By John Holevoet
Dairy Business Association Director of Government Affairs
When DBA was formed 18 years ago, the future of dairy farming in Wisconsin looked dim. Local permitting headaches had obstructed the development of new dairies and the expansion of existing farms. The dairy community was facing multiple crises, both practical and existential.
The association was critical to turning that tide. After hard-fought battles and a lot of bridge building, the livestock facility siting law was passed. This law stopped the steady decline in the state’s cow population. New farms were built. The processing community made huge new investments. Dairy had found its footing again.
Unfortunately, it feels like we are approaching a regulatory tipping point once again. Local regulations on new and existing farms are on the rise. The state Department of Natural Resources seems to become more difficult to work with every day.
By Michael Kuehl
More than 1,500 distance runners will soon engage in a race unlike any that’s taken place in Wisconsin before. Where else but in America’s Dairyland would participants be able to meet and greet cows before and after the race?
Yet, this is exactly what happens when dairy farmers, cheese and butter processors, cattle haulers and dozens of associated businesses unite to organize a fun run — or, more accurately, a fun run with a purpose. The inaugural “Kickin’ It with the Cows” Run/Walk, benefiting Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, will be held July 8 at Voyageur Park in De Pere.
While the race is new, it’s actually an extension of the very successful Dairy Cares of Wisconsin initiative. The non-profit organization has raised more than $630,000 on behalf of the hospital since hosting its first Garden Party fundraiser in 2011.
By Laurie Fischer
American Dairy Coalition CEO
For 20 years, members of the dairy industry have looked to our federal government to fix our broken immigration system. As dairy producers grow their operations to keep up with the growing global demand for nutritious, safe and affordable dairy products, more and more manpower is needed to milk the cows, tend the fields and keep the dairy industry viable.
These low-skilled, but vitally important jobs are passed up by domestic workers time and time again — regardless of increased starting wages and benefit packages. These unfilled jobs are important for creating the higher-skilled jobs that employ thousands and thousands of domestic workers.
The bottom line: If dairy producers can’t find the labor they need, our nation must either import workers or import dairy products from foreign countries. Dairy producers have patiently waited for the federal government to provide a legal immigration reform solution, yet each year they are left with no answers and an increasingly dire situation.
By Ben Brancel
The benefits of Wisconsin’s dairy industry reaches far beyond the barn doors. While our Wisconsin farm families rely on the dairy business for their livelihood, we all rely on dairy for the impact it has on our state’s economy, culture and future.
We see America’s Dairyland on our license plates every day while driving down the highway, but we likely take what that really means for granted. Dairy contributes $43.4 billion to Wisconsin’s economy annually. That is more than if you combine the value of citrus to Florida, potatoes to Idaho, apples to Washington and raisins to California. These dollars support local communities, businesses and schools.
Wisconsin-based Grassland Dairy Products deserves credit for how it conducted itself during a recent milk supply crisis. Sadly, what it actually got was a very public thrashing at the hands of a few angry farmers, a predictably lazy press corps and a chorus of Canadian socialists.
Here are the facts: At the start of May, family-owned Grassland — the largest independent butter producer in the United States — notified about 58 farms it would stop buying their ultra-filtered milk as a result of Canada changing its dairy pricing policy to favor domestic production.
This was a significant blow to the processor, which was losing the equivalent of 1.3 million pounds of milk sold each day in Canada. Grassland was given no notice that its Canadian buyer was backing out.
The term “fake news” triggers Americans across all political perspectives. That’s because what constitutes “fakery” lies entirely in the eyes of the beholder.
The problem with the term, of course, is it’s too simplistic: It suggests there’s “true” reporting and “false” reporting — and very little in between.
In reality, of course, there’s a spectrum of proper practices — objectivity, sourcing, context, balance, accuracy, etc. — that all go into the making of what we might characterize as an accurate news story.
All of which brings us to a fascinating case study in how a mainstream publication — in this case, the left-leaning, generally anti-farmer “Capital Times” in Madison, Wis. — hides behind its “press pass” credentials while actively perpetuating the worst myths about modern agriculture.
By Damian Mason
Marketers have always used trendy buzzwords. As a kid, every product from furniture glue to Tang featured “space age technology.” Then came the “new and improved” revolution — everything was touted as better now than it had been. Today, we’re fully into the “sustainable” era. From carpet made of recycled milk jugs, to restaurants growing their own herbs, it’s trendy to be sustainable.
According to dictionary.com, sustainable, as referred to in agriculture, means: pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse.
But when critics of modern food production say, “sustainable,” they don’t really mean “viable” or “techniques that allow for continual reuse.” In their vernacular, sustainable means: Old fashioned. Or small. Usually, it means organic. Sometimes, it means local, though that’s increasingly ambiguous, too. One article I read referred to food production methods used in Third World countries as sustainable.
