John’s Jottings: We’re all in this together


Spring has finally reached my desk here in the Northeast, and with it the yearly transition, struggle, and growth that accompanies it. As we face new and old challenges, celebrate our triumphs and reflect on setbacks, I think it’s necessary to remember that we’re all in this together, no matter the size issue that we’re addressing.

Some of the ways that we can come together are small - letting someone in from a side road in bumper to bumper traffic, taking the time to hold the door for the person behind you, or taking the time to be kind to someone having a bad day. You never know whose day you brighten with a smile.

The large issues in life though, get more complicated. It means being involved in your community, whether that’s geographically based, or related in a wider sense because of your interests, hobbies or careers. For us at the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA), our community is widespread, but we’re proud to work with other organizations throughout the Northeast to promote and grow our common industry. We’re proud to support other organizations, including the Northeast Farm Bureaus, Northeast Dairy Producers Association, New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, the Vermont Dairy Farmers Alliance and of course, many other organizations that are all working towards the common goal of advancing Agriculture in the Northeast.

For our members, there are many ways to help advance these community goals. Of course, financial support is one way. Sponsoring events, investing in scholarships, research grants, etc. Participating in events and leadership roles is another. In February and April, NEAFA hosted lobby days in Albany and Montpelier which members of many different groups took part. We acted as a collaborator, and facilitator, scheduling appointments with legislative members, and coordinating appointments so that members could present highlights to these legislators and have the greatest impact possible.

If you’re not able to make a lobby day, consider spending a few minutes e-lobbying. NEAFA members are currently preparing to testify at the NY State Senate hearings concerning farmers paying overtime and collective bargaining. Both changes would have the potential to devastate those in production agriculture, and the ripple would be felt by virtually all NEAFA members. At NEAFA, we work to make your voice heard.

A final way to connect with your community is to urge your colleagues to join NEAFA. Together, we can make a true difference and advance the needs of our community. A friend of mine, who’s opinion I value, has a favorite phrase that he likes to say. “Life is controlled by those who show up.” We’re happy to show up and help shape the future of agriculture, and hope that you will all continue to support those common goals. We’re all in this together.

John’s Jottings, over and out.

Agri-Pulse: EU approves US trade talks, but not for ag

A council representing European Union countries officially signed off Monday on a narrow mandate to allow trade talks with the U.S. to begin, but, as expected, that mandate does not include agriculture.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has been saying for months that Europe had no intention of addressing ag issues in a trade pact, but that position has met stiff resistance from the Trump administration and many U.S. lawmakers who want to see Europe lift rules that sharply restrict access to U.S. commodities like poultry, pork and beef.

“Elimination of industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers only get us part of the way there, especially when we face major barriers to agricultural trade in the E.U.,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said. “Agriculture is a significant piece of the global economy and it simply doesn’t make sense to leave it out.”

Malmström and others continue to argue that the word “agriculture” was never used when President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to negotiate last summer.

For more information and other Agri-Pulse articles, please visit

NEAFA Promotes PRO-DAIRY Before VT Governor, Legislature, Dairy Commission

NEAFA co-hosted a legislative reception in Montpelier on April 10th.  NEAFA representatives Art Whitman, Governmental Relations Committee member, and Meg Nelson, NEAFA’s VT Legislative Representative, join Representative Harvey Smith who stopped by to talk about policy issues.

NEAFA co-hosted a legislative reception in Montpelier on April 10th.  NEAFA representatives Art Whitman, Governmental Relations Committee member, and Meg Nelson, NEAFA’s VT Legislative Representative, join Representative Harvey Smith who stopped by to talk about policy issues.

Vermont dairy producers are recognized as national leaders in the adoption of new technology and management practices for the efficient production of high-quality milk. Investments in buildings, equipment and technical assistance support farms as they strive to adopt practices that address environmental conservation, animal care, and employee wellness. Despite the professionalism and success of a core group of Vermont dairies, the state ranks in the middle of US states for per cow production.

Vermont 2018 milk production represented 1.28% of the national total. The average annual per cow production of 21,102 pounds places Vermont at 18th in the nation. Average production for the eleven states in the northeast region is 21,935 pounds per cow with New York leading the region at 23,885 pounds of milk per cow per year (a full 12% more milk per cow than Vermont farms).

PRO-DAIRY, a program serving New York dairy farmers and supported by state funds, is a model that holds significant promise for Vermont’s dairy farmers. NEAFA, in collaboration with the leaders of Vermont’s dairy industry, has been advocating for a Vermont PRO-DAIRY program to serve Vermont dairy farmers and play a significant role in assuring economic sustainability of Vermont’s dairy industry.

For over 30 years PRO-DAIRY has linked New York dairy farmers and agribusiness professionals to critical research and resources, giving them information they need to build and manage robust businesses. PRO-DAIRY’s contributions to educational programming and applied research have helped farmers implement practices for efficient milk production. With support from PRO-DAIRY, New York has been a national leader in dairy growth for the past 10 years.

From 1992 through 1996 UVM Extension adopted some of the practices and educational programming created by PRO-DAIRY for dairy farmer education in Vermont. The format was highly regarded by Vermont farmers as evidenced by strong attendance and positive evaluations. Staffing changes led to adjustments in UVM Extension’s services and the PRO-DAIRY model was dropped from UVM Extension programming.

“An annual investment in professional resources for business management, facilities design, and animal management will position Vermont’s dairy industry to be the robust economic engine it has long been known for,” Stated Meg Nelson, NEAFA’s Montpelier Legislative Representative. “An economic development investment into Vermont’s largest industry is the right priority for the State that has developed a brand around its rural economic character. This investment would protect and grow this brand that is known worldwide.”

Executive Director Rick Zimmerman joined Meg Nelson on April 10th for a legislative reception, meetings with the Senate and House Agriculture Committees and coffee with the Governor. Governor Phil Scott met with Vermont Dairy Producers Alliance members where he heard first hand about the benefits New York’s PRO-DAIRY program was bringing to Vermont dairy farmers. On April 15th, Zimmerman presented before the Vermont Dairy Commission and emphasized that Vermont is a significant part of the northeast milk shed that is competing against other regions of the country and the world for the opportunity to serve consumers with high quality milk and dairy products. “Vermont dairy farmers must have access to all the latest tools and technologies if we are to compete successfully in local and global markets,” stated Zimmerman.

