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Commentary.

We do not all have to use the same color or horsepower of tractor.  We don’t have to plant the same brand of seed or use the same crop inputs or apply the same amount of NPK and micronutrients to our soils.  As a matter of fact, we’re a whole lot more productive farmers and ranchers if we pay attention to our own land and livestock and use the right tools and inputs for what we have instead of worrying so much about what our neighbors are doing.

Certainly we can learn a lot from watching others and talking about why we do what we do the way we do it, but every farm and every herd is different.  I think we all need to do a better job of respecting and appreciating not only that which makes us same, but also that which makes us different

Whether using green or orange equipment, organic or conventional management, I believe there is a sameness at the core of every true farmer.  I have traveled with farmers from the United States to visit their brethren on farms in Brazil, South Africa, China, Australia and other countries.  The crop, equipment, breed or species of livestock and management style made no difference to the visitors or the visited. The kinship of those who like to grow things is silent and powerful and draws people together like metal to magnet.

Why then, do we continue to fight amongst ourselves when we should be working together?  Agriculture becomes more fragmented when those involved in organizations representing various crops or species of livestock begin fighting amongst themselves.  About everything.  I believe accountability is a must.  I certainly don’t agree with anyone on everything – But when a disagreement between a couple of people festers and expands and spills over into committees and staff and general membership so that lines are being drawn and sides taken before those drawing those lines and taking those sides have all the facts, there is a problem.

I remember playing the game of Gossip as a child. We’d lean over and whisper into one another’s ears, passing along a message that, when repeated time and again in a whispered tone, is changed.

Talk a little less and listen a little more.  You’ll find more often than not that you really ultimately want many of the same things, even if you have differing opinions on just exactly how you’re going to get there.

If you’re spending too much time arguing about who is going to dot the i and cross the t, or who’ll run the meeting and who’ll take out the trash, then you are missing out on the big picture.  In agriculture, we need forward thinkers representing us who are not afraid to look past the way we’ve always done things and listen to new ideas if they make sense.  We also need to accept the fact that some ideas don’t make sense and we’re better off doing a few things the way they’ve always been done.

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Andrea Jones, Research Association at Delta Center (cotton)

Andrea Jones, Research Association at Delta Center (cotton)

Field research tours for corn, cotton, soybeans and rice have been held at the Fisher Delta Research Center – where specialists have explained to farmers their latest research developments.

It was the 54th Annual Delta Field Day in Portageville, Missouri.

Research at the University of Missouri Center is enhancing crop production, weed management, soil and water improvement and the pollinator population.

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Cheese prices held steady on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Thursday, butter increased 3 cents and nonfat dry milk was a nickel higher. Class III futures were mostly a little higher. Milk production continues to trend lower in the North Central and Northeast as hot weather and high humidities pressured production this week. Dairy Market News says the number of spot loads being shipped to the Southeast is climbing steadily. 180 loads went to Florida this week and 50 loads went to other Southeastern states. Florida has imported 540 loads in the last three weeks.

Class I demand is expected to be a little lighter next week as schools are closed for Labor Day.

Cheese production in the U.S. in July totaled 988 million pounds up 3.1 percent from July of last year. Italian type cheese output was 3.2 percent higher at 422 million pounds and American type cheese production totaled 393 million pounds up 3.4 percent from a year ago.

Wisconsin cheese production totaled 261 million pounds in July up 7.3 percent from July of last year.  California cheese production totaled 206 million pounds in July up 1.7 percent from July of 2014.

Butter production totaled 133 million pounds in July down 3.2 percent from July of 2014.

Cheese production from January through July is running 2.3 percent above the same period in 2014. Butter production for the 7-month period is running 1.7 percent below year-ago levels.

