Western United Dairymen Headline News

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Western United Dairymen

  • Dairy Margin Protection Program enrollment begins Sept. 2

    U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that dairy farmers can enroll in the new Dairy Margin Protection Program (DMPP) starting Sept. 2. Enrollment ends on Nov. 28, 2014, for 2014 and 2015. Participating farmers must remain in the program through 2018 and pay a minimum $100 administrative fee each year. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer. (more) Aug.28, 2014 Dairy Herd Management



  • Ross withdraws controversial Calif. milk marketing bill

    California Ag Secretary Karen Ross has withdrawn legislation that would dramatically change the marketing of the state’s Class 4 milk following strong opposition from producer groups. The bill, AB 2730, would have allowed 100 percent of the state’s Class 4 milk to be marketed outside of the milk pool with no regulated minimum price by July 1, 2016, with a stepped-up phase-in period beginning July 1, 2015. Dairy Farmers of America, California Dairy Campaign and Land O’Lakes strongly opposed the bill, and Western United Dairymen would not support the bill unless it was amended to provide for better protections for producers. The bill, AB 2730, co-authored by Assembly member Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, and Sen. Christine Galgiani, D-Stockton, was amended in the Senate on Aug. 22 to reflect Ross’s intentions. (more) Sept. 28, 2014 Capital Press





  • CDFA Secretary Ross: Pricing legislation will not be pursued

    CDFA Secretary Karen Ross today issued a statement that dairy pricing legislation, AB 2730, introduced last week to “modernize California’s dairy processing system will not be pursued this session.” Ross said, “While the timing was not ideal, I was compelled to see if we could get something done this year.  Since the August 13th Task Force meeting, a tremendous amount of progress has been made, but not enough.  So we will not be pursuing reform legislation this year.”  


    Here is the full text of her statement and statements from Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Assemblywoman Susan Susan Talamantes Eggman, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee:        

    Statement from CDFA Secretary Karen Ross:
    “Let me begin by thanking all of you who have spent many, many hours considering ways in which we can reform the industry in a positive and collaborative way.  I established the Dairy Future Task Force to see if we could find commonality amongst two sides that have been separated for quite some time.  Through this process, a framework came together that would have meant substantial financial relief for producers and flexibility to processors that would have benefited the whole industry.  While the timing was not ideal, I was compelled to see if we could get something done this year.  Since the August 13th Task Force meeting, a tremendous amount of progress has been made, but not enough.  So we will not be pursuing reform legislation this year.”  


    Statement from Assembly Member Susan Talamantes Eggman, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee:        
    “Over the last few months there has been significant progress in narrowing the great divide among stakeholders over how to reform California’s dairy market.  I thank the Secretary and Senator Galgiani for their leadership in this effort and urge all stakeholders to build on the good work that has been done, so we can ensure the long-term stability and success of California’s dairy industry.”

    Statement from State Senator Cathleen Calgiani, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee:
    “Thank you to all the dairy producers, processors, Secretary Ross and Assembly Member Eggman for working tirelessly to find a solution to this prolonged and highly debated pricing issue.  I am committed to remain engaged until a solution is found that will establish a fair and equitable milk pricing system in California.”

    Aug. 27, 2014 CDFA press release



  • WUD’s Marsh talks about drought on Saturday radio show

    As California’s lakes, reservoirs, rivers and aquifers evaporate, Michael Olson’s Food Chain Radio show will take a look at “Who should get what little water is left to get?”  This Saturday, Aug. 23 at 9 a.m. Pacific, Michael Olson’s Food Chain Radio show hosts Michael Marsh, CEO of Western United Dairymen for a conversation about agriculture’s struggle to hydrate. Topics include a look at the severity of California’s drought; how California farmers have been forced to the end of the public’s water line; and to what extent can Golden State farmers continue to produce the nation’s food with so little water.   Listen live or recorded on your radio, computer or mobile device at http://metrofarm.com/



  • Fish and Game Commission declines to list tri-colored blackbirds

    The California Fish and Game Commission recently considered an emergency listing of the tricolored blackbird as a threatened or endangered species in response to a statewide survey showing its population has plummeted 44% since 2011. However, at its meeting held in San Diego, the Commission took no action after listening to statements supporting and opposing the listing.
     
    Western United Dairymen’s Director of Environmental Services Paul Sousa told the commissioners that there was no need for an emergency listing as the harvest season is past and the birds were in no immediate danger. Under the California Endangered Species Act, the commission may list a species under an emergency petition when there is an imminent danger. If approved, the birds would be fully protected for six months, after which time the listing may be renewed for another six months.
     
    The commissioners felt there was no need to take action on the emergency petition at the meeting, according to Sousa. It is anticipated that there may be a future request for a listing of the blackbirds as a threatened or endangered species under a normal petition.

    Aug. 15, 2014 WUD Friday Update



  • Secretary Ross to propose pricing legislation

    At the request of CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, producer and processor representatives were invited to a meeting recently with Deputy Secretary Jim Houston.  The meeting’s purpose was to review and discuss draft milk pricing legislation the Secretary would like to introduce and pass through the Legislature before lawmakers recess on August 31.

