While we all continue to live in a world of uncertainty and overabundance of bad news, I would like to switch gears and talk about some of the positive things that enhance the goals of National Farmers Organization. Through some difficult times, our staff has endured and continues to sign up production. Our Dairy Division is presently handling more milk than at any time in the last 20 years. This has been accomplished in spite of all of the sellouts within the dairy industry. Our Northeast Dairy Region continues to be the shining star for growth. I am also pleased to announce our new venture with Organic Valley in Washington and Oregon. Those two states are the foundation for our new Northwest Dairy Region and developments have been progressing very well as we see solid growth. You can read details on page three. National Farmers Livestock Division and Nexus Marketing successfully navigated the early months of the pandemic and are now growing once more. Our newest marketing center in Farley, Iowa, has already outgrown its facility and is exploring expansion options to handle even more cattle producers. Your grain staff is working hard and has many success stories to share. I am also pleased to announce that Steve Armour is our latest addition and will be marketing conventional grain for our members in our North Region. See the article on Armour on page two. You can also read about one of our grain producers in Corning, Kansas, on pages four and five. The Rempe family works with Theresa Seiler, who advises them how to navigate the choppy waters of current grain markets. Our organic grain marketing program, NForganics, has also seen tremendous growth this past year. A big thank you to our procurement teams and leaders across the country. Because of the pandemic, many of our staff members continue to work from home, and they are doing a great job fielding member calls and getting the important business done on behalf of our customers. In spite of all of the challenges that everyone has faced these past several months, it appears 2020 will be one of our best years for adding production. There has been much said in recent months about our nation’s essential workers. They are all equally important and need our full support. With that said, there is another group of essential workers that never receive enough credit, and that is our nation’s farmers and ranchers, the producers of our food and fiber, and where it all begins. The pandemic has had a grave effect on market access for many producers, not to mention the effect on farm-gate prices. They continue to farm on through some very difficult situations and not only need a huge thank you, but also more importantly, a fair price for what they produce. We are all waiting for the storm clouds to lift. Yes, we can all use some sunshine and a lot of good news. Keep the faith and together we can make a difference. Stay safe and healthy.
Convene ‘21 Set For the Quad Cities, Iowa Feb. 9-10 The Isle Hotel & Casino in the Quad Cities, Iowa, is scheduled for National Farmers winter meeting next February. “COVID-19 has thrown a monkey wrench into our meeting plans, because of the unknowns,” said National Farmers Director of Communications Perry Garner. “At this time, we are proceeding with the in-person meeting members expect, but are also working on making Convene ‘21 available to farmers online, as an alternative.” Convene ’21 is just two days long, with a special member tour of the John Deere factory floor and the John Deere Pavilion on Monday, Feb. 8, the day before Convene ’21 starts. A national board meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 8. The newly re-vamped schedule calls for legislative policy resolutions, arrangements, election and tally and committee meetings taking place Tuesday morning Feb. 9, beginning at 7:30 a.m. The general session begins at 10:00 a.m. Garner is researching additional options in case an in-person meeting becomes impossible because of the pandemic. A completely virtual meeting could be an option. Isle Casino Hotel® Bettendorf is conveniently located off the I-74 in downtown Bettendorf. The venue is just minutes away from I-80 and I-88. Be sure to register now.
Northern Grain Region Has New Marketing Rep
Steve Pierson (in red shirt) with his family on the farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Pierson helped National Farmers Dairy Division establish its new Northwest Region.
