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Talks continue at U.S. ports as lawmakers seek more relief

July 1, 2022

WASHINGTON — A labor contract for 22,000 U.S. West Coast dockworkers is on the verge of expiring, opening the door to strikes, lockouts or work stoppages — but both sides still appear willing to avoid such disruptions amid the busiest season of the year for shipping, news reports say.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the more than 70 employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) started negotiating a new contract in May for longshoremen across 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington. While the current agreement ends today, the groups say they’re unlikely to reach a deal, according to news reports. However, reports also say ILWU has ruled out strike action, saying it intends to keep workers on the job indefinitely, even without a contract.

“This timing is typical, and cargo operations continue beyond the expiration of the contract,” says a joint statement from ILWU and PMA. “Neither party is preparing for a strike or a lockout, contrary to speculation in news reports. The parties remain focused on and committed to reaching an agreement.”

As talks continue, this week U.S. Reps. John Garamendi, D-Calif., and Jim Costa, D-Calif., introduced the “American Port Access Privileges Act” to put U.S. exporters at the front of the line at U.S. ports and support the American economy. The legislation follows up on the congressmen’s bipartisan, bicameral Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, which was signed into law by President Biden on June 16.

“Foreign exporters’ access to the American market and our consumers is a privilege, not a right. Cargo ships looking to offload foreign-made products and profit off West Coast ports must provide opportunities for American exports in return,” Garamendi says. “Congressman Costa’s and my legislation would put American exports at the front of the line at our ports to support American businesses and workers. Congress must restore fairness at our ports for American exporters to help reduce the United States’ longstanding trade imbalance with countries like China.”

Costa adds supply chain disruptions are hurting California farmers and exporters like never before.
“We need to remove bottlenecks and mitigate congestion at our ports to carry out American exports,” Costa says.
The American Port Access Privileges Act would ensure fair trade for U.S. businesses and keep hard-won foreign markets accessible by:

• Codifying the current preferences for military, Jones Act and other U.S.-flagged vessels in place at many major American ports.

• Establishing a secondary berthing preference for ocean-going commercial vessels servicing multiple ports in the United States or with significant cargo bookings of American exports. This new preferential berthing will reward ocean carriers that serve both importers and American exporters by moving those vessels to the front of the queue for unloading and loading. It will similarly incentivize ocean carriers to make second-leg voyages to U.S. ports.

• Ensuring that the new preferential berthing for export-carrying vessels would never interfere with U.S. Coast Guard orders for commercial vessels, port safety or collective bargaining agreements for port workers.

• Requiring that export-carrying vessels seeking preferential berthing report cargo bookings at least seven days in advance to port operators.

• Authorizing the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics to collect data on berthing and cargo practices at U.S. ports. This will evaluate ocean carriers’ practices for port calls and cargo bookings, as well as the impact of preferential berthing afforded under the bill.

The legislation is endorsed by the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), National Milk Producers Federation and the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Meanwhile, the Consumers Brands Association (CBA) recently released new research showing that Americans have shifted their blame for grocery inflation away from the pandemic, concentrating more frustration on supply chain costs and constraints. The CBA/Ipsos poll also showed that a majority of Americans say inflation is hitting their household budgets and that tackling supply chain problems will positively affect inflation.

The poll of 1,000 American adults was conducted June 17-20 and found 72% of respondents said that increased grocery prices were having a very significant (34%) or somewhat significant (38%) impact on their household budgets. Only 22% said it was having a not very significant impact, and just 6% said it was having no impact.

The frustration with higher prices has led to a notable shift in American attitudes about what is to blame for grocery inflation, CBA says. The pandemic fell from the top spot as the most responsible for grocery inflation, dropping more than 10 percentage points from February to June. Most of that decline was picked up by supply chain costs and constraints, which jumped by six percentage points.

The increase in supply chain costs and constraints as a source of blame for inflation coincides with an uptick in the interest of tackling supply chain problems as a means to ease inflation. Half of Americans (50%) said that tackling the supply chain would help ease inflation, up three percentage points from when the question was first asked in December 2021. While many admitted to being unsure (23%), only 16% said it would have no impact and just 11% said it would have a negative impact, down four points from December.

As the supply chain struggles to catch up with pandemic shutdowns and slowdowns, extreme weather, war in Ukraine and other geopolitical issues, supply chain challenges have driven sharp increases in wholesale costs.

Approximately 70% of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry’s costs come from wholesale inputs — ingredients, materials and energy. The Producer Price Index (PPI) has been at or near record highs for 15 months straight, with key commodities for the CPG industry like wheat, diesel, aluminum and more rising sharply above average PPI, CBA notes.

CBA has called for supply chain solutions throughout the pandemic as a means of ensuring continued access and mitigating cost concerns. From the onset of the pandemic and at various times since, the organization has requested labeling flexibility to allow companies to make reasonable substitutions when supplies run short so they can continue manufacturing essential products for consumers. CBA also consistently has called for options to create greater visibility into the supply chain, such as advocating for the inclusion of the Critical Supply Chain Resiliency Program and other key supply chain provisions in USICA-COMPETES as the legislation goes through final negotiations.

“Before the pandemic, most Americans knew little to nothing about the supply chain. Now, they have seen its challenges front and center. They know that solving those challenges makes a difference in their daily lives and they expect action from their political leaders,” says Katie Denis, vice president of communications and research, CBA.


