The ramifications of banning chocolate milk

In an effort to fight childhood obesity, schools across the country have taken chocolate milk off the school lunch menu. A new study from Cornell University finds that may not have been a good idea.

The study looked at 11 elementary schools in one Oregon school district which banned flavored milk from the cafeteria. They used data from the National School Lunch Program to determine what happened.

The results: Total daily milk sales declined nearly 10 percent. While white milk use increased, nearly 30 percent of it was thrown away. Eliminating chocolate milk was also linked to nearly 7 percent fewer students eating school lunches.

The study goes on to state on a nation-wide basis, when chocolate milk is offered, nearly 78 percent of all students took milk, once chocolate was removed 71 percent took milk.

The researchers conclude that while removing chocolate milk from school cafeterias may appear to have the immediate benefit of reducing sugar and calorie consumption, calcium and protein consumption were also reduced.

The study; A Pilot Study Evaluating the Cafeteria Consequences of Eliminating Flavored Milk, was funded by the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs and is published on-line on the PLOS ONE website found here.


Dairy markets rebound

A bit of a bounce in the cash cheese market ahead of the three-day weekend. Cash barrels increased 7 cents while blocks added 5.75 cents.  No trading on Friday in observance of Good Friday, the markets will reopen on Monday.

For the week, cash cheese barrels up 17.75 cents, blocks up 11 cents, butter down 8 cents while nonfat dry milk lost 4.25 cents. Class III futures for April increased 19 cents, May up 64 cents, June increased 32 cents and October added 12 cents.

Dairy Market News says even with the high milk prices, processors in the Midwest are seeing an increase in the number of retirements in small to medium-sized producers. Some may be running out of forage but the bigger factor seems to be with great cow, heifer and even slaughter cow prices…this is a good time to sell-out. Dairy cow slaughter for the week ending March 29th was 57,700 head down 5,300 from the same week a year ago.

Milk production is up from the Northeast to the Southeast, Florida exported 100 loads this week.


Looks like cash cheese has turned around

After steadily declining for a couple of weeks, prices have been increasing in the cash cheese market this week. Barrels went from $2.25 on April 2nd to $2.075 by April 10. They are now back up to $2.1875. Blocks went from $2.385 down to $2.165 and back up to $2.2225 during the same period.

National Dairy Product Sales Report for the week ending April 12: cheddar cheese blocks increased 1.6 cents to average $2.41 per pound. Blocks slipped 1.5 cents from the previous week to average $2.34. Cash butter increased 2.5 cents to $1.98, nonfat dry milk decreased 5.3 cents to $2 per pound while dry whey increased 0.1 cents to 67.2 cents per pound.

While milk production is increasing in the lower Midwest, the lingering winter is hindering production in Wisconsin and Michigan. More snow and cold weather across the Great Lakes this week means spring and summer will be delayed and so will the hay crop. Last year’s forage is of poor quality but producers will have to rely upon that for a little longer.

Even though cheese prices have backed-off a little they remain high, Dairy Market News says order patterns and order volume received by many cheese manufacturers leads them to believe that higher prices have been accepted as reality for the time being.

Export business remains strong; Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 28 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 5.340 million pounds of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheeses, 2.260 million pounds of 82% butter and 837,757 pounds of whole milk powder to customers in Asia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the South Pacific. The product will be delivered April through October 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 46.132 million pounds of cheese, 34.163 million pounds of butter and 4.204 million pounds of whole milk powder to 29 countries on six continents.


Global dairy demand will grow

The U.K. research firm ReportBuyer says; “The expansion of the global dairy product industry is forecast to reach 8.8% per year in the coming years. Between 2007 and 2013 the market increased with an average annual growth of 5.5%.”

The industry report package Dairy Product Markets in the World to 2018 – Market Size, Trends, and Forecasts says China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States represent the largest dairy product markets while the strongest annual growth is predicted to occur in Egypt (15.6%), United States (14.2%), Morocco (13.8%), Tanzania (13.2%), and India (13.1%).

The report includes data on current and projected dairy demand in 74 countries.


Down week for dairy

After sliding all week, cash cheese prices gained a half-cent each on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Friday. Nonfat dry milk increased three-quarter cent and the April, May and June Class III contracts increased as well. The rest of the 2014 Class III contracts were lower.

For the week, cash cheese barrels lost 14.5 cents, blocks fell 16 cents, butter held steady and nonfat dry milk lost 9 cents per pound. Class III for April increased 8 cents, May added 54 cents, June up 49 cents while October lost 31 cents.

Overall milk production is increasing slightly across much of the United States as the weather has become more comfortable for cows. The one exception is in Arizona where it has been hot. Additional pressure on prices from the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates on Wednesday which raised projected U.S. milk production for the year citing strong prices which will prompt farmers to add cows and push for more production. On the “plus” side, they also raised the projected prices for cheese, butter and milk.

USDA reports 4 billion pounds of packaged fluid milk products were sold in the U.S. in February, down 2.1 percent compared to February of last year. Conventional milk sales were down 3 percent while organic fluid milk sales were up 18.5 percent from a year ago.



Milk production estimate raised

The latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates raised the 2014 milk production projections as strong prices are expected to encourage farmers to add more cows and push them for more production per cow. Total milk production is now projected to be 206.1 billion pounds this year, up 400 million from last month’s estimate. If realized it would be nearly 5 billion pounds above last year’s production.

