A Big Week in Dairy: PFAS, Milk Labelling, Cheese Price

Dairy Report 101519
Art Schaap dairy in New Mexico ( Bob Morgan )

Imagine having to cull your entire 4,000 cow farm. That is the sad reality of Art Schaap, a New Mexico dairy farmer whose dairy has been impacted by PFAS contamination. 

Schaap says he was forced to file a lawsuit against the ten manufacturers of the fire retardant used at a nearby Air Force base and plans to file against the Department of Defense, since they denied his claim to settle. Since the outbreak, Schaap has been forced to let go of all but nine of his 40 employees.

Amidst troubles in New Mexico, milk labeling concerns have caught national attention.

Dean Foods has announced it is leaving the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) over concerns of how plant-based beverages are labelled. 

In a statement, the company said, “We believe it is wrong that many plant-based products are currently marketed using milk's good name yet are lacking several of the inherent nutrients of their dairy counterparts.”

Yet with these two concerns, there is cause for one celebration.

Mike North, a commodity risk management analyst, told national reporter Betsy Jibben October milk hit $19.72, the highest milk prices have been in the last five years. 

A large influence in milk price was the cheese market. Cheese prices moved from mid-$1.80 all the way up to $2.23 before falling back down to $1.90. Amidst such volatility, North cautioned against optimism.

“The reality of $17 milk as you go back in the last five years is that it sits at the top end of what’s been the normal range,” North says. 

The volatility will influence both near-term and longer contracts.

“What you need to be thinking about is not just, ‘How do I manage this current opportunity with the prices that I love?’ but what then do I do with these prices that are further out in January, February and out through June?”

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