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Blunt_DeltaCenterFieldDay2015U.S. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri tells Brownfield he’s not a lawyer, but it appears the EPA’s Clean Water Rule is going into effect for 38 states –and he says, fortunately, Missouri’s not one of them, at least for now. Missouri is one of 13 states that got a temporary injunction last week to prevent the so-called Waters of the U.S. rule from going into effect. Blunt says a higher judge could decide that the rule must go into effect for ALL states, “If that goes all the way to the Supreme Court, that takes a couple of years. If the rule has been in effect for a couple of years, what happens is, people make a lot of economic decisions that aren’t good ones. But, they have to be made to comply with this rule or pay huge penalties.”

Blunt says the provisions in pending appropriations bills that would allow nothing to be spent to implement the Clean Water Rule or the so-called Clean Power Rule – appears the best way for Congress to try and halt them, “There’s no way the president, I think, would ever sign a law that said the EPA can’t do this. Now, we ought to have a law that requires me to vote on every rule and regulation.”

Blunt has co-sponsored the REINs act for the past two years – requiring any executive branch rule with significant economic impact to be approved by Congress. A similar version has passed in the U.S. House. Brownfield interviewed Senator Blunt at the Delta Center Field Day in Portageville, Missouri.

AUDIO: Interview with Senator Roy Blunt at Delta Center Field Day

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Cheese

Cheese production in the U.S. in July totaled 988 million pounds up 3.1 percent from July of last year. Italian type cheese output was 3.2 percent higher at 422 million pounds and American type cheese production totaled 393 million pounds up 3.4 percent from a year ago.

Wisconsin cheese production totaled 261 million pounds in July up 7.3 percent from July of last year. Italian cheese production totaled 130 million pounds in the Badger State up 8.3 percent from a year ago. Mozzarella production was 9.1 percent higher. American cheese production totaled 78.2 million pounds in July up 10.8 percent with Cheddar output 12 percent higher at 52.4 million pounds.

California cheese production totaled 206 million pounds in July up 1.7 percent from July of 2014. The Golden State produced 134 million pounds of Italian cheeses in July up 3.3 percent from a year ago. American type cheese production was 2.8 percent higher at 54.9 million pounds with Cheddar output 1.8 percent higher at 31.3 million pounds.

Butter production totaled 133 million pounds in July down 3.2 percent from July of 2014.

Cheese production from January through July is running 2.3 percent above the same period in 2014. Butter production for the 7-month period is running 1.7 percent below year-ago levels.

Other dairy product production in July compared to a year ago:

  •             Nonfat dry milk; 155 million pounds (-6.9%)
  •             Skim milk powders; 35.1 million pounds ( 23%)
  •             Dry whey; 80.7 million pounds ( 9.8%)
  •             Lactose: 90.5 million pounds (-11%)
  •             Whey protein concentrate: 41.4 million pounds (-7.1%)
  •             Regular ice cream; 70.2 million gallons (-5%)
  •             Low fat ice cream; 45.2 million gallons ( 12.4%)
  •             Sherbet; 3.76 million gallons (-6.4%)
  •             Frozen yogurt; 6.23 million gallons ( 2.3%)

Read the full NASS report here:

 

 

 

 

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Futures Markets copy

Soybeans were lower on fund and technical selling. There’s a lot of uncertainty about Chinese demand, but China and unknown did buy more new crop U.S. beans. China picked up 110,000 tons and unknown purchased 773,400 tons. The trade’s expecting a big U.S. crop and at least some increase in Brazil’s soybean acreage. Soybean meal was modestly lower and bean oil was steady to weak. Statistics Canada reports canola stocks at the end of July were 2.322 million tons, down 37.6% on the year.

Corn was lower on fund and technical selling. Harvest is getting underway in parts of the Southern Cornbelt and crop development weather looks good in most areas of the Midwest. Once harvest gets rolling on a widespread basis, yields are expected to vary pretty widely. Weekly export numbers were bearish with new crop sales below expectations. Ethanol was mixed.