NEAFA is advocating for $1.3 million to support the salary, fringe benefits, administrative and operating expenses for four years to support three PRO-DAIRY professionals.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott (center) joins members of the Vermont Dairy Farmers Alliance, NEAFA Executive Director Rick Zimmerman (left) and NEAFA Governmental Relations Committee member Art Whitman (right) for a discussion on the value of bringing Pro-Dairy to Vermont.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott (center) joins members of the Vermont Dairy Farmers Alliance, NEAFA Executive Director Rick Zimmerman (left) and NEAFA Governmental Relations Committee member Art Whitman (right) for a discussion on the value of bringing Pro-Dairy to Vermont.

NEAFA Elects New President and Vice President

The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) is proud to announce their new president and vice president, John Clark and Danielle Penney-Stroup. Returning officers include Secretary Lon Stephens and Treasurer Barry Baetz. “I am proud to work with the dedicated members of NEAFA, committee members and board members who have pushed our organization forward,” said Clark. 

Clark has filled numerous roles at NEAFA in the past, including the treasurer, vice president positions.  Clark also works with the government relations committees and is the chair of the good works committee. “I enjoy facilitating lobby groups, committee sessions, and board meetings,” said Clark.  “I have big shoes to fill following Andy Dugan (exiting president).  He has been a great leader, always listening to all sides while still helping NEAFA move forward. We have truly grown under his leadership, including the new agronomy committee, increased collaboration with others organizations, and we have increased the amount of monies distributed by our good works program.”

Clark has served the agricultural sector for nearly forty years, since graduating from Cornell with a degree in Animal Science and Agribusiness. He currently works with Feedworks USA, a business that works to create additives for feed. Clark also started the Northeast Agri-Solutions Force (NASF) 15 years ago. According to NASF's website, the business searches “for unique, profitable, and proven solutions that today's dairy producers need to control expenses and maximize efficiency.” For Clark, NASF provides the freedom and flexibility to focus on some of things he enjoys in the industry. “I'm my own boss, so I can work with the groups that I want to, and not have to worry about filing for a day off to give back,” said Clark “Whether it's county fairs, jr. dairy, etc., they're all intertwined with my industry. And if there are products that come my way, I have the ability to represent them.”

Incoming Vice President Danielle Penney-Stroop has been on the board for 4 years and currently serves on the conventions committee. “From majority of my research that in the 100 year history of the combined organizations, but definitely since the inception of NEAFA, I am the first female to be an executive member and serve as Vice President,” said Penney-Stroop. “That’s something that makes me very proud & excited.” Penney-Stroup is currently employed by Novus International as the Northeast Ruminant Manager. “We provide cow comfort expertise to dairy producers, as well offer producers a wide variety of products that enhance overall health & production,” said Penney-Stroop. “I have had a variety of roles in the dairy industry for the past 20 years – from large herd management in northern NY & VT to nutrition & dairy management consulting throughout the Northeast, with specialization of calves & heifers.”

While she has a love for all of agriculture, Penney-Stroop’s passion, core, and roots lie with the dairy industry. “I look forward to and will continue my efforts to bridge the educational gaps between the general populous and production agriculture. Additionally, I look forward to increasing my lobbying efforts and becoming more involved in the political process on the behalf of our producers, and other ag industry manufacturers and professionals.” Penney-Stroop currently resides with her husband Brook and her three teenage children (Kaigan, Keara, and Keegan) in Grahamsville NY, located in the southern Catskills.

Returning Secretary Lon Stephens graduated Cornell University in Ag Engineering in 1981. He worked on a large central NY dairy farm for 3 years. He has been a Co-operative Feed Dealers (CFD) employee for 34 years - 29 as General Manager. CFD was formed in 1935 as a wholesale distributor and commodity trading company owned by its members. Members include independent feed mills and farm supply stores throughout NY, PA, NJ and New England. CFD’s newest venture, Dryshod, is on a dramatic growth curve after its market introduction in December 2017. The product line was created with help from former Muck Boot Company founder and owner, Jim Donohue.

Lon was elected Secretary of NEAFA 3 years ago after serving on the NEAFA Board of Directors. He became involved in NEAFA to represent CFD’s independent feed dealers, collaborate with vendors and feed mill customers at NEAFA events, and keep abreast of issues affecting the feed industry. Outside of NEAFA, Lon was elected to serve a three year term on the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) Board of Directors in March 2018. He is active in his local church and enjoys playing golf.

Also returning for another term is Treasurer Barry Baetz. “I joined the organization in the beginning based on the strength and efforts of its advocacy and education for the Northeast agribusiness region,” said Baetz. Prior to becoming Treasurer, he was the chair of the membership committee for a number of years.  “I am proud of our committee being able to both maintain and increase membership levels of NEAFA.  The new membership is bringing a more well rounded perspective to the organization as a whole, while at the same time increasing the strength of the organization while we focus on advocating for Northeast agriculture.”

Baetz was raised on a small farming operation in Ontario, Canada. He attended the University of Guelph and received his Bachelor of Agricultural Science with a major in Animal Science. Baetz joined Shur-Gain directly upon graduating from University in January 1994. Over his time with the company, his responsibilities grew into the role of Dairy Nutrition Specialist, then Business Development Manager, and on to being the General Manager of Shur-Gain’s US Feed Region. in 2013, Baetz joined Dairy Farmers of America Farm Supplies business in the role of Feed Projects Manager. In 2015, Baetz joined Global Agri-Trade Corporation as Animal Feed Sales Manager for the Eastern US and National Accounts. Since then he has focused on expanding the sales efforts of Palmit 80 and Nurisol Dry Fats. His training and experience in dairy nutrition also allows him to provide Technical Service to customers on a national basis.

NEAFA would again like to congratulate John Clark and Danielle Penny-Stroop on their new roles, and thank Andy Dugan for his service to the organization. Thanks also go to the continued hard work and diligence provided by Barry Baetz and Lon Stephens. With such a strong group of officers, NEAFA is looking forward to another year of growth and promotion of the agricultural industry.

John’s Jottings: Change & Choice


2019 is certainly a challenging year for those of us in production agriculture, and in agribusiness as well. Recently, many of us attended the NEAFA Annual Meeting in Florida. As an industry, we face a time of change and choice. Sometimes those changes are voluntary, yet other changes happen where we don’t have a choice. Learning to accept what the future holds for us and to adapt with it is the key to growth in the upcoming year. Most likely you have changes going on in your life. Recently, many of us attended the NEAFA Annual Meeting in Florida, where we explored some of the changes and choices that our industry is currently facing.

While all of the speakers did a great job, some really resonated with me. The dairy producer panel of four unique and diverse producers gave us their current perspectives and how they are meeting their current challenges, each differently. Beth Meyer illustrated numerous ways to prepare for public communications on social and other forms of media. Patrick Clark gave us the C6 Advantage in the form of feed mills, and Sheila Pierson showed us how to identify with different generations, including our own.