    The proposal appears to incorporate parts of different efforts offered by producers and processors in joint meetings of the Dairy Future Task Force and the Dairy Advisory Committee earlier this year.  The proposal would index California Class 4a and 4b regulated minimum prices to announced federal Class III and IV prices.  The proposal would also allow for manufacturing milk processors to enter into agreements to purchase milk outside of the pool.

    Deputy Secretary Houston requested that meeting participants forward suggested changes to the Secretary’s proposal prior to close of business on August 8, 2014.  Western United Dairymen’s board of directors met via conference call Thursday and forwarded proposed changes to WUD’s legal counsel for drafting.

    Aug. 8, 2014 WUD Friday Update



  • Win Michael Marsh's money at September 15 golf tourney

    Golfers will have an opportunity to win $100 when they go up against Western United Dairymen CEO Michael Marsh in a closest-to-the-hole competition at the 10th annual South Valley Fed-PAC Golf Tournament Monday, September 15, at the visalia golfVisalia Country Club. Marsh—noting the recent sharpening of his skills to the likes of pro golfers, Dustin Johnson and Jimmy Walker—said that competitors may need to card a hole-in-one if they hope to pocket his cash.  All proceeds from the popular event will benefit Western United Dairymen's federal political action committee.  

    The four-person scramble gets underway with a noon shotgun start. The day culminates with a dinner at which awards and prizes will be presented. The cost is $150 per player and includes green fees, golf cart, practice balls, lunch, tee prizes, refreshments and dinner. 

    Registration flyers will be included with next week’s Weekly Update and made available for download at www.WesternUnitedDairymen.com. Anyone interested in playing or sponsoring may also contact Heidi Savage at (209) 614-5625 or email hsavage@westernuniteddairymen.com.

    Aug. 8, 2014 WUD Weekly Update



  • WUD-hosted Margin Protection Program workshops underway

    A series of workshops hosted by Western United Dairymen on the new Margin Protection Program are underway. The first workshops were held last week and were well attended. Seven more workshops held in August and September throughout the WUD membership areas. The workshops are open to anyone interested: WUD members, nonmembers, their bankers and CPAs as well as allied industry members.

    Participation in the Margin Protection Program is voluntary. For those who choose to enroll, it should help prevent the type of catastrophic losses of equity that distressed so many dairy producers in 2009. The risk management program will help address margin volatility by targeting combinations of low milk prices and high feed costs. But as with any risk management tool, understanding the nuts and bolts is crucial to the program’s efficacy.

    The workshops will cover how the program works; how the program would have performed in previous years; what this means for California dairy producers; pros and cons of the program; available resources to producers and a question and answer period.

    The workshop schedule is:

    August 21: Ontario
    Doubletree
    10 a.m. - noon

    August 26: Riverdale
    Veterans Memorial Auditorium
    9:30-11:30 a.m.

    August 26: Fresno
    Fresno County Farm Bureau
    1:30-3:30 p.m.

    August 27: Bakersfield
    UCCE
    10 a.m.-noon

    September 2: Eureka

    Ag Center Auditorium
    5660 S. Broadway, Eureka
    2-4 p.m.

    September 3: Petaluma
    Two Rock Fire Hall
    9: 30-11:30 a.m.

    September 4: Merced
    Merced CO. Farm Bureau
    1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

    Aug. 15, 2014 WUD Friday Update

    The workshop schedule is:

    August 11: Orland

    Glenn County Farm Bureau

    10 a.m.-noon

     

    August 12: Hanford

    Farm Service Agency

    9: 30-11:30 a.m.

     

    August 12: Tulare

    UCCE

    1:30-3:30 p.m.

     

    August 14: Stockton

    Cabral Center

    1:30-3:30 p.m.

     

    August 18: Modesto

    Ag Center

    1:30-3:30 p.m.

     

    August 19: Merced County

    1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

    Location to be determined.

     

    August 21: Ontario

    Doubletree

    1-3 p.m.

     

    August 26: Riverdale

    Veterans Memorial Auditorium

    9:30-11:30 a.m.

     

    August 26: Fresno

    Fresno County Farm Bureau

    1:30-3:30 p.m.

     

    August 27: Bakersfield

    UCCE 

    10 a.m.-noon

     

    September 2: Ferndale

    UCCE

    1-3 p.m.

     

    September 3: Petaluma

    Two Rock Fire Hall

    9: 30-11:30 a.m.



  • Tillage Equipment Rental Program Boosts Profits, Soil Health in San Joaquin Valley

    By Cecilia Parsons on behalf of Sustainable Conservation

    The inaugural year of a conservation tillage equipment rental program started off in high gear.

    Dairy producers and other forage crop growers are taking advantage of a program that allows them to get their feet wet in conservation tillage and determine if the practice will fit into their operations.