The wheat complex was lower on fund and technical selling, along with the higher dollar. The weekly export numbers were bearish with slow sales and shipments. The fundamentals are bearish with a large world supply and slow demand. According to Ukraine’s ag ministry, grain exports for the first two months of the marketing year are 5.8 million tons, compared to 4.8 million this time last year. Statistics Canada says all wheat stocks on July 31st were 7.108 million tons, a 32% year to year decrease.

 

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French farmers from western France regions drive their tractors on the A10 motorway outside Paris

French farmers used more than 1,550 tractors to block traffic in Paris Thursday. The farmers were protesting falling farm prices especially for dairy and livestock which have many on the brink of bankruptcy. European producers have been hard-hit by Russia’s embargo on Western products, plunging global prices, increased foreign competition and price wars among EU supermarket chains. French farmers say they are also hampered by stricter environmental standards and higher payroll fees for social programs.

The French government provided a $674 million debt relief package for farmers six weeks ago but FNSEA, the largest farm union in the country says that is not enough. The government has promised to announce new measures to help farmers on Tuesday.

Most believe the Paris demonstration is a preview of a European-wide demonstration in Brussels next Monday when EU farm ministers meet to discuss the farm crisis.

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Dorothy-Freeman

The Minnesota State Fair showcases the talents of 4-H youth each year.

State 4-H director Dorothy Freeman says about 6,500 members display projects annually.

“In our 4-H building we have lots of great projects, even this year with the poultry projects not being able to bring any birds to the building.”  Freeman says the students have still brought many wonderful demonstrations.

She tells Brownfield the purpose of 4-H is in its clover.

“When it talks about the development of the head, the heart and the hands for vocational and technical development.  Then the development of their health; so it’s really four-fold development of young people.”

Freeman says projects help facilitate that development.

“They help them learn greater skills like citizenship, service, decision-making, leadership and learning how to work with people different than themselves.”

She says 4-H is promoted at the Fair but the primary recruiting of new members is done locally.

 

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Lewis_family_2015

A Michigan farmer says environmental verification helped him better prepare for food safety audits.

Fourth generation farmer Scott Lewis farms 700 acres in West Michigan, growing apples, cherries, peaches, pears, plums and asparagus. Lewis tells Brownfield, he voluntarily became verified with the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) in cropping, farmstead and livestock systems. He says the process helped the farm be better preferred for audits.

“They’re all intertwined and they all are trying to do the same thing: record keeping, making sure you’re following the correct application rates on your fertilizers, making sure you’re taking care of your pesticides.”

Living close to Lake Michigan in New Era, Lewis says caring for the environment and soil is very serious.

AUDIO: Interview with Scott Lewis (1:59 mp3):

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USDA Mandatory reported cattle trade and demand was light to moderate in Nebraska on Thursday. Compared to last week, dressed sales traded 6.00 lower at 222.00. A few live sales traded in Iowa at 141.00. There were a few bids on the cattle in Kansas at 143.00 to 144.00. Asking prices appear to be around 148.00 plus in the South, and 228.00 plus in the North. The kill was estimated at 111,000 head, 2,000 more than last week, but down 8,000 from last year.

Boxed beef cutout values were steady to weak on light to moderate demand and moderate offerings. Choice beef was down .16 at 240.81, and select was .59 lower at 228.24.

Live cattle contracts settled 10 to 55 points higher on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Thursday. Futures ended off the triple digit gains seen earlier in the session as buyer support appeared unable to hold through the close. Price variability has been very evident through the last couple of weeks, but consistency in closing markets anywhere near session highs has been lacking. Without consistent upward movement over the next couple of days, the live cattle market is going to improve very little and remain in the current choppy pattern. October settled .37 higher at 141.60 and December 143.87 up .55.

Feeder cattle ended 5 to 180 points higher as sharp triple digit gains developed late Thursday morning as traders focused on potential additional buyer support coming from the widespread in grain prices. The gains did not hold and futures closed off the day’s highs. September was up 1.80 at 202.55, and October 197.32 up 1.02.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Springfield, Missouri Livestock Marketing Center totaled 1259 head on Wednesday. Compared to last week, steer and heifer calves and yearlings were steady. Not enough Holsteins for a good market test. The demand and supply were moderate. The sale was highlighted with three pot loads of yearlings off one ranch. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 825 pounds averaged 197.00, per hundredweight. 683 pound heifers traded at 194.28.

