April 29, 2022

Greetings to all! 

This issue of GA Dairy ENews covers a variety of topics, ranging from farm management of the volatility found at every level of cost and income, to Ransomware, which is proving to be a real and present threat to agribusiness and farms.  

Spring is challenging enough, but world conditions have have us all concerned about what a future may hold. That said, we can find time to be grateful - grateful that we live in the USA with our freedoms, grateful for lovely spring days, grateful to watch corn grow and blow in the breeze, grateful for the ability to hear a child's laughter or see a graduate walk across a stage, grateful for the sweet melody of birdsong, or be grateful for the ability to visit grandparents or special neighbors.

Wishing each of you many of those "let's be grateful" moments in the weeks ahead! 

Contents: (Scroll for additional info on each)

  • Georgia Dairy Events: GA Milk Producers Referendum, ACCM, Dairy Youth Events; Flavor of Georgia, Ag Legislation Signed
  • Shawn Dyal: Formal Announcement as Interim CEO of SMI
  • FMMOs & Production: GA Cow Numbers Up, Depooling Continues; FMMO Basics
  • Farm Business: Managing Risk in Volatile Times; Risk Management Tools Compared
  • Policy Events: Florida & PMVAP Comparisons; Watchlist: Federal Farmland Appreciation Tax Proposal
  • Products: Chobani discontinues Ultra-Filtered Milk after 2 months
  • Warnings: Ransomware Threats are Real & Happening - Is your farm or business prepared?


WATCH YOUR MAILBOX - Georgia Milk Producers Referendum Ballots 

As most of you know, Georgia Milk Producers is funded by a $0.01/cwt deduction from producer milk checks. That deduction must be approved by a referendum, which is held every 3 years; 2022 is a year for that referendum.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture is mailing those ballots, and producers should be receiving them in the mail very shortly. They can be returned from May 1-30. A two-thirds (2/3) majority approval per ballots returned is required to ensure the continuation of Georgia Milk Producers, Inc.

Georgia Milk Producers, Inc. conducts a variety of activities on behalf of producers. The organization organizes the Georgia Dairy Conference and other meetings, advocates on behalf of producer issues in legislative matters on a state and federal level, and provides information services for dairy producers.



The Georgia Milk Commission will meet Tuesday, May 24th, at 10 am.  

All Georgia Dairy Farmers are invited to attend. The meeting will take place at The Perry Welcome Center, 101 General Courtney Hodges Blvd, Perry GA. (This is the road on the west side of the fairgrounds.) The Milk Commission determines the spending of Dairy Checkoff dollars for promotion and education purposes.

April 2022: Results of 2022 GA Dairy Judging & Evaluation - posted at GDYF Blog

April 22, 2022:  Flavor of Georgia Grand Prize Goes to Hart Dairy   Hart Dairy's Chocolate Whole Milk has been selected as the Grand Prize Winner of the ‘Flavor of Georgia’ Competition for foods and beverages produced in Georgia.

Of 148 original contestants, the field was narrowed to 32 finalists, before category champions were named. Congratulations! The ‘Flavor of Georgia’ is a University of Georgia event, hosted by the Department of Food Science and Technology.

April 13, 2022: Gov. Kemp Signs Legislation Supporting GA's Ag Industry, by WALB News Team

Governor Kemp recently signed three bills important to the entirety of Georgia's ag sector - 1. The Freedom to Farm Act (HB 1150), 2.) the Farm to Food Bank Legislation (SB 396), and 3.) HB 1303, which expands Elementary Agriculture Education. His comments related to each include:

  • The Freedom to Farm Act"Since the founding of Georgia centuries ago, agriculture has been the foundation of our economic success . . . Agribusiness continues to be our #1 Industry. That will always be one of the defining traits of the Peach State."
  • Farm to Food Bank Legislation: "The Farm to Foodbank legislation does something I’m always supportive of, it makes state government more efficient. By updating the code section of this program - first established in 1998 and both underutilized and never funded until now - we are connecting foodbanks in need directly with farmers who will benefit from being able to bring more products to market . . . Now, we are investing $800,000 to bring new life into the program and combat food insecurity."
  • Expansion of Elementary Agriculture Education:  "Farming is the oldest and some would say the most important of professions, because without it none of the other professions would exist. Food is one of the most basic of human needs. When that need isn’t met, very little else matters.  That’s why we need not only to support and protect today’s farmers, we also need to cultivate the generations of farmers that will follow them."

April 27, 2022: "Georgia to Begin Allowing Raw Milk Sales," by Karen Bohnert, for Dairy Herd Management.  Georgia dairy producer Marvin Yoder is quoted, along with Dr. Nick Place, Dean and Director of the UGA College of Agriculture and Science.


Shawn Dyal formally announced as Interim CEO of Southeast Milk, Inc.

(News release posted April 26, 2022 at Southeast Milk, Inc. Facebook / Instagram)

The Board of Directors of Southeast Milk, Inc. (SMI) has elected Shawn Dyal as the interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Southeast Milk, Inc, effective April 2022. With more than 20 years of experience at SMI, Dyal’s knowledge and skills will benefit the cooperative members and Southeastern dairy industry alike.

“With such extensive experience within Southeast Milk, Inc., we are confident that Dyal is poised for greatness in this new role. He has an admirable history with our cooperative, as well as throughout the dairy industry. We know that because of his work ethic, analytical abilities, and desire to grow and succeed, he will help lead our organization to incredible heights,” said SMI President Jacob Larson.