A true standout for me was motivational speaker Chad Hymas. He was forced to change, and he had many difficult choices to make afterwards. In 2001, as an active farmer in a hurry, he was in an accident that left him without use of all four of his limbs. Imagining the worst day you or I have ever had, it’s hard to think of anything that compares to this challenge. Hymas had to change, he had no choice in the matter. Some of us have a choice to change or not. Hymas told us, if we listened as well as read between the lines, that as he suffered tremendous challenges, he even contemplated suicide. For a long time, he could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. His success today is a stark reminder that even if you can’t see the light in a situation, it may just need more time to come into focus. For Hymas, that light shines when he goes into a room now.

As I close, I’m reminded of a famous Benjamin Franklin quote. “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” For those that missed the annual meeting, please know that you were missed, and we hope to reconnect with you throughout the year at different events and at next year’s meeting. During the remaining months of 2019, think about how will you deal with change. What choices will you make?

John’s Jottings over and out.

NEAFA Annual Meeting a Success

New Leaders Elected

Back Row: (L-R) Rick Zimmerman (Executive Director). Craig Newton, Ryan James, Mark Anderson, Blake Lutz, Kristan Reed, Greg McCulloch, Rick Grant (retiring Board member)  Front row: Andy Dugan, Immediate Past President, John Clark, President, Lon Stephens, Secretary, Barry Baetz, Treasurer, Danielle Penny Stroop, Vice President. Missing from photo: Janet Beken Smith, Corwin Holtz, Jenny Mills, Clayton Wood.

Back Row: (L-R) Rick Zimmerman (Executive Director). Craig Newton, Ryan James, Mark Anderson, Blake Lutz, Kristan Reed, Greg McCulloch, Rick Grant (retiring Board member)

Front row: Andy Dugan, Immediate Past President, John Clark, President, Lon Stephens, Secretary, Barry Baetz, Treasurer, Danielle Penny Stroop, Vice President. Missing from photo: Janet Beken Smith, Corwin Holtz, Jenny Mills, Clayton Wood.

The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance’s (NEAFA) 2019 Annual Meeting at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida was an outstanding multi day program of nationally recognized speakers From March 3-6. “This was a great meeting of over 100 members and guests that represent the best of the agribusiness industry,” said Rick Zimmerman, NEAFA’s Executive Director. “Positive reviews from attendees continue to roll in, and I personally think it was one of the best annual meetings that we’ve ever had.” Incoming NEAFA President John Clark agreed. “I’ve attended an Annual Meeting since the mid 1990s for NEAFA or its predecessors,” said Clark.  “This was an incredible meeting content wise and the speakers were the best I have heard.  It would be hard to have attended the sessions and not come away with a great take home message or idea to implement.  People around me were incredibly moved after listening to Chad Hymas, in ways they could not have imagined prior to his presentation .”

Highlights of the event included keynote presentations from Dr. Andy Novakovic, Sheila Webb Pierson, and Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, a dairy farmer panel discussion featuring successful northeast dairy farmers, and breakout sessions on commodity markets, becoming a better leader, and feed mill operational challenges. “The 2019 Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance annual meeting provided a great opportunity to learn about current topics facing agriculture and network with all aspects of the feed industry,” said Jenny Mills, a Senior Account Consultant for Distribution and Feed Companies.  “I really enjoyed interacting with the diverse membership of the alliance and discuss opportunities facing our industry as a whole.” Jeff Matuszczak, PAS of the Mercer Milling Company agreed. “The annual meeting was highlighted by a great line up of speakers and relevant topics,” said Matuszczak. “The producer panel was divided up by a unique group of dairy business owners, and it was one of the best panel experiences I have had in recent years, just superb. The breakout programs were informative and engaging, there was something for everyone. There was even plenty of time to interact with industry professionals and NEAFA members in a great environment.”

During the annual meeting, NEAFA also elected new officers and board members. Former Vice President John Clark was elected president, and board member Danielle Penny Stroop ascended to the Vice Presidents’ seat. New board members include Dr. Kristan Reed of Cornell University and Jeff Matuszczak of Mercer Milling. Board members Corwin Holtz and Blake Lutz are returning to the Board for their second terms.

NEAFA was also proud to present charter member Bill Colton with the Distinguished Service Award, the highest accolade that the organization can give to recognize not only someone’s service to NEAFA, but to the entire agricultural industry throughout their career. “Bill Colton was very deserving of this award,” said Zimmerman. “It’s hard to think of anyone else that has worked as hard to promote and advance agribusiness more than Bill, and we wish him the best in his retirement.”

Another highlight of the annual meeting was the presentation by motivational speaker Chad Hymas. He has taken his personal tragedy - which left him as a wheelchair bound paraplegic - and used it to become one of the best speakers in the world. Hymas helps to lift your own ambitions and achieve new heights.   “If Chad Hymas can overcome adversity on a daily basis, travel hundreds of thousands of miles each year to deliver a solid, emotional, and captivating message of perseverance and overcoming defeat, then anyone can achieve their life goals,” said Zimmerman.

Wrapping up the annual meeting was a farm tour exploring Florida’s dairy and citrus fruit industries. On the dairy side, NEAFA visited Dakin Dairy in Myakka City, FL. Dakin Dairy is a 2400 cow, 1000 acre dairy farm with a milk processing plant that produces a complete spectrum of dairy products including fluid milk, soft and hard cheeses and other cultured products. 

Attendees also got to visit Mixon Fruit Farms in Bradenton, FL specializes in citrus and has been in business for 76 years. Rated #1 Florida citrus farm for touring, Mixon features a full range of citrus products in their large retail shop adjacent to their processing facility.

NEAFA Presents Charter Member Bill Colton with Distinguished Service Award

Andy Dugan (right) with Bill Colton (left).

Andy Dugan (right) with Bill Colton (left).

The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) was proud to present charter member Bill Colton with the Distinguished Service Award, the highest accolade that the organization can give to recognize not only someone’s service to NEAFA, but to the entire agricultural industry throughout their career during the 2019 Annual Meeting. “Bill Colton is very deserving of this award,” said Rick Zimmerman, NEAFA Executive Director. “It’s hard to think of anyone else that has worked as hard to promote and advance agribusiness more than Bill, and we wish him the best in his retirement.”

Colton retired at the end of December from Mercer Milling, where he was the owner from 1989-2016, and the president until December. “We manufacture custom vitamin and mineral pre-mixes and sell specialty products predominately in the northeast,” said Colton. “I’ve always liked to tell people that we’re like a one a day for a dairy cow,” he laughed.