Lean hogs settled 7 to 65 points in the red as moderate pressure held through the complex with the early trade giving way to traders trying to square positions before the weekend. Even though it is only Thursday the expected light trade through the rest of the week could spark some additional market shifts. October was .32 lower at 69.45, and December was down .65 at 64.02.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed .95 lower at 70.31 weighted average on a carcass basis, the West was down .85 at 70.21, and the East had no price comparison at 67.54.

The pork carcass cutout value was .69 lower at 85.25 FOB plant.

For the week ending August 29, the average live weight of Iowa barrows and gilts drifted a little lower to 277 pounds, .2 pound lighter than the prior week and 3.6 pounds smaller than 2014. Not a big week-to-week change, but resisting the strong seasonal trend toward heavier weights at this time of year gets very tough.

The hog kill was estimated at 427,000 head, 1,000 less than last week, but 24,000 greater than last year.

 

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Futures Markets copy

Sep. corn closed at $3.47 and 3/4, down 6 and 1/4 cents
Sep. soybeans closed at $8.79 and 3/4, down 4 cents
Sep. soybean meal closed at $316.50, down $1.60
Sep. soybean oil closed at 26.76, unchanged
Sep. wheat closed at $4.56 and 1/2, down 16 and 1/2 cents
Oct. live cattle closed at $141.60, up 37 cents
Oct. lean hogs closed at $69.45, down 32 cents
Oct. crude oil closed at $46.75, up 50 cents
Dec. cotton closed at 62.76, up 27 points
Sep. rice closed at $11.79 and 1/2, up 10 and 1/2 cents
Sep. Class III milk closed at $16.17, down 1 cent
Dec. gold closed at $1,124.50, down $9.10
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 16,374.76, up 23.38 points

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corn harvest

Part of East Central Illinois farmer Phil Kiefer’s farm received 18 inches of rain in June.  He says the corn in that area looks pretty poor.  “We’ve had some areas of small corn and some yellowing,” he says.  “And then we had some dryness after that.  Where we farm at the home place might be off and could trigger some claim situations.”

But, Kiefer says, it all doesn’t look bad.  “As we go further south – south of Bloomington in that area – things look pretty decent,” he says.  “But we’ve not gotten those finishing rains – so we’ve not had the perfect year.  There’s going to be some decent yields – but there’s also going to be some poor ones.”

He tells Brownfield they should start corn harvest within the next couple of weeks.

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Variability will be the word used most to describe harvest in Indiana this year.

Central Indiana farmer Brian Presnal says his crop conditions range from non-existent to above average.

He says that largely depends on when the crops were planted.  “Crops that were plated the first 10 days of May definitely did better than crops that were planted later in May,” he says.  “Those later planted crops became stunted and saturated and fought the torrential rains and are in pretty poor condition.”

He tells Brownfield the drop in commodity prices has created an even more challenging agricultural environment.  “Input costs have become an area we’re really going to need to watch,” he says.  “Hopefully we can get the fertilizer costs down.  Fuel prices have come down in recent weeks – so that is going to help some.”

Overall, Presnall says this year has “been a challenge”.

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soybean seedling

Soybeans are heading back to class in curriculum kits created by the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee.

Noelle Byerley with the Soybean Checkoff says the soybean kits are available to any Michigan teacher.

“The kit is four themes, which is about six weeks’ worth of lessons, and it has all the stuff it in so the teacher gets the box, opens it and can immediately start teaching.”  Byerley tells Brownfield the lesson plans include the life cycle of the soybean, their history, innovations of Henry Ford, and how soybeans are part of students’ everyday lives.  “One nice thing about these themes is that they do reach and meet the science and social science state requirement.”

