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Western United Dairymen

  • Hilmar Jerseys of Hilmar, Named 2015 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year

    Hilmar Jerseys, a 6,000-cow dairy operation located in Hilmar, Calif., was named the 2015 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year during an awards ceremony today at the International Dairy Foods Association's Dairy Forum in Boca Raton, Fla.  The award, co-sponsored by IDFA and Dairy Today magazine, recognizes U.S. dairy producers that apply creativity, excellence and forward thinking to achieve greater on-farm productivity and improved milk marketing.  

    “IDFA and Dairy Today selected Hilmar Jerseys because of its dedicated focus on animal care, which the owners call stockmanship,” said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. “At a time when animal care is gaining headlines and sound bites, we thought it was important to honor and highlight a dairy farm that is doing all the right things and spreading the knowledge to the broader dairy community.”

    Hilmar Jerseys was nominated by McKenzie Klein, producer relations manager for Hilmar Cheese Company. She attended the awards ceremony along with Hilmar Jerseys co-owners, Chuck and Mark Ahlem.

    Animal well-being and respect has always been important at Hilmar Jerseys, which was formed by Chuck Ahlem in 1982. The operation now comprises five dairy facilities that cover 4,000 acres and market a total of 143.8 million pounds of milk each year. <more>

    Jan. 26, 2015 IDFA news release



  • Milk industry fights back against 'anti-dairy folks'

    The milk industry is fed up with all the sourness over dairy.

    As Americans continue turning away from milk, an industry group is pushing back at its critics with a social media campaign trumpeting the benefits of milk. The association says it needs to act because attitudes about milk are deteriorating more rapidly, with vegan groups, non-dairy competitors and other perceived enemies getting louder online.

    Julia Kadison, CEO of Milk Processor Education Program, which represents milk companies, says the breaking point came last year when the British Medical Journal published a study suggesting drinking lots of milk could lead to earlier deaths and higher incidents of fractures. Even though the study urged a cautious interpretation of its findings, it prompted a wave of posts online about the dangers of drinking milk.

    "I said, 'That's enough.' We can't have these headlines that 'Milk Can Kill You' and not stand up for the truth," Kadison said in a phone interview.

    On Tuesday, the "Get Real" social media campaign will be announced at a dairy industry gathering in Boca Raton, Florida in conjunction with the National Dairy Council and Dairy Management Inc., which represent dairy farmers. The campaign is intended to drown out milk's detractors with positive posts about the nutritional benefits of milk on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. Milk brands, their employees and others in the industry will post the messages and direct people to a website where they can get more information.

    Online ads will also tout the superiority of dairy milk over almond milk, which is surging in popularity.

    The campaign comes as milk's dominance in American homes continues to wane as beverage options proliferate. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, people drank an average of 14.5 gallons of milk a year in 2012. That's down 33 percent from the 21.8 gallons a year in 1970.

    One factor chipping away at milk's dominance is the growth of non-dairy alternatives.

    While soy milk's popularity has faded, retail sales for almond milk are estimated to be up 39 percent last year, according to Virginia Lee, a packaged food analyst with market researcher Euromonitor International.

    Meanwhile, the USDA recommends adults get three cups of dairy a day, including options like fat-free, low-fat milk or calcium-fortified soy milk. And the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which represents nutrition professionals, is supporting the Get Real campaign and its push to underscore "the decades of research reinforcing low-fat milk as one of the most nutrient-rich beverages available."

    But milk's wholesome image is nevertheless being muddied by diet trends and divergent attitudes about nutrition. Many who follow the popular Paleo diet, for instance, shun dairy because people didn't drink it during the Stone Age.

    Animal welfare groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are also a thorn in the milk industry's side. On its website, PETA notes that "no species drinks milk beyond infancy or drinks the milk of another species" and details the cruel conditions dairy cows are often subject to.

    That's one of the reasons Valentin Vornicu, a 31-year-old resident of San Diego, California, said he stays away from milk. Vornicu became a vegan four years ago and says he has more energy and has never felt better.

    "It looks like a scene from the Matrix. 'You see a picture of that and you're like, I'm drinking this? ," said Vornicu, citing footage he's seen of cows hooked up to milking machines.

    Already, MilkPEP has tried some different tactics in hopes of battling milk's decline.

