By LEE MIELKE

For the Capital Press

A slowdown in milk production is leading to the recovery of milk prices, says Bob Cropp, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He called the recovery a slow process.

"With a loss in the export market, particularly in powder and of course cheese and butter, with butter being way down, we've had to get milk production down," Cropp said. He pointed out that August output was only down 0.2 percent, but he believes that some of the strength in the market "might be just the fact that milk production is down seasonally and fluid sales are up a little bit."

Cropp remains optimistic that the federal order Class III price will rise to around $14 by the end of the year. He believes the market is going to be stronger than what some believe and said, "I think the futures are a little pessimistic in the long term. Production coming down and cow numbers declining, there will be some signs of improvement."

New program

A new FARM animal well-being program aims to bolster consumer trust in the U.S. dairy industry. FARM stands for Farmers Assuring Responsible Management.

The National Milk Producers Federation announced the initiative's guidelines and principles last year at World Dairy Expo in Madison. A news conference was held to discuss how the industry is going to demonstrate to customers and consumers that dairy animals are being well cared for.

A comprehensive animal care resource manual was unveiled, along with a quick reference user guide and other materials. Those items will be used to help educate farmers, processors, retailers and consumers about the best practices for animal care.

"We will use these materials to reach out to the entire marketing chain, particularly for those companies that may want to demonstrate their animal care commitment," said NMPF's Chris Galen. He called it a corroboration of what most dairy producers are already doing

"We are in an environment where food production is increasingly under the spotlight, and there is concern from consumers where food comes from, who processes it and who produces it," he said.

Producers can expect an on-farm evaluation process next year by the farms and marketing entities who choose to take part. A trained veterinarian, extension educator or a co-op field staff person will go through the guidelines on the farm. In 2011, a third-party verification will take place, where a small sampling of farms will be visited by someone who's not affiliated with the farm to demonstrate that the program is working.

"Those are things that still have to come," Galen said. "And this week's unveiling was a huge step in the National Dairy FARM program."

Lee Mielke is a syndicated columnist and farm broadcaster based in Lynden, Wash. For more Dairyline go to www.capitalpress.com and click on "Dairy."

 

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