Byerley says the curriculum continues to be updated with teacher input and innovations in agriculture. The kits have reached more than 150,000 students since the program began in 1999.

AUDIO: Interview with Noelle Byerley (1:59 mp3):

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Iowa turkeys in grow-out barn

South Dakota’s recovery from avian influenza is nearly complete.

All nine of the state’s turkey farms hit by the virus last spring have restocked birds.

However, the lone chicken farm affected is still recovering according to Dakota Layers vice president Jason Ramsdell.

The 1.3 million bird egg-laying operation tells the Argus Leader they are aiming at getting the first flocks in barns by December, but won’t be fully stocked until the following year.

Avian flu first appeared in South Dakota April second and is responsible for the loss of 1.7 million birds in the state.

 

 

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There are a few starter bids on the cattle being reported by DTN at 143.00 to 144.00 in Kansas, and dressed bids of 223.00 to 225.00 in Nebraska. Packer inquiry is expected to improve as the day progresses. Asking prices around 146.00 to 148.00 in the South and 228.00 plus in the North.

Boxed beef cutout values are lower, the choice is down .78 at 240.19, and select is 1.02 lower at 228.10.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Springfield, Missouri Livestock Marketing Center totaled 1259 head on Wednesday. Compared to last week, steer and heifer calves and yearlings were steady. Not enough Holsteins for a good market test. The demand and supply were moderate. The sale was highlighted with three pot loads of yearlings off one ranch. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 825 pounds averaged 197.00, per hundredweight. 683 pound heifers traded at 194.28.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade are 1.17 lower at 70.43 weighted average on a carcass basis, the West is 1.07 lower at 70.32, and the national hogs are 1.08 lower at 69.85.Missouri direct base carcass meat price is 2.00 lower from 61.00 to 62.00. Midwest hogs on a live basis are steady from 47.00 52.00. With just a couple of markets reporting.

The pork carcass cutout value is down .04 at 85.90 FOB plant. Loins and bellies are significantly higher, but ribs are down over 6.00.

For the week ending August 29, the average live weight of Iowa barrows and gilts drifted a little lower to 277 pounds, .2 pound lighter than the prior week and 3.6 pounds smaller than 2014. Not a big week-to-week change, but resisting the strong seasonal trend toward heavier weights at this time of year gets very tough.

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Programs ICON

The USDA reports corn, soybean, and wheat export sales for the week ending August 27th were within pre-report estimates. Physical shipments of corn, soybeans, and wheat were all less than what’s needed weekly to meet USDA projections for the respective marketing years. The 2014/15 marketing year for corn and soybeans ended August 31st, with soybean shipments matching USDA’s demand projection and corn falling short.

Wheat came out at 277,500 tons (10.2 million bushels), down 48% from the week ending August 20th and 47% lower than the four week average. Mexico purchased 75,300 tons and Italy bought 63,800 tons, but unknown destinations canceled on 122,300 tons. For the 2015/16 marketing year to date, wheat sales are 369.9 million bushels, compared to 420.2 million in 2014/15.

Corn was reported at 112,700 tons (4.4 million bushels), up sharply from the previous week and the four week average. Japan picked up 173,700 tons and South Korea purchased 64,000 tons, while unknown destinations canceled on 252,400 tons. With just a few reporting days left in the 2014/15 marketing year, corn sales are 1.867 billion bushels, compared to 1.915 billion late in 2013/14. Sales of 328,300 tons (12.9 million bushels) for 2015/16 delivery were mainly to unknown destinations (132,200 tons) and Panama (60,000 tons).

Soybeans had a net reduction of 60,500 tons (-2.2 million bushels). Japan bought 33,100 tons and Indonesia picked up 16,600 tons, but unknown destinations canceled on 119,700 tons. So far this marketing year, soybean sales are 1.858 billion bushels, compared to 1.686 billion this time last year. Sales of 1,532,800 tons (56.3 million bushels) for 2015/16 delivery were primarily to unknown destinations (947,700 tons) and China (489,600 tons).