    Conservation tillage is minimal disturbance of soil between harvest of one crop and planting of the next crop. The practice is much more common in the Midwest, but California growers, led by dairy producers double cropping forage crops, are rapidly adding conservation tillage acres.

    sustainable conservation ct rental program 1In order to introduce more growers to conservation tillage, Sustainable Conservation and California Ag Solutions collaborated on an equipment rental program that provides not only delivery and specialized tillage and planting tools, but agronomic support and advice. Sustainable Conservation's program representative, Ladi Asgill, said conservation tillage reduces the number of passes per field and allows growers to plant more acres in a smaller time frame using fewer implements and drivers. Earlier planting of corn silage can mean extra winter soil moisture for seedlings, Asgill said. Growers who have ground in conservation tillage for several years report the added advantages of improved soil tilth and water holding capacity.

    Strip tilling a recently harvested winter forage field in preparation for silage corn planting. Hanford, CA

    Due to the specialization of conservation tillage equipment, implements like strip tillers, finishers and precision planters are rarely available for rental. Growers who want to see how the equipment works in their operations can now sign up for the rental program and try conservation tillage before making a decision to purchase their own equipment.

    Rental costs per acre are $20 for strip tilling, $10 an acre for strip finishing, $5 an acre for border maker and $18 an acre for planter.

    Two Orthman 1 tRIPr strip tillers and a John Deere 1700 planter with specialized attachments have been on the road for the past month, delivered to farmers for conservation tillage and precision planting. The strip tillers prep the ground by working eight-inch wide strips of ground prior to planting. Using a GPS system on the tractor, the planter’s precision capabilities place the seed at the correct depth and spacing in the strips.

    Demand for the equipment has been higher than expected in this first year, limiting equipment availability to the northern San Joaquin Valley. Asgill said the partnership is considering adding more equipment and technical support to expand to Tulare and Kings counties.  

    Mikel Winemiller, customer account manager for California Ag Solutions and project field leader, provides support for growers who are making their first attempt with conservation tillage.  

    “We want to get them started right. With 10 years’ experience in conservation tillage we know what they need to do to succeed. The grower supplies the horsepower and operator and we are here to take them through the process.”

    Winemiller said they expect to see about 1,000 acres strip tilled and planted this season for 12 producers. The plan isn’t to strip till all of the producers’ forage crop acres, but to show them how the process works on one of their fields.

    The grower is responsible for prepping the field – a process that begins after the summer crop is harvested in the fall.

    “The big thing is to get the check spacing right and to match the borders with the equipment,” Winemiller said.

    sustainable conservation ct rental program 2A tour last summer of conservation tillage programs drew a number of interested growers. Sponsored by Sustainable Conservation, the tour highlighted growers who successfully transitioned their forage crop ground to conservation tillage and either customized tillage tools to fit their operations or purchased the tools. Winemiller said growers on the tour who are participating in the rental program “paid attention and set up their fields right for CT to work.” Preparation plus the opportunity to learn about equipment needs and timing of field work without the initial investment in equipment gives growers the opportunity to see if conservation tillage is right for them, he added.

    Application of “pop up” fertilizer and planting of silage corn in strip-tilled rows on the same day using GPS technology. Hanford, CA.

    Variations in soil types, irrigation practices and forage varieties determine what growers need to do to be successful with conservation tillage.

    For instance, achieving a consistent stand and maximum tonnage with corn silage is easier in sandy loam than in heavier ground. Growers can make adjustments on their tool bars, adding implements to break up clods and smooth the seedbed if needed.

    Helping growers be successful with conservation tillage crops will lead to more ground conversion, Winemiller believes. Once growers see the benefits – both in labor and fuel savings – they will be more likely to invest in their own equipment.

    Probing the soil in a field being planted to corn silage, Winemiller picked up a handful of soil and noted that the long-term benefits are in his hand.

    “The organic matter, the moisture holding capacity all encourages better root growth, which means less stress on the corn plants. The crop residue on the ground shades the soil and keeps the temperatures cooler, giving the corn a better start.”

    To reserve equipment, contact Winemiller at 209-626-6440 or mike@calagsolutions.com.



  • MILC program extension: Relief period to change start month authorized

    While all eyes have been focusing on the upcoming margin insurance program, a part of the 2014 Farm Bill extends the MILC (Milk Income Loss Contract) program for fiscal year 2014. Because the start of fiscal year 2014 was last fall and the Farm Bill was signed long after that, producers were not able to make start month selections like they used to. Therefore, there is a relief period that has just begun so that MILC program participants can change their start month if they wish to do so.

    During the authorized relief period, the production start month selected may be any month in fiscal year 2014 and start month selection provisions do not apply. After the authorized relief period, which ends May 30, 2014, all production start month changes must be made according to normal start month selection provisions (ie. changes must be made prior to the 14th of the month preceding the desired start month).

     Based on program payment calculations, there will be no payment issued for the period October-March. Based on forecasted milk and feed prices, there are no payments projected for the remainder of the year either. But changing your start month to later this summer may not be a bad idea – in case prices drop faster than expected, it may prove helpful to be able to change start month then.

    MILC contracts are automatically extended for fiscal year 2014, so there is no need for producers to re-enroll in the program. If no change is made, the production start month selected in fiscal year 2013 will carry over for 2014.

    April 25, 2014 WUD Friday Update



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