Colton’s history with Mercer Milling goes farther back then his tenure as owner and president. His father, James Colton, bought Mercer in 1965. -“Back then it was a feed and flour mill in Baldwinsville, NY,” said Colton It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Colton and his father got Mercer into making pre-mixes. When his father passed away, Colton took over the reins and guided the company in new profitable directions.

“There’s been a lot of changes, in the industry,” laughed Colton. “Basically the size of the farms have increased, the way cows were fed back then in the 70’s versus currently - everyone is trying to maximize output and yields for milk protein and butterfats, and the science behind that has advanced along with all the different new products that are coming out on the market.”

For Colton, embracing those changes were a defining part of his career. “My proudest moment,” said Colton, “is being able to take Mercer Milling from a place where everything was labor intensive and manual, and bringing it to having one of the fullest automated pre-mix plants in the Northeast.”

Colton’s involvement with NEAFA began with the merger of Eastern Federation of Feed Merchants (EFFM, an organization of feed manufacturers in NY), and New England Feed and Grain to create NEAFA. Colton started with EFFM in 1992, and was the president at the time of the merger. “It was pretty exciting times to see that come together.”

Going forward with retirement, Colton is hoping to “get out and enjoy life by doing some traveling and playing some golf. I’m definitely planning on putting together a team for the Golf for Good Works tournament.”

Novakovic to NEAFA members: Dairy Policy is More Than Prices


Dr. Andrew Novakovic, the E.V. Baker Professor of Agricultural Economics at Cornell University’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, addressed the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) members March 5th at their 2019 Annual Meeting and Forum at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida, with a message about the policy issues and decisions facing the US dairy industry. The US dairy industry continues to be faced with numerous significant issues, ranging from dairy policy and immigration reform, to animal welfare and world trade.  “The choice of more or less government involvement will be a foundational element for how we resolve these various issues”, said Novakovic.  “Industry self-regulation vs third party oversight or government intervention are choices we face on a number of fronts.”

Novakovic also spoke about how often discussions fail to address the root problem of a subject. “Public policy discourse tends to be dominated by debate about solutions”, said Novakovic. “Less often do we debate and discuss the actual problem; what it is and how bad it is. Almost never do we talk about our values or how we might bridge the gaps between our values. Often a disagreement about the best solution is really a disagreement about what is the basic problem or what a desired outcome is.”

For the dairy industry, Novakovic adds that the scope of dairy policy needs to be increased. “Dairy policy isn’t just pricing and prices. It’s also about income support, trade, the environment, worker justice, animal welfare and food nutrition and health. All of these issues impact the dairy industry and must be adequately addressed if US dairy farmers are to remain economically viable and globally competitive.”

The US dairy industry must also take a global look as it moves forward. “Trade policy is one of the most important policy discussions in the world today,” emphasized Novakovic. Around the world people and governments seem to be questioning the merits of open economies, with viewpoints returning to notions of mercantilism and protectionism, as opposed to comparative advantage and globalism.”

Novakovic was however optimistic for the future of the industry going forward. “US dairy has a great story to tell and farmers are the best spokespeople to tell it. Provided we address these issues, we will remain a global supplier of milk and dairy products for the 2020’s and many years beyond.”

Van Eenennaam: Food marketers undermining ability to use science and technology to feed the world


Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Davis Cooperative Extension Specialist, told the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) members at their 2019 Annual Meeting and Forum at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida on March 5th, 2019 that food marketers are using fear tactics to increase consumer sales, destroying agriculture’s ability to employ the latest peer reviewed science to address global food sustainability.

Van Eenennaam demonstrated how science and technology has enabled animal agriculture to reduce its carbon footprint, yet misinformation and fear-mongering by food marketers has forced the dairy industry to increase methane emissions due to the loss of bovine somatropin (rBST) in dairy herds. “Our milk results in 7% more methane emissions per glass because we cater to fear-mongering about safe technology to increase our sales,” said Van Eenennaam.

“The evidence is clear”, added Van Eenennaam. “Fear compels people to react and food marketing companies are exploiting this fact to the detriment of production agriculture. They prey on a parent’s instinctive desire to protect the health of their children by using lies to scare them into paying more for absence-labeled foods, or worse to avoid fresh produce altogether due to misguided fears of GMOs or pesticides. This is the most unethical and disingenuous way to increase market share imaginable. There is a need to defend objective truth – especially around food & agriculture – because ‘alternative ag facts’ harm sustainability.”

Why should consumers care, asked Van Eenennaam? “Because GM (genetic modification) has facilitated reductions in pesticide use & environmental footprint of agricultural production, leading to a 50% decrease in global insecticide use on cotton as a result of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis genetically modified) cotton. Genetically engineered crops reduced global pesticide spraying by 618.7 million kg (approximately 8.1%), and as a result, decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on these crops by 18.6%. Use of bovine somatropin would have increased feed efficiency and decreased the environmental impact of our dairy herd. When we monetize fear by precluding farmer access to safe technology, which has been proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions & global insecticide use, we HARM biodiversity & beneficial insects.”

CT, ME Dairy Nutrition Conferences a Success

Agri Mark’s Bob Wellington (L) and Farm Credit East’s Chris Laughton (R) join UConn’s Dairy Science professor Sheila Andrew at the March 21st Dairy Nutrition Conference in Windsor Locks CT.

Agri Mark’s Bob Wellington (L) and Farm Credit East’s Chris Laughton (R) join UConn’s Dairy Science professor Sheila Andrew at the March 21st Dairy Nutrition Conference in Windsor Locks CT.

The annual dairy nutrition conferences hosted by the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) and co-hosted by UConn, the University of Maine, and the Maine Dairy Industry Association, were held March 20th and 21st. Dr. Tom Oelberg presented at both conferences, focusing on practical advice to assure a total mixed ration provides a balanced ration to cows, every bite, all the time. “Farmers were able to get good practical advice that can be applied immediately on the farm” stated Andy Dugan, General Manager of Gold Star Feed and Grain and exiting NEAFA president. “I believe NEAFA fulfilled its educational mission through hosting these two conferences.”

Other conference speakers included Dr. Leslie Forstadt (ME), who talked about dealing with on farm stress, Dr. Mike Van Amburgh (CT), who focused on Nutrition Models to Evaluate Environmental Issues, and Agri Mark’s Bob Wellington and Farm Credit East’s Chris Laughton (CT), who tag teamed on the economic and policy issues impacting the dairy industry.

The Maine conference is held in conjunction with the Maine dairy Industry Association’s annual meeting and the event drew about 100 people. The Connecticut event was slightly smaller at 50 people, but still an enthusiastic crowd.