Dyal began his career with SMI in 1996 as an employee of the Tampa Independent Dairy Farmers' Association, Inc. (TIDFA) warehouse before TIDFA merged with the Florida Dairy Farmers' Association (FDFA) to form Southeast Milk, Inc. in 1998. He was moved into a route sales role with SMI and later promoted to the warehouse manager position at the SMI Supply Store located in Mayo, Florida. He was promoted once again in to the role of Director of Supply for SMI. In 2016, Dyal began working for IBA Inc. as a dairy specialist focused on milk quality throughout the Southeast, Texas, and New Mexico. In May 2021, Dyal accepted the opportunity to return to SMI as the Director of Supply and was given the chance to lead SMI as the Interim CEO in April 2022.

“My ultimate goal for Southeast Milk is to bring more money back to the cooperative members. By reducing costs and driving efficiencies, we can return more of their milk check back to our dairy farmers,” said Shawn Dyal, SMI, Inc. Interim CEO. “We have to be concerned with the sustainability of the dairy industry and I look forward to working with producers from cooperatives across the Southeast to increase profitability for all farmers.”

“We are proud to announce this news and welcome the industry to join us in congratulating Mr. Dyal on this exciting chapter with SMI!” said SMI President Jacob Larson.


FMMO and Production News

April 20, 2022: March 2022 Milk Production Still Down, but Cow Numbers Jump, by Dave Natzke, for Progressive Dairy.  Highlights from the report:

  • Georgia up 7,000 cows in March 2022 vs. March 2021
  • Florida down 11,000 cows in March 2022 vs. March 2021
  • Georgia unchanged in Milk pounds per cow; FL down 10 lbs. milk/cow (Mar 22 vs. Mar. 21)

April 24, 2022: "FMMO Uniform Prices, Class IV Depooling March On," by Dave Natzke, for Progressive Dairy.  

  • Notes that, once again, the current 'average of + 74 cents' formula lessened final prices paid to producers; Progressive Dairy calculates 79 cents/cwt less.
  • The Appalachian, Southeast, and Florida markets likely affected most
  • Incentives for depooling are still at play in final amounts of milk checks

February 28, 2022: "The Logic Behind FMMO Pricing,"  by Geoff Vanden Heuvel, a perspective published by Progressive Dairy.  Breaks down the 'whys' behind the basics of the FMMO pricing system we have now. This article may help with understanding the current system as changes are discussed going forward.


BUSINESS: Managing Risk

March 23, 2022:  David Kohl offers advice for Managing Dairies during Volatile Times, a report of a presentation of the highly respected Dr. David Kohl, from the 2022 Professional Dairy Producers Meeting held in Wisconsin on March 16. Many key reminders in this article, with these particular highlights:

  • Set goals and Write them down. Folks who do that make 9% more money than those who don't.
  • Look at your finances every month, and take ownership of your numbers.
  • Key question: can your business handle a 10% decline in income, and a 3% rise in interest rates?

Additionally, he noted that "operations with debt-to-asset ratios of over 50% can still be successful if they meet five conditions:

  • They are in the top 25% in production and cost efficiency.
  • They make modest personal withdrawals.
  • They have working capital backup.
  • They have a marketing risk management plan.
  • They have luck with weather and disease."

April 18, 2022: "April-May Dairy Risk Management: Consider Calendar, Premiums," by Dave Natzke, for Progressive Dairy

  • Comparisons of Dairy RP, LGM-Dairy, and DMC under different scenarios
  • One suggestion is that LGM-Dairy may be preferable under current market conditions
  • Producers should remember that market conditions may change quickly
  • Article for consideration only - each producer should evaluate their own individual situation carefully under each scenario


General Policy Events; Perspectives

April 24, 2022: Florida Dairy Farmer Wishes Congress Would Listen Up in Preparation for Next Farm Bill, by Karen Bohnert for Dairy Herd Management. 

Brittany Nickerson-Thurlow, of Nickerson Cattle Company, LLC, Hardee County, FL, explains the differences in how recent policy implementations, pandemic policy included, have affected their herd vs. operations with multiple herds. Information to be considered before next Farm Bill. 

April 21, 2022: Proposed Tax Increase on Farmland Gets Pushback from US Representative, by Rhonda Brooks for AgWeb. A program dubbed the "Mark-to-Market" tax is designed to allow taxing the increases in value of cropland, and is at play in Congress. Some say it has little chance of passing, while others encourage a watchful eye and scrutiny. 


April 26, 2022:  Chobani ends production of its ultra-filtered milk product, by Elaine Watson for Food Navigator. Inflation said to be a factor, along with perhaps some decisions made by new managers at the company. However, Chobani half-and-half is staying. 

Additional information is found in this Food Dive article, credited with breaking the story.


DAILY OPERATIONS: Ransomware Threats & Warnings

Feb. 21, 2021:  What if GPS Goes Down?, by John Phipps, for AgWeb. Written in 2021, this opinion piece on the cautions of breakdowns in all things tech and GPS should be reviewed, and each farm should perhaps consider a contingency plan. Recent and current world events make this even more timely than when it was first published. 

April 24, 2022: FBI Warns of Ransomware Attacks on Farming Co-ops during Planting, Harvest Seasons, by Eduard Kovacs for Security Week.

March 18, 2022: "Hackers hit Hood, Dairy Shut Down Milk Production after Cyber Security Event," by Anissa Gardizy for The Boston Globe. 13 plants were temporarily shut down earlier this spring out of an 'abundance of caution.' Sherry Bunting has had social media posts noting Lactose-Free products were particularly affected. 

Sep 23, 2021: "US Issues Conti Alert as Second Farming Cooperative Hit by Ransomware," by Eduard Kovacs for Security Week.

Be safe and dairy on!

Julie Walker, for GA Milk Producers

Be the MILK Example!


Be your own enthusiastic salesperson for the product you produce!


When you are in a restaurant or ordering at a drive-thru, let the general public see you purchasing and drinking milk!

If you don't tell the public that you produce a product worthy of purchasing and drinking, who will? Set an example!

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