U.S., G7 issue new sanctions on Russia to support Ukraine

July 1, 2022

WASHINGTON — President Biden this week met with G7 leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to reaffirm support of Ukraine and build on sanctions to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for his invasion of Ukraine.

The G7 — which in addition to the United States includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom — issued a statement of support for Ukraine, which included significant new sanctions commitments to further intensify economic measures against Russia. Products and categories covered by this week’s announcement include: steel and aluminum; minerals, ores and metals; chemicals; arms and ammunition; wood and paper products; aircraft and parts; and automotive parts.

The White House notes that in the span of a few months, U.S. exports to Russia have decreased approximately 97%, and Russia’s imports of goods from around the world could fall by 40%. Russia’s GDP likely will decline by double digits, inflation is rising to more than 20%, Russia is struggling to make bond payments and Russia has defaulted on its sovereign debt for the first time in more than a century, the White House adds.

Moving forward, the United States, in coordination with the G7, will implement significant commitments, including sanctions on hundreds of individuals and entities in addition to the more than 1,000 already sanctioned; take action on evasion by targeting companies in several countries that adds to more than 300 Entity Listings already in place; and impose tariffs on hundreds of Russian products worth billions of dollars to Russia, among other things.

Earlier this year, G7 leaders committed to strip Russia of “most favored nation” trading status, which guaranteed low tariff rates for Russian goods sold globally. Biden and other G7 leaders will seek authority to use revenues collected by new tariffs on Russian goods to help Ukraine and to ensure that Russia pays for the costs of its war.

Biden also has announced that, pursuant to Congress’s revocation of Russia’s trade status in the United States, the United States will implement a higher tariff rate on more than 570 groups of Russian products worth approximately $2.3 billion to Russia. These measures will restrict Russia’s ability to benefit economically from sales to the U.S. market and are carefully calibrated to impose costs on Russia while minimizing costs to U.S. consumers, the administration says.

“We look forward to working with Congress to enact legislation that will allow the proceeds of the tariffs we are raising today to be used to help Ukraine. This will send an important message to Russia that it will have to pay for the costs of its war,” says U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

“Together with your G7 partners, we are reaffirming our commitment to holding Russia accountable for its actions,” she adds. “We will work with our partners and allies to ensure Russia does not benefit from the multilateral trading system while it continues this unjustified war.”


WCMA to launch customized resources to assist dairy exporters

July 1, 2022

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) this week announced the launch of customized resources to provide direct consultations to Wisconsin dairy manufacturers and processors looking to expand their sales abroad. WCMA’s programming is supported by a $50,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection through the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports (WIAE).

“Wisconsin cheesemakers are known for the quality and safety of their products and are well-positioned to grow those sales worldwide. We’re excited to offer new, tailored services to help them kick-start their exporting endeavors,” says WCMA Executive Director John Umhoefer. “We know that as dairy processors connect with customers overseas, they’ll help to ensure the long-term stability of the dairy supply chain here at home.”

WCMA’s program will offer personalized consultative services to support Wisconsin dairy businesses as they identify global customers, create an export plan, navigate the logistics of exporting and refine their business model.

The effort begins with an export workshop, planned for later this year, providing an educational grounding for Wisconsin dairy processors interested in exporting their products. WCMA also will create an online library of export resources, including template forms, guidance documents and a database of contacts.

The WIAE allocated $5 million to boost the export of dairy, meat and other agricultural products by 25% in the next five years. The initiative was created when Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed legislation authored by state Sen. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, and state Rep. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonowec.


Vermont Creamery seeks innovations in products, sustainability as it grows

WEBSTERVILLE, Vt. — Vermont Creamery, which was among the first U.S. cheesemakers to introduce goat’s milk cheeses in the early ’80s, continues to bring fresh, innovative flavors and products to more consumers than ever.

Its latest Chevre flavor innovation, Strawberry Spritz, marries fresh strawberries with sweet honey and crisp champagne-inspired flavors for an indulgent treat designed with dessert applications in mind. Strawberry Spritz was launched just before Mother’s Day, initially as a Murray’s Cheese exclusive, and now is expanding distribution to other retailers across the country.

“We usually serve it on a shortbread cookie with a strawberry on top — it’s literally like a bite of cheesecake,” says Adeline Druart, president of Vermont Creamery. “It’s nice to try it in a different setting, taking goat cheese outside of the typical moments of consumption. We’ve received really nice feedback from consumers.”

As Chevre has gained a wider following and consumers have started using it increasingly on cheese boards, in salads or as a pizza topping, Vermont Creamery started looking at what’s next for goat cheese. That’s how the idea of a new line of dessert cheeses was born.

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Analysts say volatility seen in dairy market is ‘here to stay’

June 24, 2022

By Alyssa Mitchell

CHICAGO — The unprecedented market volatility of the past few years shows few signs of improving in the near future as the world grapples with labor and supply chain challenges, inflation and the ongoing Russia/Ukraine conflict that continues to exacerbate feed shortages.

Dairy market analysts discussed these issues and their future outlook at this week’s Dairy Outlook Conference in Chicago, hosted by HighGround Dairy.

In a session on the U.S. and global dairy market outlook, HighGround analysts Lucas Fuess, director of dairy market intelligence, and Alyssa Badger, director of global operations and insights, provided an overview of the current challenges facing U.S. and global dairy markets as well as HighGround’s price forecasts for the months ahead.