NEAFA would again like to thank all of the agribusiness sponsors who made both events possible. With your help, we can continue to educate the dairy industry on the latest improvements and best practices for the industry to grow.

Phoenix Feed & Nutrition - Vermont Feed Company Enters 15th year

Phoenix Feed & Nutrition - Vermont Feed Company Enters 15th year

Phoenix Feed & Nutrition, based in New Haven, VT, has been steadily growing for the past 15 years. “When we started it was just Brian Elithorpe, myself, and one employee,” said David Santos, co-owner of the company. Craig Newton, current co-owner and a former colleague of Santos at Feed Commodities International, joined the company in 2007. Currently Phoenix Feed & Nutrition employs 61 employees, and run 28 trucks and trailers to haul their commodities through 7 different states. “We’re predominately a dairy feed, trailer load business, but also do poultry, rabbits, goats, etc.,” said Santos. “We work with a lot of big farms and have customers in all of the New England States, as well as New York. It’s amazing how fast we’ve grown in 15 years and what we’ve been able to do.”

One area that Phoenix has recently invested in is organic feed, under their Organix brand. “We started the organic feed company in 2016 when we bought a pellet mill in Brandon, VT, and that’s been a good thing,” said Santos. “It’s grown considerably in the last two years and the pellet sales have opened up new markets for us.”

Another area where Phoenix has grown is through their quarterly magazine, Perspectives: Dairy Farming in the Northeast, a quarterly publication that according to Phoenix “gives a voice to Vermont’s and surrounding states’ dairy farmers.” It reaches approximately 40-50,000 readers each issue. “The magazine shows people who we are,” said Santos. “If you want to attract good people you want to have a good corporate image, and our website and magazine are the face of that.”

“We don’t do any other advertising, and we were looking for a way to profile our customers,” said Santos. “When you look at the magazine you can see it’s not a Phoenix propaganda piece - we want it to be about our customers and how hard they work. There’s a lot of people that read the magazine that aren’t farmers, and we try to appeal them as well. When you get to talking to people like this for an article, it’s amazing how much more you learn about your customers and the stories they have to tell.” The magazine is also a family affair for Santos, since his wife Ann Louise Santos is the Senior Copy Editor.

Santos also credits their continued growth to searching for ways to stay efficient during lean times in the industry. “2018 was a really tough year for farmers in general because of low milk prices, and as a result the agricultural community struggled as well,” said Santos. “And it’s kind of looking the same way for 2019 to be honest. We’re always looking for efficiencies in manufacturing - we try to make sure to have back hauls on trucks so they’re full both ways, it’s all about keeping costs down. Nutritionally, we have 4 nutritionists and 18 others hired by the farms. It’s about trying to find ways to feed cows as efficiently as possibly without hurting health and herd production.”

Going forward, Phoenix Feed & Nutrition plans to continue expanding into new markets and increasing their visibility through social media and their magazine, which is slated for its 19th issue soon. For more information on the company, visit

We Should Stop Blaming Cows for Climate Change

We Should Stop Blaming Cows for Climate Change

by Frank M. Mitloehner, Professor of Animal Science and Air Quality Extension Specialist at the University of California, Davis

 As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

 My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences.

 Setting the record straight on meat and greenhouse gases

 A healthy portion of meat’s bad rap centers on the assertion that livestock is the largest source of greenhouse gases worldwide. For example, a 2009 analysis published by the Washington, D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute asserted that 51 percent of global GHG emissions come from rearing and processing livestock.

 According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the largest sources of U.S. GHG emissions in 2016 were electricity production (28 percent of total emissions), transportation (28 percent) and industry (22 percent). All of agriculture accounted for a total of 9 percent. All of animal agriculture contributes less than half of this amount, representing 3.9 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. That’s very different from claiming livestock represents as much or more than transportation.

 Why the misconception? In 2006 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization published a study titled “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” which received widespread international attention. It stated that livestock produced a staggering 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The agency drew a startling conclusion: Livestock was doing more to harm the climate than all modes of transportation combined.

 This latter claim was wrong, and has since been corrected by Henning Steinfeld, the report’s senior author. The problem was that FAO analysts used a comprehensive life-cycle assessment to study the climate impact of livestock, but a different method when they analyzed transportation.

 For livestock, they considered every factor associated with producing meat. This included emissions from fertilizer production, converting land from forests to pastures, growing feed, and direct emissions from animals (belching and manure) from birth to death.

 However, when they looked at transportation’s carbon footprint, they ignored impacts on the climate from manufacturing vehicle materials and parts, assembling vehicles and maintaining roads, bridges and airports. Instead, they only considered the exhaust emitted by finished cars, trucks, trains and planes. As a result, the FAO’s comparison of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock to those from transportation was greatly distorted.

 I pointed out this flaw during a speech to fellow scientists in San Francisco on March 22, 2010, which led to a flood of media coverage. To its credit, the FAO immediately owned up to its error. Unfortunately, the agency’s initial claim that livestock was responsible for the lion’s share of world greenhouse gas emissions had already received wide coverage. To this day, we struggle to “unring” the bell.

 In its most recent assessment report, the FAO estimated that livestock produces 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. There is no comparable full life-cycle assessment for transportation. However, as Steinfeld has pointed out, direct emissions from transportation versus livestock can be compared and amount to 14 versus 5 percent, respectively.

Giving up meat won’t save the climate

Many people continue to think avoiding meat as infrequently as once a week will make a significant difference to the climate. But according to one recent study, even if Americans eliminated all animal protein from their diets, they would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by only 2.6 percent. According to our research at the University of California, Davis, if the practice of Meatless Monday were to be adopted by all Americans, we’d see a reduction of only 0.5 percent.

Moreover, technological, genetic and management changes that have taken place in U.S. agriculture over the past 70 years have made livestock production more efficient and less greenhouse gas-intensive. According to the FAO’s statistical database, total direct greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. livestock have declined 11.3 percent since 1961, while production of livestock meat has more than doubled.

Demand for meat is rising in developing and emerging economies, with the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia leading the way. But per capita meat consumption in these regions still lags that of developed countries. In 2015, average annual per capita meat consumption in developed countries was 92 kilograms, compared to 24 kilograms in the Middle East and North Africa and 18 kilograms in Southeast Asia.

Still, given projected population growth in the developing world, there will certainly be an opportunity for countries such as the United States to bring their sustainable livestock rearing practices to the table.

The value of animal agriculture

Removing animals from U.S. agriculture would lower national greenhouse gas emissions to a small degree, but it would also make it harder to meet nutritional requirements. Many critics of animal agriculture are quick to point out that if farmers raised only plants, they could produce more pounds of food and more calories per person. But humans also need many essential micro- and macronutrients for good health.

