Arla’s processed cream cheese with a capacity of 9,000 metric tons was opened in November 2015.

• Other dairy

Danone is Russia’s leading producer of traditional dairy, including tvorog, and of overall dairy products in the country. The France-based company first entered Russia in 1992 and was one of the first foreign companies to invest in the Russian economy at a time of democratic transition and high volatility. In 2000, Danone opened its largest plant in the world in Checkhov, Russia, where production capacity is more than 290,000 metric tons a year. In 2010, Danone acquired Russian dairy giant Unimilk. Throughout Russia, Danone operates 20 plants and employs approximately 11,000 people.

Danone has worked with the dairy industry in Russia to help create the “Milk Business Academy” project to increase Russian farmers’ long-term productivity and ensure a high quality milk supply. An educational center operates a 100-cow demo farm and provides on-site training. Sustainable practices are promoted in areas such as animal welfare, feed systems, breeding, milk quality and good milking practices.

Euromonitor reports that fluid milk products in Russia were more affected by the economic downturn rather than the imports embargo, as the category is comprised mostly of domestically-produced products. The economic downturn also affected other dairy segments, such as yogurt, powdered milk and condensed milk, which were considered non-essential.

Danone was the category leader in all non-cheese dairy in 2016, Euromonitor reports, holding 25-percent value share of drinking milk products, 19-percent value share in yogurt and sour milk products, and a 21-percent value share of other dairy, which includes chilled snacks, condensed milk, cream, fromage frais and quark.

“Danone Russia Group of Cos. has a strong reputation in Russia due to its high-quality products, a presence across many categories in dairy products and a long-standing presence in Russia,” Euromonitor says. “Its localized facilities allow the manufacturer to limit price growth and run continuous advertising campaigns to attract more and more consumers.”

CMN


U.S. cheese production up
3.7 percent from year ago

March 3, 2017

WASHINGTON — Total U.S. cheese production, excluding cottage cheese, was 1.04 billion pounds in January 2017, up 3.7 percent from January 2016’s 1.00 billion pounds, according to preliminary data released Thursday by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Dairy Production chart.)

January cheese production was down 1.2 percent from December 2016’s 1.05 billion pounds.

Production of Mozzarella, the nation’s most-produced cheese, totaled 352.2 million pounds in January, up 4.5 from January 2016. Total Italian-type production, of which Mozzarella is the largest component, was 451.9 million pounds in January, a 3.8-percent increase from January 2016.

Meanwhile, Cheddar production rose 3.5 percent in the January-to-January comparison, climbing to 306.8 million pounds in January 2017. Total American-type cheese production, of which Cheddar is the largest component, was 412.9 million pounds in January, up 3.0 percent from a year earlier.

Wisconsin led the nation’s cheese production with 268.2 million pounds in January, a 1.9-percent increase from its production a year earlier. California followed with 211.0 million pounds, up 2.5 percent from its production a year earlier. Idaho ranked No. 3 in January cheese production with 82.4 million pounds, up 2.9 percent from its production a year earlier.

The next three cheese-producing states in January were New York with 77.1 million pounds, up 11.6 percent from its production a year earlier; New Mexico with 67.4 million pounds, up 3.2 percent; and Minnesota with 57.2 million pounds, down 0.4 percent.

NASS reports total U.S. butter production in January 2017 was 177.8 million pounds, up 1.2 percent from January 2016’s 175.7 million pounds. January butter production was 8.5 percent higher than December 2016’s 163.8 million pounds.

California led the nation’s butter production with 51.6 million pounds in January, down 2.3 percent from its production a year earlier, according to NASS.

CMN


Tetra Pak acquires Johnson
Industries International

March 3, 2017

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Tetra Pak has acquired Johnson Industries International, a company specializing in the design, development and manufacture of equipment and lines for Mozzarella production. Johnson Industries also manufactures a range of cheese cutting, shredding and brining equipment.

These additions broaden Tetra Pak’s wide-ranging cheese technology portfolio and strengthen its position as a leading global provider of cheese manufacturing solutions, company officials say.

Based in Windsor, Wisconsin, Johnson Industries International is one of North America’s principal suppliers to the high-quality, high-volume segment of Mozzarella manufacturing.

“The acquisition of Johnson Industries International adds essential know-how and technology in a sector of the cheese market that is growing ever-more important to our business,” says Monica Gimre, executive vice president, processing systems, Tetra Pak. “Many of our customers are expanding production in this category. Thanks to this acquisition, we can now ensure they have access to a complete equipment and services solution, helping minimize the complexity of plant management.”

Grant Nesheim, president, Johnson Industries International, adds that the transaction means Johnson Industries’ innovations will be supported by the global resources and leading expertise of Tetra Pak.

“This will benefit our customers in the long run as they continue to receive our market-leading products and services supported by Tetra Pak’s global organization,” Nesheim says. “In recent years we have been expanding our business to other parts of the world, and we now see an exciting opportunity for further international growth through Tetra Pak channels.”

Johnson Industries International will remain in its current location and will continue to focus on its core business, he adds.

CMN


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
March 23, 2017


Barrels: $1.4100 (NC)
Blocks: $1.4400 (-1)


Click here for more market activity
Cheese Production
U.S. Total Jan.
1,040.010 mil. lbs.


Milk Production
U.S. Total Jan.
18.127 bil. lbs.

Guest Columnist

Cooperate, collaborate, communicate: The three Cs for dairy growth

Tom Vilsack, U.S. Dairy Export Council

Notes from the Bearish Underground

Dave Kurzawski, FCStone

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