Fuess notes that earlier this year, commodity prices soared in an inflationary environment. Higher prices were supported by tighter supplies and firm demand both domestically and abroad.

Then more extreme headwinds emerged, he says. The Russia/Ukraine conflict has impacted food supplies across the globe, inflation has worsened and stakeholders continue to grapple with supply chain challenges.

He adds the VIX (Chicago Board Options Exchange’s CBOE Volatility Index) has more than doubled in the past year to rise above 30.

“Investors assume volatility is here to stay, with the expectation for the index at the end of 2022 to remain near 30, much higher than the long-term trend,” Fuess says.

“Policymakers will struggle to rein in surging inflation without sending the economy into a deep recession,” he adds.

These factors in many cases lean bearish for dairy prices but ultimately will spur market volatility as continued tight milk supplies keep prices elevated, Fuess says.

Several significant occurrences have happened this month alone, Fuess notes:

• The S&P 500 fell more than 20% since the beginning of the year.

• Following weaker sales, major retailers such as Target, Walmart and others cautioned about weaker profitability as they prepare to steeply discount excess unsold inventory in the coming months.

• The Federal Reserve plans to hike interest rates at the steepest pace since 1994, following a half-point increase in May.

• Retail sales dropped 0.3% in May as inflation negatively impacts consumer spending.

• The U.S. dollar hit a two-decade high, driven by fears of a global economic slowdown and assumptions about further U.S. Fed interest rate hikes.

Fuess notes a strong dollar makes dairy purchases more expensive for global importers.

Meanwhile, U.S. milk output continues to lag, slightly weaker than HighGround expectations in April and May, he says, noting a lack of herd size growth into the second quarter means cow number gaps have increased versus the prior year

He adds while milk production could return to growth of 1% to 1.5% later this year, it still lags behind the 2% growth seen in past years — not enough to push markets into an oversupply situation.

“On a global basis, milk in all key regions has been weaker for several months, keeping values supported,” Fuess says.

• Commodity price forecast

With extraordinarily high feed costs, even with milk prices at multiyear highs, U.S. dairy farmer profitability has not increased, Fuess says.

Feed, labor, energy and other costs all have climbed, putting breakeven at $22 per hundredweight or higher.
“Farmers are not getting a firm price signal to expand output,” he says.

Still, in recent months, many cheese and dairy processors have announced plans to expand capacity, with many project completion dates slated for 2023/24.

Spot cheese values at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) in recent weeks have been elevated.

“Robust foodservice needs have supported the cheese market this year, with export orders at record levels,” Fuess says. “Lower Cheddar production has been offset by additional Italian-style and other style output.”

The spot cheese market has corrected lower in the past week as buyers and sellers search for equilibrium, he adds. However, while spot cheese fell 14 cents last week, CME futures markets still show premium prices, and HighGround’s forecast shows cheese above $2 per pound through November.

Butter has been one of the more stable markets, Fuess notes.

“Weak production, low stocks and heavy demand have caused the price to surge this year,” he says. “There is little price downside expected; it is possible there will not be enough product to meet needs.”

He adds that the record high CME spot market price for butter is $3.1350, with strong potential for a new high this year,

Meanwhile, the nonfat dry milk market is “one to watch” — both domestically and globally, Fuess says.

“Significant downside is not expected in the immediate term, with values underpinned on still tighter availability,” he says, noting market analysts are closely watching the China economic lockdown situation for signs of improving demand.

Whey also has been impacted by lower Chinese demand, which pulled values steadily lower from a record high earlier this year.

“Support materialized at $0.50 per pound, but slightly bearish signals have emerged,” Fuess says. “Higher output and firming stocks could tip that market slightly lower in the coming months.”

• Global outlook

U.S. dairy exports — regardless of logistical challenges, higher shipping costs, port congestion and other struggles — have been able to maintain pace versus last year’s record volume, Fuess says, noting global demand for U.S. products is helped by competitive U.S. prices compared to international counterparts.

Taking a closer look at the global picture, Badger notes Europe is facing its third summer of drought concerns, and the Russia/Ukraine crisis is propelling input cost concerns.

Jukka Likitalo, secretary general at Eucolait, provided some additional insights into the European market.
He notes the global market is in a new era where traditional supply and demand factors increasingly are replaced by the effects of climate shocks, the pandemic, geopolitics, conflicts, regulations and rapidly evolving consumer preferences.

In Europe, high milk prices no longer mean increased production, which is constrained by soaring input costs, lack of generational renewal, environmental constraints, extreme weather events and overall policy direction, he says.
“Sufficient availability of milk is no longer a given,” he says, noting however there are some regional differences within the European Union (EU).

“Reduced milk production in the EU and a slowdown of exports seems like a likely scenario,” he adds, noting the United States has had an opportunity to gain some export market share.

Looking at other key exporting regions, Badger notes there have been almost eight consecutive months of negative milk production in key regions, without many signs it will change anytime soon.

Australia is grappling with increased farm property prices and shrinking milk herds, as well as labor shortages, she notes.

“Dairy farmers in the region are choosing to retire earlier amid concerns about input costs and labor,” she says.
Labor costs also are an issue in New Zealand, Badger notes.