It’s hard to make a compelling argument that the United States has a calorie deficit, given its high national rates of adult and child obesity. Moreover, not all plant parts are edible or desirable. Raising livestock is a way to add nutritional and economic value to plant agriculture.

As one example, the energy in plants that livestock consume is most often contained in cellulose, which is indigestible for humans and many other mammals. But cows, sheep and other ruminant animals can break cellulose down and release the solar energy contained in this vast resource. According to the FAO, as much as 70 percent of all agricultural land globally is range land that can only be utilized as grazing land for ruminant livestock.

The world population is currently projected to reach 9.8 billion people by 2050. Feeding this many people will raise immense challenges. Meat is more nutrient-dense per serving than vegetarian options, and ruminant animals largely thrive on feed that is not suitable for humans. Raising livestock also offers much-needed income for small-scale farmers in developing nations. Worldwide, livestock provides a livelihood for 1 billion people.

Climate change demands urgent attention, and the livestock industry has a large overall environmental footprint that affects air, water and land. These, combined with a rapidly rising world population, give us plenty of compelling reasons to continue to work for greater efficiencies in animal agriculture. I believe the place to start is with science-based facts.

Frank M. Mitloehner is a Professor of Animal Science and an Air Quality Extension Specialist at the University of California, Davis. Visit his website. Follow him on Twitter @GHGGuru

This article originally ran at the Conversation as Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate and has been republished here with permission.

Northeast Agribusiness & Feed Alliance and NYS FFA Foundation Announce Inaugural Scholarship Winners

Northeast Agribusiness & Feed Alliance and NYS FFA Foundation Announce Inaugural Scholarship Winners 

John Clark, Vice President of the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance announced the winners of four college scholarships to worthy recipients planning to enroll in agricultural studies. Three of the recipients include (L to R) Anna Post, Bovina Center, NY, Alexis Payne, Glenfield, NY and Karly Marshman, Oxford, NY. Nathan Swede, Pavilion, NY is the fourth recipient of a $500 scholarship.

John Clark, Vice President of the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance announced the winners of four college scholarships to worthy recipients planning to enroll in agricultural studies. Three of the recipients include (L to R) Anna Post, Bovina Center, NY, Alexis Payne, Glenfield, NY and Karly Marshman, Oxford, NY. Nathan Swede, Pavilion, NY is the fourth recipient of a $500 scholarship.

The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) announced the inaugural four recipients of a joint NEAFA and NYS FFA Foundation scholarship on Thursday, February 21st, 2019, at the NYS FFA Ag Education NY Farm Show. “This year is the first of what we hope will be many to come in awarding scholarships to worthy high school seniors,” said Andy Dugan, President of NEAFA. The scholarship is for individuals entering college to study in a field of agriculture. Winners are Alexis Payne of Glenfield, NY, Karly Marshman of Oxford, NY, Anna Post of Bovina Center, NY, and Nathan Swede of Pavilion, NY. Recipients were awarded $500.

Alexis Payne is currently deciding between SUNY Cobleskill or Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She plans on obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences with a focus on Dairy Science and a minor in Agricultural Education. “I would like to earn a job as either a Dairy Nutritionist or an Agriculture Education Teacher, depending on the route I decide to take,” said Payne. “Either way, I am going to continue my future in the industry that I love.”

Karly Marshman plans to attend SUNY Morrisville in the fall of 2019. “I will be completing an associates degree in Agricultural Science and finishing my bachelors degree in Agricultural Business,” said Marshman. “Once I complete my bachelors degree I will go on to complete my masters degree in Agricultural Education! I hope to complete my studies as of the year 2023 and start teaching Agricultural Education in New York State soon after that!”

Anna Post plans to attend SUNY Cobleskill to get a degree in Ag Science/Agronomy and or Ag Policy. Her goals are to “work with one of our local elected representatives to voice the importance of agriculture and advocate for the importance of dairy farms, and family owned farms. I want to advocate for the dairy industry in hopes that the issues present in the industry would be aided, and eventually resolved. I also plan to return to the family farm, and make improvements in the herd and on the farm, because the farm is very important to me.”

Nathan Swede is still searching for the right college to attend, but is planning to study business and the crop side of agriculture. “I believe attending a nice college will teach me these skills to be successful down the road in my career,” said Swede. “Different classes like accounting, marketing, agronomy, and many others should translate well for me in what I want to do.”

Todd Lighthall, Executive Director of the NYS FFA Foundation, is pleased to collaborate with NEAFA. “We’ve had an increasingly close working relationship with NEAFA, and we were thrilled when they approached us with the idea for this new scholarship,” said Lighthall. “We provided the administration in terms of getting the word out, accepting applications, and making scholarship determinations. We look forward to continuing this very positive partnership.”

Funding for the scholarship comes from NEAFA’s Good Works Program, which has awarded over $100,000 to worthy causes that promote the advancement of the animal agriculture industry throughout the Northeastern United States.


The Northeast Agribusiness & Feed Alliance is a trade association of agribusiness companies including feed, seed, fertilizer, financial services, transportation, veterinary, nutritional services, and professional advisors committed to a thriving Northeast agricultural community. NEAFA provides professional support to agribusiness through advocacy, collaboration and educational services. For more information about the scholarship please visit

NEAFA welcomes Beth Meyer as Keynote Speaker at Annual Meeting

NEAFA welcomes Beth Meyer as Keynote Speaker at Annual Meeting

Beth Meyer, the Director of Consumer Confidence for American Dairy Association North East, will be joining NEAFA's annual meeting as a keynote speaker. Meyer has completed dozens of media interviews with local and national print and broadcast media outlets on topics ranging from farm energy efficiencies and sustainability efforts, consumer milk pricing, the nutritional benefits of dairy products, and the annual butter sculpture at the New York State Fair.

Meyer also heads up the Crisis Management team for ADA North East and the New York Dairy Issues Team, where she serves as the point person in developing strategies, talking points, and response plans for issues affecting the dairy industry. She has also prepared a variety of diverse audiences, including dairy farmers, CAFO planners, Soil and Water staff, veterinarians and registered dietitians for both positive and potentially controversial media interviews.

The Monday, March 4th, 2019 Keynote Luncheon by Meyer will focus on “Telling Agriculture’s Story: Connecting and Finding Common Ground with Consumers,” with a breakout session on perfecting media interviews in the afternoon. For Meyer, this subject is “the paradox everyone in agriculture is familiar with: at a time when the average American is at least three generations removed from the farm, consumers have greater interest – and opinions- in what farmers do and how they do it.” Her presentation will look at consumer research and offer tips on how to connect and communicate with the families that purchase your products –in person, and using social/traditional media. 