Soybean meal had a net reduction of 13,900 tons, with sales of 6,000 to 19,200 tons offset by cancellations of 2,700 to 30,000 tons. At this point in the marketing year, soybean meal sales are 11,496,900 tons, compared to 10,436,900 a year ago. Sales of 218,400 tons for 2015/16 delivery were mostly to the Philippines (86,000 tons) and unknown destinations (51,400 tons).

Soybean oil was pegged at 4,000 tons, 77% less than the week before and 38% under the four week average. Mexico purchased 2,600 tons and Nicaragua bought 1,500 tons, while Canada canceled on 300 tons. 2014/15 soybean oil sales are 883,200 tons, compared to 809,100 in 2013/14. Sales of 2,100 tons for 2015/16 delivery were to Mexico (1,300 tons) and Canada (800 tons).

Net beef sales totaled 13,100 tons, up 3% from the prior week and 34% higher than the four week average. The reported buyers were Hong Kong (3,300 tons), Japan (2,500 tons), South Korea (2,500 tons), Mexico (1,600 tons), and Canada (1,300 tons).

Net pork sales totaled 26,600 tons, an increase of 64% on the week and 57% more than the four week average. The listed purchasers were Mexico (13,400 tons), Japan (5,200 tons), South Korea (2,300 tons), Hong Kong (1,500 tons), and Australia (900 tons). Sales of 300 tons for 2016 delivery were to Australia (200 tons) and South Korea (100 tons).

 

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josh-rice

Minnesota is the first state in the country to offer the Science of Ag program.

Extension educator Josh Rice says it is geared toward 4-H’ers with an eye on the future.

“Their involvement in 4-H can lead them to college or trade school, and into an agriculturally-related career.”  He says the youth work on teams of three to four in sixth grade and above.  “They identify a real existing agriculture issue within their community.  Then they work with agriculture business and industry professionals to come up with a potential solution.”

This is the second year for the program in Minnesota.

Rice tells Brownfield the 4-H partnership with CME Group for Commodity Carnival at the State Fair fits in well.

“We show the youth and the adults who are in the barns that raising a hog is not as simple as it seems.  You have to take a lot of things into account: nutrition, vet bills, transportation and marketing the animal.”

He says the hands-on learning experience provides a view of what farmers go through on a day-to-day basis.

 

 

 

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VanDrie

The Michigan Milk Producers Association recently announced their Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperators (OYDC) for the upcoming year.

Beth VanDrie and her husband were awarded the 2015 state winning cooperator couple.  “We got selected based on judges reviewing us as we went through the conference.”  VanDrie tells Brownfield the top ten young dairy couples in the cooperative were nominated by their local districts to attend the annual OYDC Conference. She says not only was she able to meet with other young dairy farmers, but VanDrie says the conference gave her a chance to learn more about MMPA and what the cooperative is doing for their members.

VanDrie farms over 1,300 acres and milks almost 300 cows with her brother and father in Lake City, in Michigan’s west central region.

Darren and Regina Coffey, of Allegan in southwest Michigan, were named OYDC Runners-Up. The Coffey’s 750 cows and farm 1,600 acres.

VanDrie tells Brownfield, all dairy farmers are responsible for providing consumers with a quality product they want to buy.  “It’s important to work together, and it’s important to be transparent.”  She says most importantly, dairy farmers need to be responsible managers.

MMPA’s OYDC awards are based on farming operations, farm-related and community activities and leadership abilities.

AUDIO: Interview with Beth VanDrie (5:10 mp3):

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Sipiorski

Back-to-back increases at the Global Dairy Trade auction have those in the dairy industry hoping the global dairy market has bottomed-out. But some observers say the fundamentals have not changed, production continues to outpace demand. Gary Sipiorski with Vita Plus is well-known for his expertise on financing dairy operations, he says U.S. producers need to take good care of what they have in their barnyard.

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