    In 2007, the group started promoting chocolate milk as a recovery drink for athletes.

    Then last year, the industry dropped its "Got Milk?" campaign featuring famous people sporting milk mustaches in favor of a campaign called "Milk Life" that focuses on the everyday benefits of milk.

    With the "Get Real" campaign launching Tuesday, Kadison said the industry plans to stop "the seeds of doubt" that "naysayers, these anti-dairy folks, and also the competitors" are planting in people's mind about milk "before the fever gets too high."

    Jan. 26, 2015 AP



  • Jim Dickrell: Dairy Prices Should Recover in Second Half of 2015

    While not a certainty, global milk prices are likely to recover beginning in the third and fourth quarter of 2015, says Tim Hunt, global dairy strategist for Rabobank. Hunt spoke this afternoon at the 2015 Dairy Forum here in Boca Rotan, Fla.

    “As dairy product prices come down globally, we’ll squeeze out demand that we had shut down for the past two years,” he says. “Anytime whole milk powder prices exceed $4,000/ton, we squeeze just about everybody from the market but China.”

    Supply shortages over the past two years and excessive demand from China sent dairy prices soaring in 2014. In some third world markets, such as Sri Lanka, the price of shelf-stable milk jumped 150% over the past few years.

    But as prices decline, import demand from Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa and southeast Asia resumes, he says. The bad news is that the magnet of lower powder prices won’t attract a lot of demand until the second half of 2015.

    In 2015, Hunt expects Russian consumption will actually decrease some 3%. Europe will likely grow by 1.6%, China by 1%, and the U.S. just 0.3% Overall global demand will growth will be meager—0.6%.

    “The current bleak market outlook is not the end of a bright dairy story,” says Hunt. “We just face a period of darkness before the dawn.”

    Better prices, and resumption in global dairy growth, are likely on tap for 2016 and beyond. And the United States, with land, resources and dairy infrastructure, are uniquely positioned among all dairy exporting nations to take advantage of the rebounding economy.

    Jan. 26, 2015 Dairy Today



  • Environmentalists cry foul over fish decision

    A decision made quietly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this month to go along with a request by the Bureau of Reclamation could shove the endangered Delta smelt to the edge of extinction, environmental groups fear. The Obama Administration decision allows more than twice as many endangered Delta smelt to be killed by the Central Valley Projectís pumps than had been previously allowed, say the California Water Impact Network and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. The policy was adopted just days after the annual California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that populations of the tiny, once-abundant fish have sunk to new lows.<more>

    Jan. 26, 2015 Central Valley Business Times



  • California Air Regulators Eye Methane Emissions From Oil, Ag

    California's air regulators are increasingly turning their attention to a greenhouse gas that has largely gone overlooked - methane. According to the U.S. EPA, when it comes to climate change, methane emissions have an impact 20 times greater than CO2 emissions, pound for pound. That's why Governor Jerry Brown singled out the gas during his inaugural address this month as part of his plan to combat climate change. <more>

     

    Jan. 20, 2015 VPR

     



  • Western United Dairymen announces participation in Tricolored Blackbird project funded by USDA

    Western United Dairymen (WUD) along with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Audubon California announced an innovative new conservation project to boost habitat and outreach work for the threatened Tricolored Blackbird. The partnership was announced during an event held at the Sacramento Zoo, which has been collecting donations to help the struggling bird.

    “We’ve been working on this issue for over a decade, long before the Tricolored Blackbird was listed as endangered,” explained Paul Sousa, WUD director of environmental services. “This is another positive step forward to work collaboratively and progressively with our members and environmental interests to address the problem.”

     

    This project will provide $1.1 million to address factors that challenge dairy farmers and threaten Tricolored Blackbird populations, with the goal of finding a sustainable solution for management of colonies on farms and saving the species from extinction. In addition to using working lands programs and wetland easements to protect and increase habitat, an educational campaign will help increase awareness of farmers’ role in saving the species in the San Joaquin Valley. 

     

    Tricolored Blackbirds historically nested in vast wetlands of the Central Valley, but as that habitat has declined, the birds have established large nesting colonies in triticale, a plant used for dairy cattle feed. Unfortunately, harvest season coincides with the birds’ nesting season. When these fields are harvested before young birds have fledged, thousands of eggs and nestlings can be lost. In recent years, WUD has worked collaboratively with key partners to  support farmers who delay harvests to allow the young birds to fledge. This new grant takes those partnerships to a whole new level.