The afternoon workshop will focus on how to identify potential story ideas, create messaging that connects with viewers/readers, ways to explain a complicated topic, and how to keep your cool. “I’m excited because both of these topics reflect my passion for storytelling,” said Meyers. “Everything from  the “discovery” aspect of finding a great story, the work of developing the story to make it interesting and relevant to your audience, and (hopefully) the ultimate payoff – when others hear the story and get as excited as I am about it. I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone at the upcoming conference and learning some new stories to tell from participants.”

The annual meeting March 3-5, 2019 at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando Florida. Convention rates at the resort are good from Tuesday February 26th through Friday March 8th, so show up early and stay late to enjoy all that Orlando has to offer. The annual meeting will also feature a golf tournament on March 5th and an optional farm tour of the region on March 6th that finishes in time for a late afternoon flight home.

With 255 acres on the banks of Shingle Creek, a source of the Everglades, Rosen Shingle Creek is a Spanish Revival style luxury hotel that offers access to the best of Orlando while visitors can enjoy stunning views of the region. The resort is also dedicated to keeping itself accessible for all guests, no matter ability or disability.

The Shingle Creek Golf Course's greens and fairways follow the creek and is lined with beautiful cypress trees. Designed in partnership with the Arnold Palmer Design Company, the course offers a challenge for even a seasoned golfer. The resort is also dedicated to keeping itself accessible for all guests, no matter ability or disability.

For more information on the NEAFA Annual Meeting, please click here.


NEAFA Advocating in Albany, Montpelier

NEAFA Advocating in Albany, Montpelier

Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance advocates were at it in Albany and Montpelier earlier this month fortifying our relationships with legislative leaders and lobbying for industry priorities.  The February 11th Albany Lobby day included over a dozen NEAFA volunteers and allies and they focused on priority state budget issues including PRO-DAIRY, FarmNet, Farm Viability Institute and Agricultural Workforce Specialist.  The state budget process will continue through the end of March.

NEAFA advocates were in Montpelier February 14th promoting a PRO-DAIRY Program for Vermont dairy farmers.  NEAFA, working in coalition with Vermont’s dairy industry, presented before House and Senate Agriculture Committees, encouraging their support for a state appropriation to bring PRO-DAIRY to Vermont.  Jim Walsh, of Phoenix Feeds and Caroline Potter of NY PRO-DAIRY, promoted the program’s abilities to provide dairy farmers with necessary management skills to weather the current economic downturn and thrive when milk prices improve.

The President's Pen by Andrew Dugan, President

President’s Pen, by Andy Dugan

2019 shows new growth for Northeast Dairymen and Northeast Agriculture Businesses   

If you will recall, fluid milk supply grew quickly in 2016, 2017, and early 2018.  Demand for soft and hard processed dairy products stayed firm, but fluid milk demand was dropping quickly.  This led to headlines that read "Northeast dairy farms dumping milk,” as milk processors across our area were forced to unload milk in farm manure pits.  

During 2018, total milk supply growth slowed and appears to be getting back in balance with demand.  Unfortunately this supply moderation has occurred just as some of our customers and friends have had to sell their cows and exit the business.  Additionally, remaining farm herd growth has remained slow compared to prior years.  

The new Farm Program has been released and has a very strong emphasis on risk management.  The USDA is heavily subsidizing insurance program premiums that help dairymen set predefined milk income over feed cost (i.e. margin).  Of course feed commodity risk management tools have long been available through feed companies as well as brokerage firms (i.e. commodity contracting).  As banks continue to review lines of credit with dairy customers there will be intense discussions over risk management, both for milk margin as well as locked in feed costs.  

The future milk prices for the rest of 2019 shows an increase in Class III milk by over $2.00/cwt with both firm fat and protein values.  This creates a great opportunity for nutritionists to focus on meeting dairymen's butterfat and protein production goals by applying the use of technology which can really increase milk components, and therefore, farm income as milk price increases. 

While none of the above points to a significant profitability increase, all of these reasons will make 2019 a very improved year for the Northeast Dairy Industry.  Farms and businesses that have their house in order are poised to capitalize in 2019! 

Meg Nelson Joins NEAFA Advocacy Team

Meg Nelson Joins NEAFA Advocacy Team

The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance is pleased to announce that Meg Nelson, of St Albans, VT will be representing NEAFA in the VT Statehouse.  Meg graduated from Vermont Technical College with an associate’s degree in Dairy Management and continued to finish a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and Business Management from the University of Vermont. Meg’s passion for agriculture makes her a perfect fit for collaborating with the greater agriculture industry and conveying the agribusiness perspective to legislative leaders in Montpelier.  Stay tuned for information on a Montpelier lobby day in March. 

Group Calls for Radical Change to World Diets

The report draws response from animal agriculture experts. Joel Newman criticizes commission on three critical, erroneous assumptions. 

The following article was first published by Sarah Muirhead in Feedstuffs.

A study looking at whether the future world population can be fed within planetary boundaries has found that it may indeed not be possible given how food is currently grown, processed, transported, consumed and wasted.

The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health conducted the study.

EAT is a global, nonprofit start-up with the stated mission of transforming the global food system.

The Lancet is a weekly medical journal owned by Elsevier. The EAT-Lancet Commission is one of several reports on nutrition being published by The Lancet in 2019. The next commission – The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition & Climate Change – will publish later in January.

Funding for the EAT-Lancet Commission study came from the Wellcome Trust and EAT. The Stockholm Resilience Centre was the scientific coordinator of the report.

Among the conclusions reached by the commission were that:

● “Feeding a growing population of 10 billion people by 2050 with a healthy and sustainable diet will be impossible without transforming eating habits, improving food production and reducing food waste. First scientific targets for a healthy diet that places healthy food consumption within the boundaries of our planet will require significant change but are within reach.

● “The daily dietary pattern consists of approximately 35% of calories as whole grains and tubers, protein sources mainly from plants -- but including approximately 14 g of red meat per day -- and 500 g per day of vegetables and fruits.

● “Moving to this new dietary pattern will require global consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar to decrease by about 50%, while consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes must double.

● “Unhealthy diets are the leading cause of ill health worldwide, and following the diet could avoid approximately 11 million premature deaths per year.

● “The diet can exist within planetary boundaries for food production such as use of land, nutrients, freshwater and biodiversity loss and climate change.”

