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Dairy Defined

Author: National Milk Producers Federation

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National Milk Producers Federation
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Earth Day later this month is a natural opportunity to highlight dairy’s commitment to environmental stewardship, Nicole Ayache, NMPF’s senior director for sustainability initiatives and leader of Environmental Stewardship and Workforce Development for the National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Program, said in an NMPF podcast released today.  “Caring for our natural resources is every day for a dairy farmer,” she says. “There's a lot of inherent dedication to taking care of the environment, because it's how you live your life, and where you live your life.”Ayache discusses the structure of the FARM Program and how it has led achievements for the entire sector as dairy strives to achieve ambitious sustainability and emissions goals. 
Elinor “Elle” Purrier St. Pierre holds the U.S. record for fastest times in the women’s indoor mile and two-mile races. She’s also a dairy farmer, having grown up on a 40-cow operation in Vermont and currently living on one with her husband as she trains for a shot at the Tokyo Olympics.Those Olympics, like everything else, have been disrupted by COVID-19, which last year sent Purrier St. Pierre back to Vermont, away from her training partners at Team New Balance Boston and in need of a new approach to top-level preparation for some of the most important races of her life. “Up here I'm pretty by myself. So it was pretty tough, but I ironed out how to do it up here. I figured out that I needed to get the job done,” she said. “So I bought a lot of my own equipment, and I found new places to run, and once I got settled in, I'm so happy that I have this home to come home to and train here. And I do feel very grounded here.”Purrier St. Pierre also discusses how dairy has helped her own fitness, and how it’s a crucial part of an elite  diet. Purrier St. Pierre, who studied nutrition at the University of New Hampshire, says she couldn’t reach the heights she’s attained without it. “The first thing I do when I get done running is, I chug a glass of milk. And I just know everything in there is going to help me do better,” she said. “It's got the perfect ratio of carbs and protein, when you add the chocolate, and just so many vitamins and minerals. It's crazy what a great resource it is for athletes like me.”
An ebbing COVID-19 pandemic, an appreciation of the labor crisis in agriculture, and a heightened bipartisan desire for immigration reform all make 2021 a unique opportunity for progress in ensuring a secure dairy workforce if the moment is seized, NMPF Senior Director of Government Relations Claudia Larson says in a Dairy Defined podcast. “This window of opportunity, I think if we don't seize it, we're not entirely sure when it will open again,” Larson said. If people want to become involved, your voice will have an impact with your members of Congress.” The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bipartisan attempt to address ag labor needs, may reach the floor of the House of Representatives this week. Larson said support for the bill is important to build momentum in the Senate to reach its own agreement, noting that people who want to urge their own lawmakers to act can do so by becoming a Dairy Advocate here. 
Through commitments like the Net Zero Initiative and efforts like the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program, dairy farmers are well-positioned to be agricultural leaders in mitigating climate change, said Dr. Jamie Jonker, NMPF’s Vice President for Sustainability and Scientific Affairs. “We're producing more milk, we're having less greenhouse gas emissions overall, which means that the U.S. dairy sector is already the most efficient in the world,” said Jonker, who also serves as chairman of the International Dairy Federation’s Science Program Coordinating Committee. Still, farmers face regulatory and financial challenges in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the sustainability of their resource use, he said. “The biggest challenge is really the technology and financial side. If we're not able to have our dairy farmers afford to make changes in their operations, then they cannot put these technologies and best practices into practice on their farms.” 
Milk production is increasing faster than demand is recovering, making 2021 a challenging year for dairy farmers, said Peter Vitaliano, NMPF’s chief economist, in an NMPF podcast. “On balance, things are improving a little bit” in dairy demand, “but they're still falling short of the milk production rate of increase,” Vitaliano said. Still, bright spots remain for the medium- and longer-term dairy outlook. Demand for U.S. dairy exports is at record levels, and demand for dairy away from home should increase as the COVID-19 pandemic fades, he said. 
Governing in 2021 is difficult, with a narrowly divided Congress and a new administration facing significant challenges, said Paul Bleiberg, NMPF’s senior vice president for government relations, in an NMPF podcast. Still, policy progress for dairy is possible, especially given the sector’s reputation for bipartisan cooperation, he said. 