Farmers help farmers. That’s the standard, the ag ethic, in fact. Because of that, in January, when National Farmers leaders saw an opportunity to help Pacific Northwest Organic Valley dairy farmers, they proposed handling their milk. The offer sparked conversations and planning through February. Then the first farm in that part of the country signed on with National Farmers as its milk handler March 1, and the vision of the Northwest Dairy Region became reality. For National Farmers, Pam Riesgraf, national dairy marketing specialist, has spearheaded the project, talking with farmers and working with Organic Valley Board Member Steve Pierson, an Oregon dairy producer. Riesgraf said the plan was for her to visit the region and hold meetings, but when COVID-19 rolled into the U.S., that changed. Instead, in March, Riesgraf and Pierson hosted conference calls with farmers, and they introduced them to what National Farmers is, explained the business model and gave them an opportunity to become acquainted with Riesgraf. “The producers consider Organic Valley to be their co-op, and it presented a good opportunity for them to understand in the marketing of their milk what the handler does versus the role of processor,” Pierson said. The previous handler understood that the farmers had to make the best decision for their operations, and made a smooth transition possible. Riesgraf appreciated the questions and needs of the farmers. “The farmers knew about National Farmers’ success as a leading handler for Organic Valley, and that had a lot of I N N S S U U R R A A N N C C E E comfort in it,” Riesgraf said. “The first farmer’s anniversary date was March 1, so we had to quickly get that farmer rolled into National Farmers so they wouldn’t be with the previous handler another year,” Riesgraf said. The process of moving this farmer over to National Farmers helped define and refine the process for all the ices and NFO Crop Insurance market and and NFO Crop Insurance to to market and lsFarmers marketing services producers to come – 31 as of July 1, and 9.7 million pounds of help you protect your ﬁnancial future. arket smart and protect your financial future. p you protect your future. milk perﬁnancial month. By the end of 2020, the number will climb to INSURANCE PRODUCTS OFFERED RANCE PRODUCTS OFFERED 40 producers and about 11 million pounds of milk monthly. GRIP - HRO GRIP - HRO Group Risk Income Group Risk Income Protection with Harvest Protection with Harvest Revenue Option is a Revenue Option is a county-based revenue county-based revenue insurance product that insurance product that pays the producer in the pays the producer in the event the county average event the county average per-acre revenue falls per-acre revenue falls below the trigger below the trigger revenue level. GRIPrevenue level. GRIP-
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Pierson described National Farmers President Paul Olson and Dairy Division Director Brad Rach as very pro-farmer. “They want what’s best for the farmers, and that was evident in my meetings with them,” he said. The new dairy producers and National Farmers members all operate in Washington and Oregon, on the western side of both states. Riesgraf’s experience with the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance federal laws was important, while managing Washington’s and Oregon’s dairy regulations was new, and necessary. Riesgraf also coordinated with the state department of agriculture to receive milk handler Bulk Tank Unit licenses. Organic Valley will run payroll and manage milk movement. National Farmers will provide the handling service, which includes milk quality inspections, inspections for Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (known as the FARM program), Interstate Milk Shippers and state inspections, water testing and any state regulation follow-up. National Farmers will also work closely with haulers and assist them. “Organic Valley has had a great relationship with National Farmers over the years. Now it’s moving to the Northwest,” Pierson said. “At the end of the day, it will give an opportunity to significantly help farmers in the Northwest.” “I want to thank Steve Pierson and Organic Valley for the opportunity to serve as the milk handler in our new Northwest Dairy Region,” Olson said. “The Pacific Northwest population has grown in recent years, and I’m proud we can help dairy farms supply milk to people there.” The dairies are all family-farm operations, Riesgraf said. “They’re a nice group of farmers, professional. I have a lot of respect for them. They maintain good milk quality, as well as farm conditions.” Next, Rach and Riesgraf will focus on hiring a field representative for the producers in that region. For National Farmers, leaders will explore options in non-GMO or conventional markets to see if there is opportunity to have a stronger foothold in the region. “It’s a good move to help the farmers and be more nationwide,” Riesgraf said.
Cattle Numbers Will Become Short, Markets Will Take Off I read an article at the end of July that said cattle feeding margins were slowly improving to a loss as of July 24 of $141. Further, it said packer profits were estimated at $302. That’s a $443 swing. And not in the cattleman’s favor. Cattle feeder closeouts for the same week a year ago came in at a $49 profit while packer margins were $150 per head profit. That’s a $101 swing. Listening to the so-called cattle experts is like listening to the news about COVID-19. You’re better off turning off your cell phone newsfeeds and TV and radio receivers. It’s just one contradiction after another. Cattle numbers will become short. We estimate they will get tighter by the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth quarter, and into 2021. Further, producers have not been retaining heifers the last two or three years. A large percentage of heifers went to slaughter during that time and it’s going to show up in the lack of overall numbers. Thankfully, the CME is rebounding somewhat. On June 15, August opened around $94 and August 4 hit $103. October and April prices back in mid-June were around $98 and $109 respectively, and hit $108 and $116 August 4. Markets are moving in the right direction; we just need another 30 days of limit-up moves. I know these last four months have been agonizing. Low cash prices and the inability to contract at a profit means producers are holding cattle. It’s truly been miserable. But the good news is, things are turning around. I’ve told feeders who have been selling into this pandemic the last few months, not to base the loads they sold recently on the last year. Most had cattle contracted at decent levels and these under-valued cattle are a real kick, but don’t base the whole year on COVID-19 developments.
