Ag Briefs: Fluid milk sales continue downward slide

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs


Soybean Innovation Lab to lead new $1M initiative

The Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) at the University of Illinois has been selected by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to lead a new $1 million project — Innovation to Impact (i2i), as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. Efficient technology delivery for commercial uptake and economic sustainability requires a demand-driven industrial research framework, the university reported.

SIL has engaged a team of eight innovators including researchers from the Feed the Future Legume Innovation Lab at Michigan State University, the Livestock Systems Innovation Lab at the University of Florida, the Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss at Kansas State, and the Peanut Innovation Lab at the University of Georgia to serve as co-creators of the i2i toolkit.


Fluid milk sales fall for 10th year

Data collected for dairy sales in 2019 show that fluid milk sales decreased another 1.75% since 2018, according to the USDA.

Statistics show that sales for fluid milk have been in decline for nearly a decade. However, the loss of sales seem to be slowing a bit. Previous year on year losses range between 0.6% to 3% for fluid milk.

The big picture is less encouraging as fluid milk made up nearly 55 billion pounds of sales in 2009, that total has dropped to 46.4 billion pounds last year, according to USDA data.

Surprisingly, flavored whole milk sales gained traction, with sales increasing over 10% over the past year. Whole milk also experienced an increase of 1.4% in sales.

With non-milk alternatives taking up more shares of the market, other milk products suffered with lost sales including skim milk (10.7%), 1% milk (5.8%), 2% milk (2.5%) and buttermilk (7%).


Pence says Harris puts 'radical agenda' ahead of farmers

Vice President Mike Pence used his stop in Wisconsin this month to promote the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement this year. He noted Sen. Kamala Harris, a senator from California, voted against it, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report. 

"I heard that Joe Biden's running mate is in Milwaukee today," he said. "But dairy farmers in Wisconsin deserve to know that Sen. Kamala Harris is one of only 10  senators to vote against the USMCA. She said it didn’t go far enough on climate change.

"'Now, here at Dairyland Power, you deserve to know Sen. Harris put their radical environmental agenda ahead of Wisconsin dairy and ahead of Wisconsin power. But under President Donald Trump we will always put Wisconsin farmers, Wisconsin businesses and Wisconsin families first."


Block and barrel spread grows

The spread between block and barrel futures continued to grow with Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) trading cheddar blocks at $2.21 and a half - 5 cents higher - and barrels gaining half a cent to $1.60 per pound — creating a spread of 61 ½ cents.

This exceeds the 59 ¾ cent spread reached back in mid-July, according to Farm Journal.

Thieves steal hemp crop


The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets confirmed that thieves made off with a farmer's entire hemp crop, cutting all 50 plants off at the base of the stem.

There was signage at the field indicating the crop was hemp being grown for CBD, according to the agency.

A press release stated that the theft appeared to have been pre-planned using shearing tools, multiple individuals and large vehicles used in the commission of the removal of 500 pounds of hemp from the Fancy Plants business.

Law enforcement officials estimate the crop's value at $6.000.


China sales still not on pace

American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Veronica Nigh told Micheal Clements that while new trade data shows China buying more U.S. commodities, those sales aren’t on pace with trade commitments.

Nigh says that while China is picking up the pace on purchases, they haven't hit commitments made in the Phase 1 trade agreement. From January through July, sales to China this year are nearly $8 billion, but still 44% below the pace needed for them to reach the Phase 1 goals.

Nor are additional sales to China increasing U.S. ag in 2020, according to AFBF. During the first half of the year, U.S. total exports are around $75.9 billion, compared to that same window last year when sales were $78.6 billion, a 3% decline Nigh said.


Clouds of mosquitoes kill livestock after hurricane

Clouds of mosquitoes have been so thick in southwest Louisiana since Hurricane Laura that they're killing cattle and horses. 

Farmers in a five-parish area east and northeast of the parishes where the storm made its landfall Aug. 27 have probably lost 300 to 400 cattle, said Dr. Craig Fontenot, a large-animal veterinarian based in Ville Platte.

He said the swarms are so thick that the vast number of bites leave horses and cattle anemic and bleeding under their skins. The animals also become exhausted from constantly moving in an attempt to avoid the biting insects, he told the Associated Press. 


Golden Sands to hold virtual Field Day

For the first time in 14 years, Golden Sands RC&D will host the annual Waupaca County Conservation Field Day online on Sept. 25.

About 300 Waupaca County 5th grade students from Waupaca Middle School, Marion Elementary School, Manawa Elementary School, Christ Lutheran School, Chain O’ Lakes Elementary School, Iola-Scandinavia Elementary School, and St. Rose St. Mary’s School will attend the virtual event. 

Students will watch a prerecorded video of a conservation professional and will have the opportunity to ask that professional questions during a live Q&A. The event is typically held at Hartman Creek State Park.


Former Driscoll's executive sentenced

A former executive for one of the world’s largest berry suppliers was sentenced to federal prison on Sept. 10. Marc Marier  from Napierville, Illinois, was sentenced in a San Jose federal courtroom to 29 months in prison after pleading guilty in June to wire fraud and money laundering. He was also ordered to repay nearly $ 1.5 million.

Prosecutors say Marier embezzled from Driscoll’s, a Watsonville, California, firm that works with growers worldwide and sells strawberries, blueberries and other berries in dozens of countries. The company has about a third of the global berry market.

In 2017, Marier was hired as director of real estate and workplace services. Shortly after being employed, Marier began submitting and approving false invoices from a phony business, and routing the payments to a bank account he controlled, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office said