As dairy industry reels, new film details one family’s struggle to make it work

“Farmsteaders” is a new documentary that tells the story of Celeste and Nick Nolan and their four young children, who run Laurel Valley Creamery in southeastern Ohio. The 110-acre dairy farm belonged to Nick’s grandfather, who died in an accident on the farm in 1994. In the years since, agriculture has continued to move away from small operations like the Nolans’ to the sprawling industrial farms that dominate today. The dairy industry, in particular, has been decimated by consolidation, resulting in the collapse of family farms and a spate of suicides as farmers become increasingly desperate. In 2001, Celeste and Nick moved to the farm to raise their kids. They hobby-farmed for a few years, but when Nick lost his job they began farming full-time, turning to cheesemaking to sustain the operation.(No paywall)

Pizza Hut adds more cheese to help offset dairy glut

Pizza Hut says it will add 25 percent more cheese to its personal pizzas as part of a deal with the administrators of the dairy checkoff. The deal comes as dairy farmers are facing national overproduction of milk and falling prices.

Government agents are in the cheese business

In the midst of a national cheese glut, a government-sponsored marketing group called Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) is partnering with fast-food restaurants to encourage Americans to eat more cheese. Last year, farmers poured out 50 million gallons of milk because prices and demand were so low. As dairy consumption has dropped, DMI, which was behind the popular “Got Milk?” campaign, now spends much of its time sending experts into the secret product-creation rooms of chains like Burger King, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Wendy’s.

Making a living by making cheese on the farm

With 15 Swiss and Normandy milk cows, central Iowa dairy farmer Kevin Dietzel is a small operator with a business plan — "add value to that milk by making cheese" — aimed at the growing demand for upscale local foods, says Harvest Public Media. "We have to do something that's a little bit more original and is also going to be worth that money," says Dietzel, who makes small batches of cheese on the farm.

Worth a look

A roundup of some noteworthy stories from the last few days.

World food prices tick upward for third month in a row

Sharply higher prices for cheese, butter and sugar pushed up the FAO Food Price Index by 0.7 percent, continuing an unbroken rise from July. The index, which tracks prices for five groups of foods, has been on the rise throughout this year and is now 9 percent higher than one year ago.

USDA to buy $20 million worth of cheese to help dairy industry

The USDA said it plans to buy about 11 million pounds of cheese for food banks and pantries across the nation, reducing a cheese surplus that is at its highest level in 30 years. The purchase, valued at $20 million, came after a concerted campaign by the dairy industry, which is facing a 35-percent drop in revenues.

Dairy group decides to support TPP and oppose U.S.-EU pact

The National Milk Producers Federation board voted to support the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact "containing features that will help America's dairy farmers in the future."

Wood pulp in your Parmesan

Some brands of Parmesan cheese sold in U.S. grocery stores contain unexpectedly large amounts of cellulose, reports Bloomberg, which hired an independent laboratory to test samples of the popular grated cheese.

A home-cooked bacon cheeseburger costs more

Americans are paying noticeably more for the three main ingredients of a bacon cheeseburger - ground chuck, cheese and bacon - than a year ago, says the largest U.S. farm group in a semi-annual market basket survey.