However, Argentina is showing milk production gains the past two years, which has helped fulfill global demand for whole milk powder, but margin pressure there is starting to worsen, with inputs less accessible, Badger says.

“A lack of milk supply from key export markets is coinciding with growing demand from developing countries — how will we fulfill this demand?” she asks.

While imports from China have slowed, demand from Southeast Asia has somewhat offset this slowdown, Badger notes.

“Approximately 70% of the world’s malnourished children are in Asia, which has impacted product development to that segment,” she says, noting 74% of Indonesia’s milk is imported but is mostly shelf stable and geared toward younger consumers.

Demand is expected to continue in that region due to positive perceptions of milk and protein and a lack of refrigerated warehouse space.

Badger notes that in general, it’s challenging to make decisions in this environment without a historical measure for current times.


Dairy products contest winners named at Wisconsin State Fair

June 24, 2022

WEST ALLIS, Wis. — Dairy manufacturers from across Wisconsin submitted more than 300 entries for the 2022 Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Products Contest, which took place yesterday at the Wisconsin State Fair Park. The contest featured more than 40 classes for cheese, sour cream, butter, yogurt and milk.

The 2022 Grand Master Cheesemaker, Grand Champion Butter, Grand Champion Yogurt, Grand Champion Sour Cream and Grand Champion Milk will be announced at the Blue Ribbon Dairy Products Auction on Aug. 11 at the Wisconsin State Fair Park. The Blue Ribbon Dairy Products Auction is a fundraiser for the Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board. Auction proceeds fund scholarships for students pursuing dairy-related degrees and support the board’s interactive educational display — Dairy Lane — located in the Lower Dairy Barn at the Wisconsin State Fair Park.

The top entries in each class include:

• Mild Cheddar

First: Kevin Walski, Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), Blair, Mild Cheddar, 99.150.

Second: Ankit Patel, Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Mild Cheddar, 98.875.

Third: Timothy Stearns, Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Mild Cheddar, 98.725.

• Aged Cheddar

First: Henning’s Cheese for The Artisan Cheese Exchange, The Artisan Cheese Exchange Ltd., Sheboygan, Deer Creek The Imperial Buck, 99.900.

Second: Henning’s Cheese for The Artisan Cheese Exchange, The Artisan Cheese Exchange Ltd., Sheboygan, Deer Creek The King, 99.650.

Third: Henning’s Cheese for The Artisan Cheese Exchange, The Artisan Cheese Exchange, Sheboygan, Deer Creek The Stag, 99.500.

• Colby, Monterey Jack

First: Henning’s Cheese for The Artisan Cheese Exchange, The Artisan Cheese Exchange Ltd., Deer Creek The Robin, 98.925.

Second: Widmer’s Cheese Cellars Team, Widmer’s Cheese Cellars Inc., Theresa, Traditional Colby, 98.375.

Third: Shawn Sadler, AMPI, Jim Falls, Colby Jack Blend of Colby and Monterey Jack cheese, 98.025.

• Swiss Styles

First: Team Deppeler, Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, 22# Wheel Swiss, 98.400.

Second: Richard Buss, Jr., Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, 40# Baby Swiss, 98.000.

Third: Mark Grossen, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc, Shullsburg, Baby Swiss Wheel, 97.650.

• Brick, Muenster

First: Tylan Saglam, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Buholzer Brothers Brick, 99.350.

Second: Tylan Saglam, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Buholzer Brothers Muenster, 99.075.

Third: Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy, Inc., Brodhead, Muenster, 99.050.

• Mozzarella

First: Pat Doell, Agropur, Appleton, Low Moisture Mozzarella, Whole Milk, 99.400.

Second: Jeremy Robinson, Agropur, Appleton, Low Moisture Part Skim Mozzarella, 99.300.

Third: Ben Shibler, Ron’s Wisconsin Cheese LLC, Luxemburg, LMPS Mozzarella Cheese Whips, 99.250.

• String Cheese

First: Kevin Entringer, Baker Cheese Factory Inc., Saint Cloud, Low Moisture Part Skim String Cheese, 98.900.

Second: Dan Schwind, Baker Cheese Factory Inc., Saint Cloud, Low Moisture Part Skim String Cheese, 98.775.

Third: Ben Shibler, Ron’s Wisconsin Cheese LLC, Luxemburg, Mozzarella String Cheese, 98.650.

• Blue Veined Cheese

First: Carr Valley for The Artisan Cheese Exchange, The Artisan Cheese Exchange Ltd., Sheboygan, Deer Creek The Indigo Bunting, 99.200.

Second: Team Emmi Roth-Seymour, Emmi Roth, Fitchburg, Roth Buttermilk Blue Cheese, 98.675.

Third: Team Mindoro, Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc., Mindoro, Danish-style Blue Cheese, 98.575.

• Feta

First: Charles Henn, Agropur, Weyauwega, Feta, 99.900.

Second: Kristi Hughes Wuthrich, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Feta in Brine, 99.750.

Third: BB Feta Team, Agropur, Weyauwega, Feta, 99.700.

• Flavored Pepper Cheese

First: Team Shullsburg-Jerry Soddy & Donovan Taylor, Shullsburg Creamery, Shullsburg, Salsa Cheddar, 98.725.

Second: Beh Shibler, Ron’s Wisconsin Cheese LLC, Luxemburg, Jalapeno Mozzarella Cheese Whips, 98.275.