The EAT-Lancet Commission is essentially proposing scientific targets for what it deems constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food system. Its campaign promotes diets consisting of a variety of plant-based foods, with low amounts of animal-based foods, refined grains, highly processed foods and added sugars, and with unsaturated rather than saturated fats.

“The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong,” said one of the commission authors, professor Tim Lang, City, University of London, U.K. “We need a significant overhaul, changing the global food system on a scale not seen before in ways appropriate to each country’s circumstances. While this is unchartered policy territory and these problems are not easily fixed, this goal is within reach, and there are opportunities to adapt international, local and business policies. The scientific targets we have devised for a healthy, sustainable diet are an important foundation which will underpin and drive this change.”

The commission is a three-year project that reportedly brings together 37 experts from 16 countries with expertise in health, nutrition, environmental sustainability, food systems, economics and political governance.

Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief at The Lancet, said: “The transformation that the commission calls for is not superficial or simple and requires a focus on complex systems, incentives and regulations, with communities and governments at multiple levels having a part to play in redefining how we eat. Our connection with nature holds the answer, and if we can eat in a way that works for our planet as well as our bodies, the natural balance of the planet’s resources will be restored. The very nature that is disappearing holds the key to human and planetary survival.”

Report draws a response

“Let’s call the EAT-Lancet Commission’s report what it is: yet another organized attack on animal agriculture that is not reflective of the current and accurate science on the industry’s substantial sustainability advances. We agree with the report’s authors that there is a need to continue producing sufficient food that both feeds our growing population and protects the planet. Unfortunately, the commission made three critical and erroneous assumptions: that there is consensus on the science behind their recommendations, that the advance of new technologies will not contribute to further reducing the environmental impact of animal protein production and that all sources of protein provide equivalent nutritional value for human diets," said Joel Newman, president and chief executive officer of the American Feed Industry Assn.

"The animal food industry has been working with farmers and ranchers, the scientific research community and other global partners – likely long before the report’s authors began touting a plant-based lifestyle – on bringing new technologies and enhanced nutritional formulas to the marketplace, significantly reducing the animal agriculture industry’s environmental impact while providing animals with optimal nutrition and health. The animal food industry is doing even more than ever before in benchmarking its environmental footprint and providing data to farmers and ranchers so they can make better decisions. Unfortunately, the report’s calls to return to primarily an ‘agrarian lifestyle’ will undo years of research and innovation while likely keeping nutritious and high-quality protein and dairy products out of the hands of the people who need them the most. The commission’s disingenuous claims, focused against animal agriculture, does the public a disservice by not discussing realistic, scientific solutions to addressing tomorrow’s food and environmental challenges," Newman added.

“U.S. farmers and ranchers lead the world in efficient practices that deliver unmatched nutrition while conserving natural resources and decreasing environmental impact. The EAT-Lancet Commission ignores evidence of meat and dairy’s contributions to healthy, sustainable diets. The commission’s radical recommendations to drastically limit meat and dairy consumption would have serious, negative consequences for the health of people and the planet," Animal Agriculture Alliance president and CEO Kay Johnson Smith said. "The EAT-Lancet recommendations (for example, to eat just a quarter-ounce of beef per day and drink just one cup of milk) risk worsening malnutrition, increasing food waste and distracting from the highest priorities for addressing greenhouse gas emissions. The science about the best path forward is clear: Meat and dairy are critical to high-quality nutrition, less food waste and efficient use of our precious natural resources.”

"In light of the changing global demographics and environmental challenges, the dairy sector understands the need to supply more food, more efficiently.  The dairy sector has long recognized that sustainability encompasses various elements, including the environment, socioeconomic aspects and nutrition. In order to reach the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, a broad range of solutions will be needed. It is not just about feeding the world a certain number of calories; it is about nourishing people with nutrient-rich food, like milk and dairy, that encourages optimal growth and performance," said International Dairy Federation president Dr. Judith Bryans and Global Dairy Platform executive director Donald Moore. "The dairy sector has an established record of embracing new practices and is an active participant in implementing innovative solutions to feed the world. As stewards of the planet, dairy farmers are constantly seeking ways to efficiently produce better food while reducing environmental impacts, caring responsibly for their animals and making the land better for the next generation. We are committed to engaging in an open conversation about the totality of the global food system."

“Modern U.S. livestock agriculture is a tremendous example of how the world can produce the nutritious, safe food people need while contributing less GHGs per calorie of food,” said National Pork Producers Council president Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Ohio. “The U.N. has said there are ‘limitations to emissions reductions in the agriculture sector particularly because of … providing food for a global population that is expected to continue to grow’ and that ‘it would be reasonable to expect emissions reductions in terms of improvements in efficiency rather than absolute reductions in GHG emissions."

“To address sustainability and undernourishment,” Heimerl added, “maybe the report’s authors should call on the European Union to drop its Draconian ‘precautionary principle’ that all-but prevents the use of new technologies and modern production practices. It’s those kinds of restrictions that are forcing farmers around the world to forego using scientifically proved technologies that produce more food and in a more environmentally friendly way.”

“Of course, climate change is real and does require our attention, and, yes, livestock should be optimized but also be used as part of the solution to make our environments and food systems more sustainable and our populations healthier. But instead of undermining the foundations of our diets and the livelihoods of many, we should be tackling rather than ignoring the root causes, in particular, hyperconsumerism. What we should avoid is losing ourselves in slogans, nutritional scientism and distorted worldviews,” Frédéric Leroy, professor of food science and technology who is investigating the scientific and societal aspects of animal food products, and Martin Cohen, a social scientist and author of I Think Therefore I Eat, noted in "European Food Agency News."

US Supreme Court Declines Involvement in Egg Law

The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) was part of the coalition that fought against the 2016 Massachusetts ballot proposal that dictated minimum cage sizes for hogs, poultry, and veal, because we know that animal scientists, not the general public, are the experts on animal husbandry practices. Unfortunately we lost the ballot battle but we had confidence that the courts would weigh in on the interstate commerce issues. That optimism was dashed when the Supreme Court refused to take the case. In an extraordinary move, the Trump Administration weighed in on the matter when the Justice Department urged the Supreme not to take the case.

This sequence of events demonstrates the fragility of the social contract between farmers and the general public. Despite our knowledge on how to best treat livestock, we cannot assume that the best animal husbandry practices will be permitted by a society that increasingly wants to have a say in what we do. Further, the anti-animal agriculture crowd will continue to exploit the political process to carry out their agenda. The animal agriculture industry is facing challenges from many fronts, yet the court’s decision, or lack thereof, may be the biggest threat yet.

The following article was written by David A. Lieb for the Associated Press, reporting on the U.S. Supreme Court decision and state lawsuits. 

Please click here to read the article.