Four helpful tools farmers can use to track market trends

The average milk price for 2014 hit an all-time high and feed prices were moderate, resulting in a very profitable year for dairy farmers.  Ag economists are projecting an average all milk price of $18/cwt for 2015 or roughly $5.50 less than the 2014 milk price.  Feed prices may soften some in 2015 but it appears that dairy farm profit margins will tighten. Even with lower milk prices and tighter feed costs, there are opportunities to increase income over feed cost on your farm.  Dr. John Goeser from Rock River Laboratory and I recently had a discussion about some of the tools we recommend dairy farmers use to navigate the volatile markets they encounter.  One area we find is often overlooked is the wide array of information on markets and market trends that can help a dairy farmer understand the factors that are at play in the marketplace. This information can help farmers make informed decisions and position themselves to respond to market signals in a way that will encourage profitability even when margins are tight. There are many different sources of information available on market trends in both commodities and milk prices.  A few of our favorites are listed below. Dr. Goeser’s  recommendations: 1. Companies that specialize in the trade of futures contracts in milk, corn, and soybeans can be a valuable resource.   One example is Commodity and Ingredient Hedging, they publish a report called the Margin Manager Newsletter.   In their December Dairy margin watch report they discuss the tightening dairy margins and factors that are impacting dairy margins including market conditions in China and New Zealand.  They...

ANC “Goes Beyond for Dairy” at World Dairy Expo

Thank you to everyone that stopped by our booth at World Dairy Expo to participate in our #Igobeyondfordairy campaign.  We had a great time learning about all of the ways, big or small, you go beyond to care for your animals and to advocate for agriculture! Check out our photo album of our favorite #gobeyondfordairy stories and facts!     This slideshow requires JavaScript.   View all of the photos on our facebook page! Weren’t able to make it to World Dairy Expo this year and still want to participate in the #gobeyondfordairy campaign?  Just post on facebook or twitter using the hashtag #Igobeyondfordairy or email your photos and stories to eibergenc@agrinutrition.com!  We’ll send you a free t-shirt!...
Join Us in Going Beyond for Dairy!

Join Us in Going Beyond for Dairy!

World Dairy Expo is right around the corner.  This year ANC has some big plans to share with you.  We will be rolling out our brand new look, with the initiative to “go beyond nutrition” for farmers and for the dairy industry. As we are getting ready to roll-out our new look at World Dairy Expo, we wanted to spread the word about what we feel especially passionate about.  Going beyond nutrition, and going beyond for the dairy industry. You can help us spread the word by participating in our “I go beyond for dairy” campaign.  We want to showcase all of the ways farmers “go beyond for dairy,” to open the conversation between consultants and farmers about working together to create management programs, practices, and solutions that work best for each individual farms’ needs. We especially hope this campaign will bring awareness to those that may not be as familiar with today’s farming practices about the many ways farmers care for their animals every day, while providing safe and nutritious food for the world! Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #Igobeyondfordairy and mention @ANCAgNutrition, OR share your own photos, thoughts, and stories to eibergenc@agrinutrition.com.  Let’s spread the word about how farmers go beyond everyday to care for their animals!...

Get in or Get out: Is it Time to Expand the Dairy?

Last week I had the opportunity to tour a few dairy farms near the Fond du Lac, WI area with Badger NAMA (National Agriculture Marketing Association).  We started out the day at Vir-Clar Farms, a 1,250 cow dairy farm with a methane digester, then headed to LaClare Farms, a goat farm with a farmstead café, and lastly, we visited Kelley Country Creamery for some fresh farmstead ice cream. Even though all three farms were very diverse, there was a common theme that I picked out from the stories that were told on our tours. Each family farm decision started out with a tough, but exciting conversation around the kitchen table.  The family realized that milking under 100 cows or goats just wasn’t paying the bills like it used to, and they had to make the tough decision to “get in or get out” of their dreams of continuing to operate a sustainable dairy farm. I can imagine this is a conversation many dairy farmers are having around their kitchen tables.  If you are considering expanding your dairy operation, you can use Vir-Clar Farms as a shining example of how to expand successfully. Vir-Clar Farms is owned by Gary and Rose Boyke and their children, Katie, J.R., Angie, and Tiffany.  The farm started out with 60 cows, and a focus on top genetic cattle.  In 1995, they expanded the herd to 300 cows, and in 1997 they added another 200 cows, and went from a double 8 to a double 10 parlor.  They have since added more freestall barns and are up to 1,250 milking cows.  They also added unique and cutting...

Nutrition: The Key to Agricultural Sustainability

Just like nutrition is important to your health and my health, nutrition is important to the health of animals.  An animal’s nutrition is even more important to you and me because we consume food products from the animals.  Furthermore, animal nutrition is important to the sustainability of agriculture.  By feeding animals appropriately, we are promoting good health and preventing illness.  Good health leads to consistent eating and drinking and, therefore, growth, production, and reproduction.  From beef to dairy, attention to nutrition can help a farm remain sustainable as well as profitable. Animal Health Animals will only perform at their highest potential if fed the right diet.  Beef cows need a diet that encourages them to eat and grow.  Dairy cows need a diet that maximizes milk production. Nutritionists create rations to help farmers feed their animals appropriately.  Rations are developed to meet the nutritional needs of the animal so the animal can stay healthy and reach the highest level of performance.    Human Health It is important to feed our animals properly so that we promote good health, which will produce good tasting, nutritious and safe food products for us! For example, people prefer to eat well-marbled cuts of steak because it is flavorful and ultimately tastes better! The quality of beef is determined by the marbling of beef, which is the streaking of intermuscular fat.  Quality beef is lean but also very flavorful.  In order for producers to have good quality beef with especially good taste, they must feed their animals appropriately.  Not only does beef taste good but it is good for us.  Beef is full of...

The Dairy Days of Summer

June is a special month for the dairy industry.  It is a time to celebrate all things dairy — from the hard working dairy farmers to the top-producing dairy cows, and the cutest of calves to the delicious and nutritious dairy products we enjoy every day.  The dairy days of summer are a very important time to connect the producer and consumer through industry events and festivals.  These interactive events and festivals focus on bringing consumers to the farm so they can look around and ask real farmers questions! There are several ways for you to get involved in the fun and celebrate the dairy industry! One of the first big events around the Dane County area and an event sponsored by ANC is this Saturday, June 7th.  Cows on the Concourse will be at the Capitol Square in Madison, WI from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  This is a fun, free and family-friendly event to kick off June Dairy Month.  Kids and adults alike will have the opportunity to meet cows and calves and ask questions to local Wisconsin farmers, including ANC’s very own Connie Eibergen, ANC Marketing Coordinator, and Sara Hendrickson, ANC Ration Analyst, who served as Cows on the Concourse committee members.  Top off your day with delicious dairy products –  grilled cheese, ice-cold milk, cream puffs, and ice cream! Another great event is the Dane County Breakfast on the Farm on June 14th.  This year, Dane County Breakfast on the Farm is being held at Zander Dairy Farm in Mount Horeb.  The event is $7 for adults and $4 for children.  Come on out to...