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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

Tag Archives: Dairy

The Sioux County Dairy Promotion Board’s annual dairy banquet will take place on Monday, June 26, 2017 at Western Christian High School in Hull. The meal will be served from 5:30-6:30 pm, and the Peterson Farm Brothers will take the stage at 7:00 pm. The Peterson Brothers are three brothers from central Kansas who make YouTube videos to promote agriculture. Their YouTube videos have received over 40 million views! The brothers all grew up and still work on their family farm alongside their parents and sister.

To get your tickets for the banquet, click here.


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Rock Valley Hay Auction for Monday, Mar 27, 2017

Receipts:  33 loads    Last Week:  26 loads    Year Ago:   28 Loads

Compared to last week:  Market was mostly steady.  Majority of offerings was bedding materials.

Alfalfa:  Good:  Large Squares, 3 loads 92.50-105.00.  Fair:  Large Squares, 2 loads 77.50-80.00; Large Rounds, 4 loads 65.00-80.00.

Grass:  Premium:  Large Rounds, 1 load 110.00.  Good:  Large Rounds, 5 loads 70.00-82.50. Fair:  Large Rounds, 4 loads 60.00-65.00.

Alfalfa/Grass:  Fair:  Large Squares, 1 load 65.00.

Straw:  Large Rounds, 6 loads 45.00-60.00.

Bean STraw:  Large Rounds, 1 load 40.00.

Corn Stalks:  Large Rounds, 6 load 40.00.

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Check out the great story of Fick’s Brown Swiss farm here in NW Iowa at:

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The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza (HPAI) of North American wild bird lineage in a commercial chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee. This is the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States this year. The flock of 73,500 is located within the Mississippi flyway.

Samples from the affected flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa

State officials quarantined the affected premises and birds on the property have been depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F kills bacteria and viruses.

The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.These virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

While no known links to dairy cattle are know, this is a good time for dairymen to review their biosecurity plans. In-depth information can be found at:

Avian influenza (AI) is caused by an influenza type A virus which can infect poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl) and is carried by free flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds. AI viruses are classified by a combination of two groups of proteins: hemagglutinin or “H” proteins, of which there are 16 (H1–H16), and neuraminidase or “N” proteins, of which there are 9 (N1–N9). Many different combinations of “H” and “N” proteins are possible. Each combination is considered a different subtype, and can be further broken down into different strains. AI viruses are further classified by their pathogenicity (low or high)- the ability of a particular virus strain to produce disease in domestic chickens.

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On Thursday, the first Senate Farm Bill Reauthorization hearing webinar was hosted in at the Sioux county Extension office. Those attending heard testimony and questions from a wide range of producers and industry representatives.

A consistent theme heard from the presenters was the continuation of the crop insurance, conservation programs (especially EQIP) and a need for more transparency in price determination for the beef industry.

Lynda Foster from Foster Dairy in Fort Scott Kansas voiced her concerns for the upcoming farm bill discussion focusing on three issues.

She noted, in 2014, Congress passed legislation establishing a new safety net under Title I for dairy farmers. During the legislative process, changes were made to the original dairy program designed by NMPF and other dairy leaders around the country. Unfortunately, the safety net, known as the Margin Protection Program for Dairy Producers (MPP), has failed to provide the level of protection envisioned in the original program.

She pointed out that in the first year, there farm signed up for the program and purchased supplemental coverage at the $6.00 level. And like others, since that first year they have only enrolled at the minimal $4 margin level. “…to be perfectly honest, Senator, is meaningless. MPP remains the right model for the future of our industry, but changes are needed if Congress wants to provide relevant tools to our sector…” she stated.  She continued noting that many dairy farmers participating in the MPP have become disenchanted with the program. In calendar year 2015, dairy farmers paid $70 million into the MPP program and received $730 thousand. In 2016, those figures were $20 million and $13 million, in a year where more program support was needed.

During the lead-up to the 2014 Farm Bill, she explained the process to develop a model for average feed costs for dairy cows. This process took nearly a year and included industry experts who understand the real cost of feeding cows. When it was presented to Congress, the formula, while respected as being accurate, was cut by 10 percent. This cut resulted in a skewed margin program, a flawed calculation for MPP and a much less useful program.

As a result of this change, a number of farmers who purchased higher coverage levels in 2015 did not opt to do so in 2016 because of the likelihood of no payment during times of need.

Since its inception, she pointed out that MPP has actually made the government a profit, equal to $66 million in fiscal year 2015 and $37 million in fiscal year 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

She continued by pointing out that unlike other sectors in agriculture, Congress arbitrarily limited the ability of dairy producers to use Risk Management Agency (RMA) products as well as Title I programs. Although all other commodities can use both RMA and Title I programs without any restrictions, dairy farmers cannot use the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle (LGM) program, which remains a popular tool for producers. Due to restrictions in MPP, a producer must decide at the beginning of the Farm Bill cycle whether to cover their milk under LGM or the MPP. This restriction leaves dairy farmers without the tools that other farmers have at their disposal regarding federal support for their operations.

Foster also stressed the importance of a dependable labor force to the dairy industry. She quoted a Texas A&M report stating 51 percent of all dairy farm workers are foreign born, and the farms that employ them account for 79 percent of the milk produced in the United States. She then asked, “How are dairies like mine, or any others, supposed to operate if we do not have access to a reliable workforce? In dairy, we cannot turn the cows off when there are not enough employees to do the job, we have to milk them.” She urged the Senators to act immediately to reform our immigration system in a manner that addresses agriculture’s needs for a legal and stable workforce.

One of her final points was how the dairy industry has come a long way on trade in the past several years. Our nation has gone from exporting dairy products valued at less than $1 billion in 2000 to exporting a record $7.1 billion in 2014, an increase of 625 percent. Fifteen years ago the USA was exporting roughly five percent of its milk production, now we are at three times that level, even as overall U.S. milk production has continued to grow. That means the equivalent of one day’s milk production each week from the entire U.S. dairy industry ultimately ends up overseas, making exports integral to the health of my farm and our dairy industry at large. It is critical that Congress protects the progress we have made as the Administration updates trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The complete testimony of each presented is available at:

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Hoard’s Dairyman dairy news reports that tight margins that ranged from $5.76 to $9.17 per hundredweight after feed costs were among the reasons that more dairy farmers exited the industry last year. Those business closings were only the fourth time in the past decade that 4 percent or more of dairy farmers called it quits.

As the industry continues to lose dairy farms, cow number remain robust as the national dairy herd reached a 20-year high of 9.328 million cows last year.

Given these two trends in recent USDA statistics, it goes without saying that dairy cows and farms continue to consolidate into clusters. When evaluating the top 10 dairy states as measured by total dairy farms, that group only lost 3.7 percent of its farms last year. Each state in that group also had 1,000 or more dairy farms. For the remaining 40 states, losses totaled a more brisk 4.9 percent.


As I have been traveling in NW Iowa, I’m seeing standing water in fields and am wondering what how unusual warm temperatures will effect the stands. ISUEO Agronomist Brian Lang send out this link- it has lots of good information:

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