FEAST: The National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) is taking a stand against Hollywood-fueled, “clean-eating” fad diets and encouraging youths to get their dairy intake of calcium and vitamin D.
Contrary to some of the bizarre eating regimens perpetuated and promoted by pop-culture starlets, such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Hudson, the NOS research showed that children who cut or reduced dairy from their diet faced a “ticking time bomb” to their bones. The research highlighted how a lack of dairy in the diet could specifically increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition which causes bones to become fragile and break easily.
We’d prefer to take our dietary advice from one good doctor (better yet, an entire society of them) rather than the entire gamut of Brad Pitt’s ex-girlfriends.
By Ben Brancel
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary
Over the past month, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection focused on finding a short-term solution for the dozens of Wisconsin dairy farm families who suddenly lost their milk market. Thankfully on May 1, 99 percent of the milk had found a new home, at least temporarily.
While we will continue to assist farmers through the Wisconsin Farm Center, it is now time for us as an industry to keep the conversation going and look long-term. The lessons we have learned should be what guides the future of Wisconsin’s dairy industry. The current situation has shown us all the importance of communication.
Reposted from Meatingplace.com:
Recently, I spent a morning with a country veterinarian. As he checked cattle for their health certificates, we talked about antibiotic use in cattle, sheep, pigs, turkeys and chickens. He’s observed a deeply concerning trend; many sick animals are not being treated with antibiotics because ranchers and farmers are required to keep their animals ABF (antibiotic free) for their large, socially driven corporate customers.
When animals get sick, and many do, just like many kids get sick, they need antibiotics to get better. Most parents would never
withhold antibiotics if their child had an infection that a medicine would help cure. That would be cruelly neglectful. Most in ag production would also gladly pay for the antimicrobials to help their animals heal from an infection.
But over the last few years we’ve seen social paranoia needlessly demonize the right judicious use
of antibiotics. Chick-fil-a declared they’ll end antibiotic use in their chickens by 2019. Last week, KFC announced that by the end of 2018 all their chicken will be raised without antibiotics “important to human medicine.” Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Subway have also received wide social media praise for going antibiotic free. Is this a scientifically justifiable reaction?
Since my visit with the veterinarian, I’ve been searching for peer reviewed research which definitively shows that antibiotic use in animals has caused human health problems. Sure, there’s plenty of rhetoric to that effect, but I’ve been surprised to find that the science isn’t backing the hysteria. Where are the studies? Surely if we’re withholding necessary treatment from animals and allowing them to suffer and die, we must
have a preponderance of evidence that our decisions are sound. Or not…There is almost no antibiotic residue found in meat
The USDA conducts a rigorous antibiotic residues testing program on a regular basis, and publishes its findings with collaboration from the FDA, the CDC, the EPA, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), and the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), who all contribute to the United States National Residue Program (U.S. NRP).
In its most recent report
, the U.S. NRP found that “Under the domestic scheduled sampling program, in 2014, FSIS [the Food Safety and Inspection Service] collected 6,066 residue samples, from which 12 violative analytes were reported from 10 samples. These 10 samples account for 9 unique carcass violations, which is less than 1 percent of the samples collected.” [0.
This demonstrates that the recommended withdrawal periods for antibiotics are being carefully followed and that almost all meat is antibiotic free. That was even before the newly implemented Veterinarian Feed Directive (VFD) that further restricts AB use. Even before the VFD, antibiotic residues were found less and less frequently in meat samples according to U.S. NRP reports.
So where is the hard science, the peer reviewed, demonstrable evidence that has caused this socially driven paranoia about antibiotic resistance caused by meat? Yes, the careless use of antibiotics in humans can cause AB resistance, but there is no evidence that shows the minute amount of antibiotic residue in meat is causing any such human health issues.
Meanwhile, poultry farmers watch thousands of birds die that could’ve lived with the responsible use of antibiotics. Mortality rates in ABF poultry flocks have climbed by 2 percent according to growers I’ve spoken with recently. By keeping their herds AB free for their customers, cattle and pork producers must cull animals out that get sick and sell them for less or watch them suffer and often die. Veterinarians across the land are reporting that without the judicious use of antibiotics, many animals are needlessly staying sick and dying slow and painful deaths. How is that
responsible or socially acceptable?
Big food chains are making big food claims about their ABF programs, but they’re based on the manipulation of unjustified fears rather than sound science. Is it economically or environmentally sustainable to euthanize untold thousands of animals to pacify an unsubstantiated paranoia? Who’s going to answer for the wrongful suffering and senseless growing mortality of untreated animals?
Why isn’t anyone asking these
questions on social media?