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Top Story, April 2017


Dairy council meeting touches on advertising, low milk prices

By CARYL VELISEK
AFP Correspondent

FREDERICK, Md. — The Maryland Dairy Oversight & Advisory Council met April 11 at the Frederick County Health Department.
First on the agenda was an update from Laurie Bucher, chief of the Center for Milk & Dairy Product Safety at Maryland’s health department, and there was a short discussion on the “Sell By” label and if it should be changed to “Use By,” which is a longer period of time used by a number of other states, including neighboring states.
Bob Gray, executive director of the Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperative, the main speaker, spoke at length. He talked about a number of issues beginning with the Farm Bill, which is up for discussion now, and an indication there is strong encouragement for dairy farmers to sign up for insurance in anticipation of costs. 
The National Milk Producers Federation wants a feed cost survey for each state and it was also noted that premiums did not always reflect what the cost of feed in the northeast is going to be.
It was also noted that except for California, Oregon and Washington state, where there has been a reduction of production, the rest of the country has a surplus of dairy caused by overproduction, because the cows are such good producers, and also because farmers are such good managers. There is also no indication of prices recovering a lot in the near future.
Gray said, “ We are awash in milk right now.”
There was a good deal of discussion about getting flavored milk back into schools, noting there is no flavored milk in Waashington, D.C., schools and getting it back in would help increase demand for milk. Developing more markets in the northeast and increasing capacity to handle more product would also be a big help in increasing demand.
“The advertising council has failed,” according to dairy farmer, Janet Stiles-Fulton of Washington County.
“They don’t sell milk, and we need to educate the public about its benefits and good taste.”
It was also noted that the  governor had signed the axle weight law that puts Maryland in line with the laws in surrounding states.
At the close of the meeting, Bucher announced that after 12 years as chief with the Center For Milk Marketing and Dairy Product Safety, she will be working with the Consumer Safety Office with the Milk Safety Program at FDA in College Park as of May 2017, and she was thanked for all her work with the council.