Third: Jacob Metz, Wisconsin Dairy State Cheese Co., Rudolph, Pepper Jack, 98.225.

• Flavored Soft Cheese

First: Crave Brothers Team, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC, Waterloo, Chocolate Mascarpone, 99.700.

Second: Amanda Gutzmer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Tomato & Basil Feta, 99.600.

Third: Amanda Gutzmer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Mediterranean Feta, 99.550.

• Flavored Semi-Soft Cheese

First: Lake Country Dairy, Schuman Cheese, Turtle Lake, Garden Tomato Hand Rubbed Fontal, 99.400.

Second: Clock Shadow Creamery, Milwaukee, 99.100.

Third: Crave Brothers Team, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC, Waterloo, Marinated Fresh Mozzarella, 98.900.

• Smoked Cheese

First: Roger Krohn, Agropur, Appleton, Smoked Provolone, 99.100.

Second: Jeremy Robinsin, Agropur, Appleton, Smoked Provolone, 98.925.

Third: Pat Doell, Agropur, Appleton, Smoked Provolone, 98.675.

• Flavored Hard Cheese

First: Team Shullsburg-Jerry Soddy & Donovan Taylor, Shullsburg Creamery, Shullsburg, Maple Bacon Cheddar, 99.700.

Second: Diane Klatkiewicz, Sartori Co., Plymouth, Espresso BellaVitano, 99.575.

Third: Jerome Jones, Sartori Co., Plymouth, Merlot BellaVitano, 99.450.

• Smear Ripened Cheese

First: Emmi Roth-Monroe, Emmi Roth, Fitchburg, Roth Grand Cru Original Wheel, 99.150.

Second: Emmi Roth-Monroe, Emmi Roth, Fitchburg, Roth Grand Cru Reserve Wheel, 99.025.

Third: Jon Metzig, Union Star Cheese, Fremont, Soft Washed Rind Cheese, 98.550.

• Cold Pack Cheese, Cheese Food

First: Team Pine River, Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton, Toasted Onion Cold Pack Cheese Spread, 99.950.

Second: Team Pine River, Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton, Garlic & Herb Cold Pack Cheese Food, 99.875.

Third: Team Pine River, Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton, Pepper Jack Cold Pack Cheese Food, 99.850.

• Pasteurized Process Cheese, Cheese Food, Cheese Spread

First: AMPI’s Dinner Bell Creamery, AMPI, Portage, American & Swiss Monterey Jack Cheese with red bell peppers & jalapeno peppers, 98.925.

Second: AMPI’s Dinner Bell Creamery, AMPI, Portage, American Easy Melt Cheese Loaf, 98.875.

Third: AMPI’s Dinner Bell Creamery, AMPI, Portage, American Cheese slice-on-slice, 98.825.

• Reduced Fat or Lite Cheese

First: Anthony Dew, Cedar Grove Cheese, Plain, Reduced Fat Farmers, 98.475.

Second: Steve Webster, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Reduced Fat Feta, 98.425.

Third: Ron Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Reduced Fat Mediterranean Flavored Feta, 98.075.

• Open Class: Soft and Spreadable Cheese

First: Lake Country Dairy, Lake Country Dairy Schuman Cheese, Turtle Lake, Cello Mascarpone, 99.750.

Second: Crave Brothers Team, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC, Waterloo, Fresh Mozzarella - A, 99.600.

Third: Brian Crave, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC, Waterloo, Mascarpone, 99.500.

• Havarti

First: Decatur Cheesemakers, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, Havarti, 99.500.

Second: Dave Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Buholzer Brothers Havarti, 99.450.

Third: Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, Havarti, 99.100.

• Flavored Havarti

First: Luke Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Buholzer Brothers Dill Havarti, 99.250.

Second: Team Chalet, Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, Dill Havarti, 98.975.

Third: Matt Henze, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, Havarti with Dill, 98.925.

• Open Class: Semi-Soft Cheese

First: Roger Krohn, Agropur, Appleton, Provolone, 98.925.

Second: Pat Doell, Agropur, Appleton, Provolone, 98.525.

Third: Lake Country Dairy, Schuman Cheese, Turtle Lake, Low Moisture Fontal, 98.475.

• Open Class: Hard Cheese

First: Aaron Quick, Sartori Company, Plymouth, Asiago, 99.600.

Second: Lake Country Dairy, Schuman Cheese, Turtle Lake, Cello Asiago, 98.850.

Third: Lake Country Dairy, Schuman Cheese, Turtle Lake, Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan, 98.800.

• Flavored Goat Milk Cheese

First: Robert Garves, Mosaic Meadows, Kaukauna, LaClare Chipotle Honey Goat Cheese, 99.700.

Second: Robert Garves, Mosaic Meadows, Kaukauna, LaClare Fig & Honey Goat Cheese, 99.650.

Third: Robert Garves, Mosaic Meadows, Kaukauna, LaClare Blueberry Vanilla Goat Cheese, 98.550.

• Natural Goat Milk Cheese

First: Robert Garves, Mosaic Meadows, Kaukauna, LaClare Creamery Original Goat Cheese, 98.650.

Second: Steve Hurd, Clock Shadow Creamery, Milwaukee, Goat Ricotta, 98.050.

Third: Steve Hurd, Clock Shadow Creamery, Milwaukee, Chevre, 96.750.