Thanks to that continued strong demand, the cheese price estimate was raised 11.5 to 12.5 cents pegged at between $1.985 and $2.035 per pound this year. The butter price is expected to run between $1.76 and $1.84 this year, a 14.5 to 15.5 cent increase over last month’s estimate. Dry whey increased 3.5 cents to 61.5 to 64.5 cents per pound while the nonfat dry milk price range narrowed a bit, now expected to be between $1.83 and $1.87 per pound this year.

The higher product prices translate into higher milk price projections, Class III is now estimated to range between $20.40 and $20.90 this year, up 35 to 45 cents from last month’s estimate. Class IV was raised 60 to 70 cents projected at $21.05 to $21.65 and the all milk price is pegged at $22.55 to $23.05 up $1.05 to $1.15 compared to the March estimates.

Cash cheese prices continued to decline on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday. Barrels slipped 7.5 cents and blocks declined 7.75 cents per pound. Since last Thursday, barrels have lost 15.5 cents and blocks have dropped 23.5 cents per pound. Dairy Market News describes the cheese market as weak: Easter and Passover needs are filled so buyers have backed-off a bit, waiting to see how far prices will decline.

National Dairy Products Sales Report for the week ending April 5: cheddar cheese blocks increased 5.4 cents to average $2.40 per pound. Barrels increased 3.7 cents to $2.36. Butter was up 7.2 cents from the previous week at $1.97, nonfat dry milk slipped 2.1 cents to $2.05 and dry whey increased 0.4 cents to 67.1 cents per pound.

Read the full WASDE report here:


Dairy farmers part of national milk drive

“The Great American Milk Drive” is making it easier to give a gallon of milk to local food banks. Stephanie Cundith, a registered dietitian with the Midwest Dairy Council, says it’s a group effort, “This is a program made possible by the nation’s milk companies and dairy farmers in partnership with Feeding America to make it easy to give a gallon of nutrient-rich milk to local food banks in peoples’ communities.”

Cundith tells Brownfield Ag News that milk is UNDER-donated, “It’s the number-one requested item yet, on average, families that go to Feeding America food banks receive only one gallon or less per person every year.”

Actual milk isn’t donated through the Milk Drive. Monetary donations are turned into vouchers for food bank recipients to redeem at stores. Donations are made by texting “Milk” to 27722 or by going on line to Milk donations stay in the donor’s local area.

Milk prices level-off

The March base milk prices indicate things may have topped-out in the dairy markets. Class II base for March production is $24.22 per hundredweight up 49 cents from February and $5.40 above a year ago. The Class III base for March is $23.33, down 2 cents from February and the first decline in the Class III base since last July. The price is $6.40 above a year ago. The Class IV base is up 20 cents on the month to $23.66, $5.91 above March of 2013.

Component prices by the pound for March: butterfat $2.0472; protein $4.5172; nonfat solids $1.9027; other solids $0.47.


Nutrition, lameness cut into milk production

Increasing milk production per cow could involve simply improving the processing of corn silage. Mike Hutjens, retired University of Illinois dairy specialist, says that if corn kernels in the silage are not adequately broken, the cow won’t absorb enough starch. Hutjens recommends testing manure samples to see how much starch is passing through the cow.

“If it’s less than three percent, hurray for you; if it’s over five percent, we’ve got a problem, and the question now is can you correct it,” Hutjens told Brownfield Ag News. “If it’s [the result of] unprocessed corn silage, you can’t do much this year, but next year you get to process it again and get it right.”

Additionally, Hutjens says lameness in cows is more frequent than it should be. On a score of one to five, he says a judgment can be made about how production is affected by an animal’s degree of difficulty in getting around.

“A score three cow is one that is not lame, but in fact is just showing the characteristics of the bobbing head, the shorter gait; she’ll give up five percent of the milk [production],” says Hutjens. “Normally we’d like to see less than ten percent of the cows score a three or higher, and some of the work in Minnesota says that’s going to be in the high teens.”

Some animal rights advocacy groups – Hutjens specifically cites PETA –push for that number to be closer to only one percent, but Hutjens says that’s almost unattainable unless cows are pasture fed.

Hutjens’ talk to Missouri dairy farmers was about striving for five more pounds of milk production per cow.

AUDIO: Mike Hutjens (5 min. MP3)

Value-add grants prioritized for veterans

U.S. military veterans are urged to apply for USDA value-added producer grants. Traci Bruckner, with the Center for Rural Affairs, says those folks have also been given top priority for the matching funds program, “There’s a priority for beginning farmers and ranchers as well as small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers but now the new Farm Bill made a change – and we were part of encouraging this change – where there’s also now a priority for (military) veteran farmers and ranchers.”

She tells Brownfield Ag News that past value-added grants have gone to producers for expanding grass fed beef markets, improving processing plants, and more, “In South Dakota, there was a farmer that did some high-value grains that are grown organically. In Nebraska, here, it helped a kid who grew pumpkins for a 4-H project and that kid decided he wanted to turn that into a business opportunity. So, he started processing the pumpkin and selling the pureed pumpkin for people for pies and such like that and he got a value-added grant to help him do that.”

The deadline for this round of value-added producer grants was extended to Tuesday, April 8th.

Interview with Traci Bruckner (7:00 mp3)