Latest News & Views

Experts predict higher milk prices this year

By Leah Call
MAA
The current dairy pricing scenario was caused by a variety of factors, including an abundance of supply and a decrease in demand, which has led to perhaps the most challenging time ever for dairy farmers. But after four long years of low milk prices, experts predict 2019 will offer some relief.
“I’m forecasting 2019 milk prices may be $1.10 to $1.25 higher than 2018,” said Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “That will help a lot of farms, no question about it, but that is not enough for them to feel like they are restored from these last four years. They need a bigger milk price than that.” Read more here.

Kewaunee farmers make progress on water quality

LUXEMBURG, Wis. — Don Niles would’ve understood if the third year of the region’s farmer-led conservation group had been slow going in the quest to improve water quality.
“We can design it to tell a little story about the farm, the cover-crop concept, the buffering process or whatever we’re doing in this specific field,” Nysse said. “It gives more information to the individual walking by.
After all, dairy farmers are trying to manage with painfully low milk prices that are hitting bottom lines hard.  But that wasn’t the case.
“We’re very proud we had an active, energetic year despite the overall difficulties in the dairy economy right now. Members have been more than willing to step in and help with several research projects,” Niles, president of Peninsula Pride Farms who has a dairy in Casco, said at the group’s annual meeting Feb. 13. Read more here.

Industrial hemp market blooms

By Leah Call
MAA
Wisconsin’s industrial hemp program had a bountiful first year and its second year looks just as promising.
Wisconsin began an Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program in 2018 to study the growth and marketing of industrial hemp as authorized by the 2014 federal farm bill. In its first year, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) issued 247 permits for 135 growers on 1,850 field acres and 22 greenhouse acres. The state issued 100 hemp processing permits, 80 of which went to registered growers. Read more here.

Survey: Plant-based foods cause confusion among consumers

For MAA
MADISON, Wis. — In a marketplace increasingly crowded by plant-based imitation dairy products, the results of a new survey show that customers are confused about whether those products are indeed dairy foods and whether they carry the same nutritional value. The research evaluated three plant-based foods that mimic dairy cheese to understand if the packaging and descriptions are confusing. The survey, conducted by Ravel, was commissioned by Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA), Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, based in Wisconsin. The results were announced on Jan. 23 at the Dairy Strong Conference. Read more here.

Mobile potato info center gets new look

By MAA
The traveling billboard and mobile education unit for the Wisconsin potato industry has a new look.
The 37.5-foot RV that is appropriately called “The Wisconsin Spudmobile,” has a brand-new exterior wrap. The updated wrap continues to tell a “field to fork” story with an image of a Wisconsin potato field and medley of fresh red and golden potatoes across the bottom, and a prepared dish of the roasted red and golden potatoes seasoned with rosemary.
On the driver’s side, the Wisconsin potato field and medley continue with featured loaded baked russet potatoes as the prepared dish. Read more here.

Adding value vital for dairies

For MAA
When life gives you cow’s milk, make cheese curds. Or give tours. Or sell under someone else’s label. The name of the game in farming these days is value-added. And with all of the odds dairy farmers face, adding value is more than a game. “I always say that the difference between owning a farm and owning a cheese factory is that with a dairy farm, you milk the cows, and the next day a truck takes the milk away, and with a cheese factory, you invest all this time and stainless steel into the factory before you’ve ever sold a piece of cheese,” said Mark Crave, one of four brothers who own Crave Brothers Farm and Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo, Wis. “Then you start making cheese, sending out samples and hoping for orders.” Read more here.