• Latin American Cheese

First: Team Browntown, V&V Supremo Foods-Chula Vista Cheese Co., Northbrook, Chihuahua Cheese, 99.225.

Second: Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, Asadero, 99.050.

Third: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Queso Frier, 98.900.

• Sheep & Mixed Milk Cheese

First: Robert Wills, Cedar Grove Cheese, Plain, Donatello, 99.800.

Second: Robert Wills, Cedar Grove Cheese, Plain, Montague, 99.000.

Third: Robert Wills, Cedar Grove Cheese, Plain, Fleance, 98.500.

• Gouda & Edam

First: Ron Bechtolt, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Buholzer Brothers Gouda, 99.025.

Second: Team Roelli, Roelli Cheese Co, Shullsburg, Aged Gouda, 98.725.

Third: Ron Henningfeld, Hill Valley Dairy, East Troy, Whiskey Gouda, 98.675.

• Unflavored Cheese Curds

First: Decatur Cheesemakers, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, White Curd, 99.800.

Second: Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, Muenster Curd, 99.575.

Third: Team Nasonville Dairy, Nasonville Dairy Inc., Marshfield, Cheese Curds, 99.450.

• Flavored Cheese Curds

First: Decatur Cheesemakers, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, Tomato Bacon Basil White Curd, 99.700.

Second: Matt Henze, Decatur Dairy Inc, Brodhead, Brick Curd With Ranch, 99.650.

Third: Ben Shibler, Ron’s Wisconsin Cheese LLC, Luxemburg, Garlic & Dill Cheese Curds, 99.500

• Salted Butter

First: Cropp Cooperative/Organic Valley, La Farge, 99.000.

Second: Graf Creamery Inc., Bonduel, 98.150.

• Unsalted Butter

First: Cropp Cooperative/Organic Valley, LaFarge, 98.850.

Second: Graf Creamery Inc., Bonduel, 97.350.

• Flavored High Protein Yogurt

First: Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Vanilla Yogurt, 99.550.

Second: Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Peach Yogurt, 98.650.

• Unflavored High Protein Yogurt

First: Klondike Cheese, Monroe, Odyssey Traditional Yogurt, 99.600.

Second: Klondike Cheese, Monroe, Odyssey Greek Yogurt, 99.500.

• Open Class: Flavored Yogurt

First: Yodelay Yogurt, Madison, Yodelay Rhubarb Swiss Yogurt, 99.800.

Second: Yodelay Yogurt, Madison, Yodelay Peach-Raspberry Swiss Yogurt, 99.550.

Third: Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Whole Vanilla Yogurt, 99.300.

• Open Class: Unflavored Yogurt

First: Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Whole Fat Yogurt, 98.600.

• Drinkable Cultured Products

First: Weber’s Farm Store, Marshfield, Strawberry Low Fat Kefir, 99.800.

Second: Weber’s Farm Store, Marshfield, Raspberry Low Fat Kefir, 98.250.

Third: Weber’s Farm Store, Marshfield, Mango Low Fat Kefir, 97.900.

• Open Class: Flavored Sour Cream

First: Westby Co-op Creamery, Westby, Sour Cream Based French Onion Dip, 99.800.

• Open Class: Unflavored Sour Cream

First: Westby Co-op Creamery, Westby, Sour Cream, 99.650.

Second: Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Sour Cream, 99.200.

Third: Sigma Darlington, Darlington, Mexican Style Table Cream, 99.100.

• Lowfat Sour Cream

First: Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Reduced Fat, Greek Tzatziki, 98.500.

Second: Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Reduced Fat, Greek Sour Cream, 97.900.

Third: Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Odyssey Reduced Fat, Greek French Onion Dip, 97.750.

• 2% Fluid Milk: White

First: Weber’s Farm Store, Marshfield, Reduced Fat Milk, 99.800.


U.S. milk production in May is slightly down from a year ago

June 24, 2022

WASHINGTON — Milk production in the 24 major milk-producing states in May totaled 18.84 billion pounds, down 0.6% from May 2021, according to data released this week by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). For the entire United States, May milk production was estimated at 19.72 billion pounds, down 0.7% from May 2021. (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Milk Production chart on page 13.)

NASS reports April’s revised production for the 24 major states totaled 18.30 billion pounds, a decrease of 3 million pounds or less than 0.1% from last month’s preliminary production estimate.

May production per cow in the 24 major states averaged 2,114 pounds, 8 pounds more than May 2021 and 61 pounds more than April. For the entire United States, production per cow in May is estimated at 2,096 pounds, up 8 pounds from May 2021 and up 60 pounds from April.

NASS reports the number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major states was 8.91 million head in May, down 84,000 head from May 2021 and up 2,000 head from April. In the entire United States, there were an estimated 9.41 million milk cows in May, 102,000 cows less than May 2021 and up 2,000 cows from April.

California led the nation’s milk production in May with 3.66 billion pounds of milk, down 1.7% from May 2021. Wisconsin followed with 2.76 billion pounds of milk produced in May, up 0.8% from May 2021.


Stakeholders praise efforts in export flow, passage of OSRA

June 17, 2022

SAN PEDRO, Calif. — Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), this week said exporting American dairy products around the globe has improved as a result of a new partnership between IDFA, the Port of Los Angeles and CMA CGM, a world leader in shipping and logistics. Dykes participated in a media briefing with Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka on Tuesday.

