Ag Chat with Bob Bosold - Jan. 19th

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The drop in milk production across California over the past few years is starting to be felt by processing plants. Earlier this week, California Dairies, a farmer owned dairy cooperative, announced it will shut down its Los Banos facility on St. Patrick's Day.

That plant is one of 6 California Dairies plants across the state and is a cream cheese and specialty cheese making plant. Coop officials say the only reason the plant is closing is because of the lower milk volumes that are making it too costly to operate the plant which has been operating since 1925. California Dairies is the largest member owned milk marketing and processing cooperative in the state as it produces 43% of California's milk. 63 employees will lose their jobs when the plant closes.

It remains to be seen how much negotiating will get done next week as the sixth round of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement kick off Tuesday January 23 in Montreal without the top trade negotiators from the U.S., Canada and Mexico. That's because they will be in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum which also starts January 23. A spokesperson for Canada's Foreign Minister said the NAFTA situation will be brought up informally on the sidelines of the Davos meeting, and all three officials will travel to Montreal for a trilateral meeting January 28.

Construction of the controversial Keystone XL crude oil pipeline seems to be getting closer. That's because Calgary based TransCanada Corporation has gotten contracts to ship enough oil to make the line feasible. Yesterday the company announced it now has about 500,000 barrels a day confirmed on 20 year contracts and it will continue to seek more oil for the line. They say the planned pipeline could carry as much as 830,000 barrels a day from Alberta through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska. There it would connect with an existing Keystone pipeline to take the oil the rest of the way to refineries and export terminals along our Gulf Coast. No final construction plans have been made as of yet as the company is still trying to get easements from landowners along the proposed route. But company officials say they would like to start construction in 2019.

January 20th is going to be a gouda day because its National Cheese Lovers Day! There is no exact evidence of how cheese making was discovered, but legend tells us it was likely that the first cheese was created thousands of years ago when milk was transported and stored in sheep stomachs. It was then left to sit a few days so the proteins would separate into curds and whey. The earliest record of cheese making dates back to 5,500 BC in what is now Poland. The basic principles behind making cheese are quite simple. Let the milk sour, then separate the curds or solids from the whey or liquid. The curds are then salted and left to age. Today there are over 1,400 varieties of cheese.

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