What a dairy cooperative merger could mean for farmers in the Northeast

Members of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, a century-old dairy cooperative in Vermont, will vote later this month on whether to merge with the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America. But even as low milk prices and ongoing consolidation have threatened the region’s dairy farmers, St. Albans’ members are split on whether linking up with DFA will address their woes.

Four reasons to check out FERN’s SXSW panel on Big Food

Next week, FERN is headed to Austin, where I’m moderating two panels at SXSW! One of them — The Future of Big Food: What’s at Stake? — will take on big questions about where Big Food companies are headed. As eaters increasingly want transparency about ingredients, healthier options, and more sustainable packaging, where does that leave manufacturers? And will new labeling regulations shift the grocery environment? (No paywall)

One counselor’s lonely struggle against farm country’s mental health crisis

In Minnesota, one of the country’s top farming states, just one man is responsible for dealing with farmers’ mental health needs. As low crop prices and farm closures weigh heavily on farming families, he is joining state legislators and advocates to push for allocating more resources to the pressing issue. (No paywall)

Farmland values up slightly in Midwest, down a bit in Plains

Ag bankers in the Midwest say farmland values were steady overall in 2018 and rose by 1 percent in the final three months of the year, reported the Chicago Federal Reserve on Thursday in its quarterly AgLetter.

Big Ag tries to stifle debate on Minnesota mega-dairy expansion

Last week, seven corporate agriculture interest groups sued the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to halt the extension of a public comment period on a proposed mega-dairy expansion in Winona County, Minnesota. The suit highlights broader efforts by agribusiness to silence opposition from rural residents who speak out against large concentrated animal feeding operations in their communities. (No paywall)

A penny a gallon is too little, dairy industry tells Perdue

Dairy farmers have lost at least $1 billion due to the trade war, so the USDA should revise its bailout plan, said the National Milk Producers Federation on Wednesday. The bailout, announced in August, allotted just $127 million — the equivalent of 1 cent per pound of milk — to dairy farmers.

Canada to eliminate Class 7 barrier, allow more U.S. access to dairy market

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement that will succeed NAFTA includes the elimination of Canada’s Class 7 dairy price system and greater U.S. access to the Canadian dairy market than offered in the TPP free trade agreement, said senior administration officials late Sunday.

To get NAFTA, Canada must drop Class 7 dairy scheme, says Perdue

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue described a potential tri-national agreement on a new NAFTA as the start of a domino effect in rewriting U.S. relations with trading partners around world. "I would love to have a deal today with Canada to put NAFTA back together," said Perdue during a C-SPAN interview in which he called for reform of Canada's supply-management system."

Dairy is the big farm issue for NAFTA, says Perdue

Dairy is not the only agricultural dispute between the United States and Canada, but it is the biggest one, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Senior U.S. officials say the new NAFTA must include greater U.S. dairy access to Canada.

Trudeau says Canada won’t yield on dairy system

With negotiators facing an informal deadline of Friday for agreement on the new NAFTA, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will reject U.S. proposals to dismantle its supply management system, said Canadian Press on Wednesday.