“Despite economic headwinds and supply chain challenges around the world, U.S. dairy exports continue to outperform previous years, including through the Port of Los Angeles thanks to U.S. dairy’s partnership with the Port and CMA CGM,” Dykes says. “If the United States is to become the world’s leading supplier of nutritious, affordable, sustainable dairy products, we need more partners like the Port of Los Angeles and for more shipping companies to roll up their sleeves, find reciprocal solutions, and fill those empty containers with U.S. dairy products.”

Under the partnership in place since January at Fenix Marine Services in Los Angeles, Dykes says there has been increased control of cargo, better access to space and equipment, as well as improved efficiencies and communication. Since January, CMA CGM vessels have processed 110% more dairy exports through the Port of Los Angeles compared to the same period last year.

The busiest seaport in the Western Hemisphere, the Port of Los Angeles is North America’s leading trade gateway and has ranked as the No. 1 container port in the United States for 22 consecutive years. In 2021, the port facilitated $294 billion in trade and handled a total of 10.7 million container units, the busiest calendar year in the port’s 115-year history. San Pedro Bay port complex operations and commerce facilitate one in nine jobs across the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura.

Also this week, USDA announced plans to increase capacity for exporting chilled and frozen agricultural commodities at the Port of Houston in Houston, Texas, to help improve service for shippers of U.S. grown agricultural commodities. USDA is partnering with the Port of Houston to lease additional chassis, used to position and store containers while waiting for vessels to arrive, enabling the port to fully utilize its capacity for refrigerated shipping (“reefer”) containers. USDA is taking action to increase capacity for U.S. agricultural exports and ensure delays or insufficient capacity do not restrict exports. The Port of Houston is the public port handling over two-thirds of the Gulf of Mexico’s container cargoes — the sixth busiest container gateway in the United States.

In addition, USDA is announcing an expansion of its existing partnership with the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) to enhance access to a 16-acre “pop-up” site to accept either dry agricultural or refrigerated containers for temporary storage at NWSA in Tacoma to reduce operational hurdles and costs so they can more quickly be loaded on ships at the export terminals. This announcement builds on the existing partnership with the NWSA at the Port of Seattle announced in March. The NWSA includes the marine cargo operations of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma and is the fourth-largest container gateway in the United States.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide payments of $200 per dry container and $400 per reefer container to help cover the additional logistical costs of moving the container twice, first to the preposition site and then to the terminal loading the vessel, along with the cost of temporary storage. The NWSA pop-up site itself does not require USDA cost-share assistance as this site already has handling equipment and reefer plugs, FSA says.

FSA will make monthly direct payments to eligible agricultural companies and cooperatives on a per-container basis using the Port of Tacoma based upon the type of shipping container — dry filled containers and reefer filled containers. The site will have the ability to pre-cool refrigerated shipping containers to receive perishable commodities.

To apply, applicants must complete form FSA-862, Commodity Container Assistance Program (CCAP) Application, according to FSA-862 instructions and submit the form to the FSA National Office by email at Payments will be made in arrears and verified with terminal records. A Unique Entity ID (12 alphanumeric characters assigned by is required. Applicants who wish to receive payment by direct deposit must complete registration online at and provide bank account information. Applicants may submit applications on a monthly basis, but all applications must be submitted by Jan. 31, 2023.

FSA will make payments to eligible owners or designated marketing agents of U.S. agricultural commodities based on the number of eligible shipping containers utilized from March 1 through Dec. 31, 2022, from the Port of Oakland and NWSA to ship agricultural commodities to their designated markets on container ships. Eligible commodities include agricultural commodities (other than tobacco) that are grown or produced in the United States for food, feed or fiber, and products made from those commodities, including certain forestry products.

Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives this week approved the Senate version of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act in an effort to reduce bottlenecks at U.S. ports and improve conditions for agricultural exports, following a week of industry advocacy. The Senate approved the bill unanimously in March.

President Biden applauded a bipartisan group of congressional leaders for their action and signed the legislation into law on Thursday.

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act boosts the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the agency that oversees ocean shipping, allowing probes of carriers’ business practices and authorizing enforcement actions. It also requires ocean common carriers to report “total import/export tonnage” on a quarterly basis and bars those carriers from “unreasonably” declining opportunities for U.S. exports, with guidance to be provided in new FMC rules.

“On behalf of the U.S. dairy industry, I want to thank bipartisan members of Congress in the House and the Senate for working together pass the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which should provide important tools to address supply chain bottlenecks plaguing U.S. dairy and food exports,” Dykes says.

Dykes note the legislation also puts guardrails around when demurrage can be charged, helping to get U.S. dairy exports on the water in a timelier manner.

“Unlike 20 years ago, the U.S. dairy industry today is the third-largest dairy exporting nation in the world,” he says. “We need America’s transportation and export systems to pave the way for the United States to become the world’s leading supplier of high-quality, affordable, dairy nutrition within a decade. IDFA is confident this bill is a step toward that goal and is looking forward to working with the Federal Maritime Commission on its implementation.”

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), says NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council are grateful to congressional leaders for their leadership in getting this legislation drafted, introduced and passed quickly.

“The U.S. dairy industry has suffered many challenges in getting goods smoothly and reliably to export markets due in large part to problematic ocean carrier practices,” Mulhern says. “These new rules will allow the FMC to better enforce reasonable behavior by the ocean carriers.”

