DairyCast Industry

Economy Hurting Minnesota Dairies

Economic realities are hitting many 100 to 250 cow dairy herds in Winona county, Minnesota.

More than 100 dairy herds across the state folded between January and October of this year, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The number of herds in the county fell from 217 to 201 during the same nine-month stretch.

Many of these herd reductions or outright closings are due to the rising cost of feed.

The balance between feed cost and income has lingered below the optimum range for three years. The national ratio averaged 2.24 in September. The same ratio fluctuated between 1.45 and 2.42 in 2009.

A farmer can dispose of a herd by selling it off to other farmers - bit by bit if necessary - or by selling the entire herd to a group of co-ops that combine funds to pay for mass slaughter. Cooperatives Working Together holds auctions once or twice a year, when it has enough money to fund the buyouts.

Chipotle's Leason For Agriculture: Tell The Story

Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle, shares an insight that those in agriculture need to adopt: Facts are not exciting. Stories are.

I thought we were going to get customers excited by telling them there were no antibiotics in our meat or no growth hormones used to raise the animals or no RGBH in our cheese or sour cream. Well, that's not a very appetizing message.

How can agri-professionals adopt this? When thinking about sharing information with consumers, non-farmers, or the press, don't provide just facts. While they are true (they are facts, right?) what people always remember are the stories.

So now we have a marketing program that's going to start a dialogue about why better ingredients make for better-tasting and more healthful food.

Will There Be A Cheese Shortage For Your Holiday?

Class III Milk Futures

Will you have trouble finding the family holiday cheese ball? Probably not but it will cost you more. There are trends in the milk futures markets that are forcing cheese makers to lock in supplies into 2011.

“It looks like everybody decided to get coverage for 2011,” a trader in Chicago-based CME Group’s dairy complex said today. He expects milk prices to climb further in coming weeks.

Retail dairy products prices are expected to increase 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent next year, the largest estimated rise among all food categories, the USDA said earlier this week. The Consumer Price Index for all food is projected to rise 2 percent to 3 percent.

How Will $2 million Help Improve Food Safety?

food safety

H. Morgan Scott, K-State Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, Plans to develop models to evaluate cattle system interventions on antibiotic resistance.

"Our overall goal is to identify, evaluate and implement practical interventions for managing antibiotic resistance in beef and dairy cattle systems," Scott said. "We focus on the longstanding problem of resistance emergence, dissemination and persistence among enteric bacteria. If pathogenic bacteria resistant to antibiotics enter the food chain, treatment of humans can be complicated."

This research will involve researchers from the University of Guelph, Angelo State University, Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University, Cornell University, Colorado State University and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

What is the West Central Research and Outreach Center?

University of Minnesota's West Central Research and Outreach Center is a center whose goal is to disseminate knowledge and information, focusing on west central Minnesota. Orginally an agricultural experiment station, research has expanded to include studies of environmental quality and renewable energy. From an article in AgriNews, Brad Heins is new dairy scientist at WCROC

The center has 110 cows in a conventional grazing system and another 90 in organics. Besides Holsteins, the center has been crossbreeding cattle with Jerseys, Swedish Reds, Norwegian Reds, Mont Beliards and Normandes. One reason the Normandes are part of the breeding program is the high percentage of BB Capa Casein found in their milk. The BB is beneficial for cheese production, he said. Heins envisions the center one day having an a small cheese plant.

Of note are is a late calf weaning project, where a group of calves are weaned at 90 days in an organic system.

Since there aren't any organic milk replacers, they are monitoring the effectiveness of late weaning vs. early weaning.

What Ag Jobs Are On The Future-Jobs-O-Matic?

In this tight job market, Marketplace offers job seekers a tool to discover what types of positions are out there. Marketplace pulls the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. What does this mean? Marketplace is leveraging government data into a simpler discovery tool. Is it helpful?


The Future-Jobs-O-Matic! is your key to Careers of the Future. Find the job you have — or the job you want — and the Future-Jobs-O-Matic! will tell all. Give it a whirl!

Agricultural jobs: Agricultural Inspector, Agricultural Products Sorter, Agricultural Worker - Unfortunately the Marketplace tool misses much of the in depth information the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers. So dig deeper.

Deft Hand Required To Get Silage Piles Right

silage pile

A deft hand is needed to get the silage piles in the right form. From Modesto, CA, this article also shares with non-farmers what silage is, how it is harvested, and why it is used as feed for dairy cows.


Who knew that silage piles — those giant mounds of dairy feed covered with plastic sheeting — could be works of art?

A delicate touch helps when managing the piles, which can degrade if too much air gets inside them.

That's why Larry Pacheco tries to minimize the exposed surface when he removes some of the feed from a pile with a tractor.

Silage, which dairy farmers make by fermenting corn or other crops for a few weeks after harvesting, has become an important feed in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and elsewhere.

And it's another example of the sophisticated work behind the seemingly simple business of producing food.

North valley farmers produced about $212 million worth of silage last year, according to county crop reports.


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