Once the world's largest dairy operator, Borden Dairy said it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, aiming to reduce its debt load "and position the company for long-term success." The bankruptcy filing over the weekend in Delaware courts followed the November bankruptcy of Dean Foods, one of the largest U.S. milk processors.
When a dairy farm in New Mexico was shut down last year due to contamination by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of chemicals that have been linked to reproductive and developmental problems as well as cancer, it revealed how little federal and state regulators know about the presence of these chemicals in our food supply, according to FERN's latest story, published with HuffPost. (No paywall)
Dairy farmers lament that the supermarket dairy case is packed with soy milk and almond milk as well as milk from cows. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb says the agency will update its definition of milk over the next year. "An almond doesn't lactate, I will confess," said Gottlieb at a Politico showcase.
More than fifty rural, agriculture, and labor organizations signed onto a letter demanding that Congress and the Department of Agriculture do more to support dairy farmers as low prices continue to threaten small and mid-size dairies across the country. The organizations include the National Family Farm Coalition, the Food Chain Workers Alliance, the Rural Coalition, Pesticide Action Network North America, and many others.
In a first for the dairy industry, the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s has signed an agreement to eventually buy all of its milk from Vermont dairies that uphold rigorous standards for treatment and pay of employees. The standards, known as Milk with Dignity, were devised by the workers themselves and based on the Fair Food Program established by tomato workers in Florida under the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).
The insurance-like dairy subsidy created in the 2014 farm law has been roundly criticized as a failure by farmers and dairy-state lawmakers. The USDA signaled its agreement, telling producers they can opt out of the Margin Protection Program for 2018, rather than remaining locked into it while Congress writes a new farm bill.
On his sixth day on the job, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, in the name of regulatory flexibility and making school meals more attractive to students, gave schools the green light to serve chocolate milk again. A new study suggests, however, that over time, schoolchildren do not miss flavored milk all that much.
Butter prices are soaring in France, the home of the croissant, whose flaky crust and satisfying taste rely on the dairy product, reports the Guardian. "There is a real risk of butter running out," says the federation of French biscuit and cake makers.
One of the nation's best-selling brands of organic milk puts an oil derived from algae grown in a factory into some of its milk as a nutritional enhancement, says the Washington Post. "Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, the oil allows Horizon to advertise health benefits and charge a higher price," the paper said.
At an agricultural roundtable in the White House, President Trump turned up the heat in the U.S.-Canada dairy dispute, saying "we don't want to be taken advantage of by other countries – and that's stopping and stopping fast." At nearly the same time, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters separately that the administration is looking for measures to resume sales of ultra-filtered milk from U.S. farms to Canadian processors.
The dairy subsidy created in the 2014 farm law, the insurance-like Margin Protection Program, "is not working" but it can be retooled into an effective safety net, the head of the National Milk Producers Federation told the House Agriculture Committee. The changes would provide more assistance to producers during tough times, like the past couple of years, and potentially drive up costs to the government.
With sales of cow milk flat or falling and those of plant-based "milk" soaring, a bipartisan group of 34 House member sent a letter to the FDA, urging it to "more aggressively police the improper use of dairy terms, which are used on the labels of many products that have no real dairy ingredients," reports Feedstuffs.
When the largest U.S. farm group sent 59 shoppers into supermarkets to check the prices of food for a fall meal, they found the tally, on average, was down by a surprisingly large eight percent from a year ago.
Clover Storenetta Farms, based in northern California, "will become the first major dairy in the United States to sell non-GMO conventional milk," says the San Francisco Chronicle. "With its newest product, Clover is betting that there is also a market for conventional milk produced without GMOs that is cheaper than organic milk."
The Los Angeles school board voted, 6-1, to loosen its ban, dating from 2011, on sugary, flavored milk in lunchrooms, in the hopes that more relaxed rules will reduce food waste and encourage consumption of plain milk, says the Los Angeles Times. "We wouldn't serve caramel apples to increase apple consumption," objected Brent Walmsley, founder of the advocacy group Sugarwatch.
Researchers have discovered a way to push the shelf life of milk from two or three weeks to nine, says Gizmodo. By putting tiny drops of already-pasteurized milk into a high-pressure chamber and quickly raising the temperature of the milk by 10 degrees, scientists at Purdue University and the University of Tennessee killed 99 percent of the bacteria that normally remain after pasteurization.
Sugary drinks, such as full-calorie soda, are usually cheaper per ounce than milk, says a team of researchers from Drexel University that looked at beverage prices in 1,743 supermarkets in 41 states. The difference was most pronounced in neighborhoods with a higher concentration of black and Hispanic residents.
Grocers "might unwittingly sabotage the product they are trying to sell" by installing energy-saving LEDs in the dairy case, says Cornell. In taste tests, consumers—who prefer fresh and high-quality milk—gave lower scores to milk exposed to LED light for four hours than to milk that was days or even weeks older.
Nestlé, the world's largest food company, will pay up to $111 million to a French company in a deal to develop and market a milk allergy test for infants, says Reuters. The transaction "complements the company's market-leading infant formula business" and is part of Nestlé's expansion into health services, said the news agency.