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture CEO Ted McKinney also praised passage of the bill.

“Undue burden to our food system and supply chain has been lessened today with the passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which maintains fair ocean carrier practices. Today’s actions couldn’t have come at a more needed time for the United States and the world as changes from the Ocean Shipping Reform Act will enable more U.S. agricultural products to reach the global marketplace,” McKinney says.

Also praising the bill’s passage, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative notes trade is critical to the long-term strength of the dairy community.

“Providing more safeguards against unreasonable and unfair practices by shipping companies will help ensure our products get to market in a timely and affordable way,” says Edge President Brody Stapel. “Clearing out shipping backlogs is important to untwisting the supply chain and reducing costs for farmers, exporters and our customers. Edge greatly appreciates the bipartisan work to get this done, and we are thankful for the leadership of Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., and John Garamendi, D-Calif., and Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.”


Abbott reopens plant in Sturgis but halts production due to storms

June 17, 2022

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. — Abbott restarted infant formula production at its Sturgis, Michigan, facility June 4 after meeting initial requirements agreed to with FDA as part of the consent decree entered into on May 16 following its product recall.

Abbott started its production of EleCare and other specialty and metabolic formulas, with initial EleCare product release to consumers beginning on or about June 20. It also is working to fulfill the steps necessary to restart production of Similac and other formulas as soon as it can.

However, later this week, the company paused production at the Sturgis plant after thunderstorms and heavy rain flooded parts of the facility, news reports say. The company notified FDA and said the incident likely would delay the production and distribution of the infant formula for a few weeks.

Earlier this week, Abbott also announced it will be importing 1.1 million pounds of powder infant formula to the United States from its manufacturing facility in Granada, Spain, through the summer after receiving enforcement discretion from FDA. These shipments will include powder Similac Total Comfort and Similac NeoSure, the equivalent of 686,350 cans or more than 16.5 million 8-fluid-ounce bottles of formula.

The formula will be available for purchase through and other online retailers once it arrives, and a portion of the inventory will be provided as emergency samples to areas of the country experiencing low supply for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

FDA continues to update its list of product where it will exercise enforcement discretion to increase infant formula supplies in the United States. FDA’s total estimated quantities on this list as of June 15 totaled 6 million cans or 147 million 8-ounce bottles.

In addition to the products Abbott will be shipping in from Spain, FDA has given enforcement discretion to Mead Johnson/Reckitt to ship powder from Singapore, Nestlé to ship various products from Germany and Mexico, Bubs Australia Ltd. to ship formula products from Australia, and Nutricia (Danone) and Kendal Nutricare Ltd. to ship infant milk from the United Kingdom.

Also earlier this month, USDA announced it is offering nationwide waivers to increase access to infant formula for families in need as states receive and distribute imported infant formula, leveraging new authority from the recently passed Access to Baby Formula Act to offer this flexibility. The action builds on existing flexibilities to provide the widest access to available infant formula for WIC families.


AgCertain Industries acquires Blue cheese marketer Maytag

June 17, 2022

AMES, Iowa — AgCertain Industries Inc., a food, agricultural and bio-based product development, manufacturing and marketing company based here, this week announced its acquisition of Newton, Iowa-based Maytag Dairy Farms, manufacturer and marketer of Maytag Blue Cheese as well as other specialty artisanal food and beverage products.

Midwest Growth Partners (MGP) — a private equity firm based in West Des Moines, Iowa, a shareholder of AgCertain Industries and the previous owner of Maytag Dairy Farms — is expanding its investment in AgCertain Industries by facilitating this acquisition.

“The combination of these two companies supports continuing success and spurs greater potential for growth across AgCertain’s growing set of brands, products and services,” says John Mickelson, managing partner, MGP.

AgCertain Industries and Maytag Dairy Farms both operate with rigorous food safety measures and certifications, and the strength of both organizations, working together, is clear, AgCertain officials say.
AgCertain Industries’ CEO Daniel Oh says the company is excited to acquire Maytag Dairy Farms.

“In my experience, I have developed a deep appreciation for what makes Maytag Blue Cheese so special. Maytag’s success is rooted in its commitment to quality, and I believe the company has tremendous opportunity to grow and provide a broader range of products and services to our customers,” Oh says.

Founded in 1941, Maytag Dairy Farms has a legacy of providing high-quality, small-batch, crafted cheese and other specialty products to the business and consumer marketplace. With its acquisition by AgCertain, Maytag becomes part of a larger organization with the ability to accelerate recent successes in modernizing and growing its business.

Maytag recently has expanded its product lineup to include new cheeses, artisanal honey products and a honey-based wine product (mead). Oh notes that by combining two Iowa-based companies, AgCertain and Maytag are able to create deeper branding opportunities and expanded product sales opportunities for both organizations. He also points to the ability to leverage the talent of management and staff in both organizations, “a combination that will provide a quicker growth trajectory and enhanced employment opportunities for staff members in both organizations.”

Maytag Blue cheese will continue to be made by the expert cheesemakers in Newton, Iowa.


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
July 5, 2022

Barrels: $2.1650 (-4)
Blocks: $2.0850 (-8 3/4)

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Cheese Production
U.S. Total April
1.155 bil. lbs.

Milk Production
U.S. Total May
19.715 bil. lbs.

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Expansion, innovation mark new era for research center

John Lucey, Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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