Newly released federal dietary guidelines will benefit dairy, even as work remains to be done, said Miquela Hanselman, NMPF’s regulatory affairs manager.“Dairy is in a good place,” Hanselman said. “Three servings of low-fat and non-fat dairy are continued to be recommended in the healthy U.S. and vegetarian diets, and dairy remained its own group. In addition, dairy was recognized as a source of under-consumed nutrients, which are also known as nutrients of public health concern.”Hanselman also discusses the need to incorporate up-to-date research on dairy in fats in the next round of guidelines and talks about their impact on encouraging the next generation of milk-drinkers. 
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts is leaving Congress after 40 years in January. The only person to lead both the House and Senate agriculture committees takes with him a wealth of wisdom in agriculture policy – but also holds optimism for agriculture’s ability to get things done in an environment of difficult challenges.“I would just say that I am very confident that the people who will be taking my place, they have a lot of experience,” Roberts said. “They're good folks. I think the same attempt, at least, with regards to making it bipartisan, will continue.”Roberts, who first came to Washington as a congressional staffer a half-century ago, also reflects on the two farm bills he led -- 1996’s Freedom to Farm law and the 2018 bill -- as well as one area where he wished he could have done more: his leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee during the Iraq War. He also said he doesn’t consider his career to be over – without revealing plans, he said that when it comes to farm policy, “I intend to have my finger in the pie somewhere.”
Forecasts for prices and politics both make signup for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program a compelling risk-management choice for 2021, National Milk Producers Federation Senior Vice President for Member Services & Strategic Initiatives Chris Galen says.“Congress is still trying to pass another stimulus bill to help all walks of life in our society and our economy and hopefully agriculture will be part of that, but right now there aren't any serious negotiations. Who knows if that can will be kicked into 2021?” Galen said. “What we do know is that the DMC program is forecast to make payments in the first part of 2021. So you've got to go with what you know.”
James Weber is learning as he goes along – but the coronavirus pandemic, disrupted international markets, shifting technology and turbulent political debates make life as a beginning dairy farmer challenging, as Weber, explains.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted lives transformed everything from schooling and shopping habits to … cheese contests. It’s not something most people think about, but in a time of social distancing and curtailed travel, how exactly does one gather, sample, compare and celebrate world-class cheeses, virtually? 
The extreme disruptions and financial upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have created real struggles for dairy producers – and the industry has responded by rising to an unprecedented occasion, said Randy Mooney, chairman of the National Milk Producers Federation, to delegates at the organization’s first-ever virtual annual meeting. 
On National Farmer’s Day, dairy farmer Suzanne Vold is highlighting dairy’s commitments to the environment and a net-zero future, noting that her colleagues are already effective stewards and are committed to doing more.
On National Farmer’s Day, dairy farmer Suzanne Vold is highlighting dairy’s commitments to the environment and a net-zero future, noting that her colleagues are already effective stewards and are committed to doing more. 
The Dairy Margin Coverage program has worked well for the farmers who signed up for it, while other federal programs ranging from emergency loans to disaster payments have helped keep dairy farms afloat during the coronavirus crisis, said Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-PA.
Election-year politics is complicating efforts to push additional agriculture aid through Congress, but already-authorized spending may allow USDA to aid dairy farmers facing unstable roller-coaster prices and shifting supply chains, said Paul Bleiberg, NMPF’s vice president for government relations, in an NMPF podcast.
The coronavirus crisis is far from over, but the food supply chain has adapted effectively even as challenges remain,  said Clay Detlefsen, chief counsel for the National Milk Producers Federation and the private-sector chair of the Food and Agricultural Sector Coordinating Council, in an NMPF podcast.
Dairy prices that plunged, then skyrocketed, have settled – for a moment. But volatility should be expected as long as COVID-19 makes its way through the economy, said Peter Vitaliano, chief economist for NMPF.
Public comments on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee’s scientific report may be submitted until Aug. 13. It’s a great time for dairy voices to be heard, said Miquela Hanselman, NMPF’s manager for regulatory affairs.
The Dairy Margin Coverage Program and with other federal risk management programs have served farmers well during the coronavirus crisis and will continue to offer effective aid, as long as farmers participate, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said. “Dairy now has, I think, the best safety net of any part of agriculture, especially for small dairy farmers,” said Peterson, a Democrat from Minnesota, in the podcast released today. “They, no doubt, have the best safety net that there is right now, if they utilize it.”
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