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National Farmers Dairy Staff Help Those In Need With Milk, Cheese, and Other Milk Products The pandemic continues to harshly impact people and businesses around the globe, and National Farmers staff have stepped up to help dairy farmers and those less fortunate. Dairy Operations Director Dave Kaseno coordinated the effort, modeled after the two-year old National Farmers home office program that enables employees to withhold a donation from each paycheck. The funds are used to purchase dairy products for those in need. “I spoke with our regional dairy staff members about the idea and they were very receptive, because they feel fortunate to be able to work full-time during this pandemic, and wanted to honor dairy farmers and give back to the consumers of dairy products who have found themselves in need,” said Kaseno. Jennifer Dilley, administrative assistant for the Upper Midwest Dairy Region Spring Green dairy office named the River Valley Backpack Program as the recipient for her region’s donations. “Arena, Spring Green, Lone Rock and Plain are all part of our school district and National Farmers milk is processed through Arena Cheese, so our region’s donation was able to provide cheese curds to 60 families,” Dilley said. June 2, the Great Lakes Gulf Division dairy staff made a $600 donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio. Second Harvest is a regional nonprofit organization, dedicated to providing nutritious food to those less fortunate. Becky Bardsley, donor relations coordinator of Second Harvest of North Central Ohio, thanked the National Farmers staff and pledged their cash donation would be strictly used for milk, cheese and butter. Some substantial product donations were made in Twin Cities, Minnesota to FOCUS House. Field Representative Steve Hackenbracht, (third The Fellowship of Orthodox Chris- from left), with Second Harvest representatives. tians United to Serve reaches out to low-income communities there. Kaseno teamed with Jim Heinen to coordinate that region’s donation with Gibbsville Cheese, Gibbsville, Wisconsin. “FOCUS has a donation percentage rate in the 90th percentile, which means more than 90 percent of donations they receive go directly to those in need,” Kaseno emphasized. I am especially proud of National Farmers and I believe this project inspires staff member teamwork and motivates people.
Operations director Kaseno to Retire
Market Change Presents New Opportunities
By Dave Kaseno When I began working for National Farmers in 1972, we were uniting most local bargaining groups into a nationally coordinated structure. Going national gave us the clout we needed to impact dairy price levels positively for dairy producers. I am confident the structure we built and the growth we had helped maintain sustainable prices for family farmers. It is said for every action there is a reaction, and while we were using strategies to make things better for dairymen, the processing industry was rapidly consolidating to build market clout. The processing industry players successfully changed the pricing mechanisms in the Federal Orders from competitively driven to a system of end-product pricing. With that single move, they were able to control the pricing structure. Then, they joined forces to eliminate barriers for mega dairies. Consumer concerns about who was producing their food and how it was being produced led to opportunities for some family farmers, though. Certified organic, non-GMO and other designated product sectors have now gained a portion of the total dairy product market share. Since 2002, the number of licensed dairy herds in the country fell by more than one-half. Meanwhile, investor-owned mega-dairies have been increasing in numbers in regions across the country. Dairymen who are losing their market and those who don’t like this trend are driving National Farmers growth. In some cases, new members are joining us as one group. Our challenge now, is to find secure markets. There are some processors who are concerned about market domination by a few large companies, because they appreciate conducting business with family-sized farms. And National Farmers is stepping-up to provide quality milk to them. We have to continue to pursue our goal of Federal Order reform that will be fair for all sizes of producers. I am taking a step back this month. I intend to be available to assist the organization when needed. I want to stay involved in bringing about a system that keeps families farming. Please accept my thanks for your friendship and support through the years. Let’s remain connected and continue fighting to make conditions better for farmily-sized farmers.
Dairy Producers Should Be Allowed to Vote Individually on Federal Milk Marketing Order Reform National Farmers Organization dairy leaders say it’s time for tion issued its priorities report for Federal Milk Marketing Order the elimination of bloc voting by co-ops, when it Reform. They also endorsed giving farmers the comes to Federal Milk Marketing Order hearings. opportunity to cast individual votes during the Currently, only dairy farmers who are independent FMMO ballot casting process. and not members of cooperatives may cast individ“The structure of the dairy industry has ual ballots. changed dramatically since I started milking “I believe dairy farmers deserve the chance to cows in the 1960s, and real, positive change have their individual voices clearly represented begins with farmers’ individual votes tallied on on dairy matters, especially as it relates to federal the important matters of Federal Order Reform,” milk marketing order reform,” said National Farmers Olson said. President Paul Olson. The rapid consolidation of buyers has acNational Farmers leaders recommend bloc voting companied the development of mega-dairies be eliminated relating to activities covered under in several states across the country. National the Capper-Volstead Act, governmental referenFarmers is advancing a dairy structure overhaul dums, Federal Milk Marketing Order reform issues plan that calls for one federal milk market order President Paul Olson and agricultural promotion plans. and a two-tier pricing plan. On July 28, the American Farm Bureau Federa-
National Farmers is an agricultural marketing organization for the nation's farmers and ranchers. Specializing in conventional and organic d...
Published on Sep 8, 2020
National Farmers is an agricultural marketing organization for the nation's farmers and ranchers. Specializing in conventional and organic d...