     

    In addition to delayed harvest, the new partnership will work to entice the birds to nearby wetland easements where they will be able to nest without creating problems for the farmers. Selected easements will be supplied with water and planted with crops preferred by Tricolored Blackbirds.

     

    A survey of Tricolored Blackbirds completed last year showed that the birds have declined 44 percent since 2011, prompting the California Fish and Game Commission to approve an emergency listing in December under the state Endangered Species Act.

     

    This partnership is one of six distinct conservation projects selected in California through the new NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). RCPP was created in the 2014 Farm Bill. Each project has its own set of conservation benefits, specific goals and management practices. Nationally, 100 projects were selected receiving $370 million in total. The four projects that are totally within California borders will receive approximately $12 million with partners providing matching resources to implement the work.



  • Obama to propose tax increases on investments, inherited property

    President Barack Obama will call on the new Republican-led Congress to raise taxes on investments and inherited property and to create or expand a range of tax breaks for middle-income families, laying out an opening position in a debate over taxation that both parties see as a potential area of compromise. Obama will outline the measures in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. He will propose using revenue generated from the tax increases—which would fall mainly on high-income households—to pay for a raft of new breaks aimed at boosting stagnant incomes for low- and middle-income households. Those initiatives include tripling the child-care tax credit and creating a new credit for families in which both spouses work, senior administration officials said on Saturday. <more

    Jan. 18, 2015 Money Watch



  • Farms can be held liable for pollution from manure, U.S. Federal Court rules

    A U.S. federal court has ruled for the first time that manure from livestock facilities can be regulated as solid waste, a decision hailed by environmentalists as opening the door to potential legal challenges against facilities across the country. A large dairy in Washington state, Cow Palace Dairy, polluted ground water by over applying manure to soil, ruled Judge Thomas Rice of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington on Wednesday. "The practices of this mega-dairy are no different than thousands of others across the country," said Jessica Culpepper, an attorney at Public Justice, one of the firms that represented the plaintiffs, a collection of public advocacy groups. The case is scheduled to go to trial in March to decide the extent of the contamination and the clean-up. <more>

    Jan. 16, 2015 Reuters



  • Paul Martin returns to Western United Dairymen as interim CEO

    Paul Martin will return to Western United Dairymen (WUD) to serve as interim CEO as the search continues for a permanent leader. WUD President Tom Barcellos said the board of directors and the entire staff is truly excited to welcome Paul back to the team. He noted that Paul is a familiar face to WUD members, and is more than capable of leading the organization. Both Tom and the entire WUD family couldn’t be happier to have Paul take the reins during this transition. Martin retired from WUD in 2012 after serving as the long-time director of environmental services. An expert in environmental issues and the California dairy industry, Martin is well regarded both domestically and internationally for his work on air and water quality issues. Over the course of his tenure, he also built strong relationships with federal and state agencies which is vital to WUD’s progress on issues important to the dairy industry. Martin graduated from UC Davis with a degree in agriculture economics and went on to earn his MA in environmental studies from Sonoma State. He is also a graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program.

    Jan. 16, 2015 WUD news



  • WUD participates in tricolored blackbird project funded by USDA

    The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California announces six new partnership-driven conservation projects, funded under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), newly created in the 2014 Farm Bill. Nationwide, RCPP is providing federal financial and technical resources for more than 100 approved projects, totaling $372 million. Each project has its own set of conservation benefits, specific goals and management practices. Four of the selected projects benefit agricultural lands geographically located within California, and two additional projects provide conservation benefits on a multi-state level. The four projects that are totally within California borders will receive approximately $12 million with partners providing matching resources to implement the work. Selected amongst the projects is “Enhancement of Tricolored Blackbird Habitat on Agricultural Land” lead by Audubon California with participation from Western United Dairymen. The project will address factors that challenge dairy farmers and threaten Tricolored Blackbird populations, with the goal of finding a sustainable solution for management of colonies on farms and saving the species from extinction. In addition to using working lands programs and wetland easements to protect and increase habitat, an educational campaign will help increase awareness of farmers' role in saving the species.

    Jan. 14, 2015 NRCS



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