ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- If dairy prices are to rebound through the rest of this year, exports will be the main reason why. That's according to Dr. Bob Cropp, Emeritus professor of Agriculture Economics at the University of Wisconsin. In his monthly Dairy Situation and Outlook Report, Cropp points out that dairy exports have been higher than a year earlier each month since last July-especially in February when dairy exports reached an all time high thanks to growing demand from China, Southeast Asia, South America, the Middle East, North Africa and Japan. Domestically disappearance of butter and cheese was also running between 3 and 4% higher than a year ago for the first quarter of this year. Cropp predicts Class 3 milk prices will be over $15 by June and over $16 by August or September.
Under some tough questioning from members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, including Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, said his agency "would be taking a very close and fresh look" at imitation dairy products and how they're labeled. Gottlieb admitted the FDA has been lax in not holding food marketers liable for using dairy terms like milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream on products that don't come from dairy animals, as the law reads. Baldwin was an author of the Dairy Pride Act which would force the FDA to come up with a timetable for taking enforcement action against mislabeled imitation dairy products. When Gottlieb told Baldwin his agency is requesting more information on the issue so FDA can do more review, Baldwin told him there is "no need for further review or study, we need you to enforce the existing dairy standards of identity that are already on the books."
Senator Baldwin has also recently co-sponsored a bill along with Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst that would get farmers some added resources during these tough economic times for agriculture. The bill is called the Farmers First Act and it would provide funding to various farm support groups to help farmers deal with the stress and mental health issues they are facing during this period of low prices and high input costs.The bill has many co-sponsors in the Senate and the support of most farm organizations.
Trees take center stage around the country today-it's Arbor Day, a day set aside every year since 1872 to celebrate the importance of trees in our lives and to promote tree planting and tree care around the country. The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska, where it is now an official holiday. And now all 50 states and many countries around the world also observe Arbor Day on the last Friday in April. It's expected that school children and others will plant over a million trees today.
Madison, especially on the University of Wisconsin campus, will turn blue today. That's because FFA members from all over the state will be in town for the organization's annual state judging contests. Students will compete in about 25 separate judging areas with the winners earning the right to move on to the national judging competition in October at the National FFA convention in Indianapolis.