Two events are rocking the dairy world: Beginning Friday, consumers will face as much as a 5-cents-per-quart increase in the retail price of Class I (drinking) milk as Western New York producers are scheduled to receive a record high $18.09 per hundredweight for it. That's equivalent to 39 cents per quart, nearly 5 cents more than they are getting for September milk and nearly 9 cents above the August price. It all relates to a July-August shortage of cheese that has since eased. Milk prices here are affected by cheese prices elsewhere. Prices should level off in November and beyond.
New York protests against the proposed milk marketing changes were rejected by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, who was caught in the middle of what he likened to a dairy industry "civil war." That economic clash has pitted dairy farmers in the cheese-rich states of Wisconsin and Minnesota against dairy farmers in most other parts of the nation. Simply put, milk used to make cheese returns less money to farmers than milk sold for drinking, and the Upper Midwestern farmers want to reduce or end the price differences. But that narrowing would come from the pockets of Northeast and other farmers.
Last Friday, four dairy co-ops -- Upstate and Dairylea in New York and Agrimark and St. Albanss in Vermont -- asked the federal district court in Vermont for a temporary injunction to prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture's federal milk marketing order reforms from taking hold on Friday. Among other effects, the reform would reduce by 54 cents to $1.04 per hundredweight the Class I milk price that more than 7,500 New York dairy farmers and several thousand more in other Northeast states would receive. Estimates based on 1998 figures suggest that the annual cash drop to New York dairy farmers would range from $17 million to $34 million. That's enough to shove even more farmers from the industry, according to the Farm Bureau and the Pataki administration.
Similar court actions to block the USDA changes are planned on behalf of dairy farmers in the South. Aside from the court approach, congressmen from the Northeast joined those from most other regions to gain a 285-140 success in passing a bill that negates the Class I milk-pricing plan of the USDA's federal milk marketing reform plan, leaving Class I milk-pricing rules about where they have been. The Senate position will be determined during a joint conference with the House. Whether President Clinton will support Glickman by vetoing the measure is a question without a quick answer.
Farmers with creative ideas on how to get more from their crops, animal or vegetable waste; people with food production ideas, or those who want to start a farm food business have until Oct. 6 to apply to the New York State Energy Research Authority for some of the $2 million it has to help put their ideas into practice. Address Project Manager Ed Kears, NYSERDA, 286 Washington Ave. Extension, Albany, N.Y. 12203-6399. No grant will exceed $250,000.
How do you make a better egg, one that will regain former customers? Change the shell color? No. Change its shape so it stands on end? No. Give it more h-power? That's healthpower, not horsepower. You do it by feeding the hens a special diet: What a hen will deliver largely traces to its feed. That's why Eggland's Best eggs have come on the food market. Kreher's Farm Fresh Eggs is the Western and Central New York franchisee for Eggland's Best. The special feed triples the amount of Omega-3 unsaturated fat in the eggs. The eggs also contain six times the amount of vitamin E than regular eggs, says Scott Kreher, a third-generation member of the family farm whose 500,000 hens lay both kinds of eggs.
"The feed includes canola oil, rice bran, alfalfa meal, kelp and the extra vitamin E," Kreher reveals. "It produces a tastier egg that is nutritious. Tests show that a person can consume a dozen Eggland's Best a week as part of a fat-free diet. That compares with one a day for regular eggs. Eggland's Best generally retail for up to a dollar more than regular eggs."
Kreher says that Cornell researchers fine-tuned the diet formulated in 1992 by Japan's Mitsubishi organization to win back egg consumers lost to the 1970s cholesterol warnings. Kreher's of Clarence and Newstead is one of 25 remaining New York commercial egg farms and one of 18 Eggland's Best franchisees in the nation.
The gobbles are not quite as loud this year. The state Ag Statistics Service expects a New York turkey crop of 480,000; that's 20,000 fewer than last year and 30,000 below 1997. The national turkey crop is put at 275 million, or 10 million fewer than in 1998. Unless some were blown or washed away by hurricanes Dennis and Floyd, North Carolina, the nation's turkey leader, is expected to deliver 48.5 million turkeys, 3 percent fewer than in 1998.
Like American vineyard operators, Ontario grape growers on the Niagara Peninsula are harvesting what they see as a high-quality crop of wine and juice grapes. The crop is sized at 30,000 tons, up 6,000 from 1998 because 1,000 more acres went into production, says the Ontario Grape Growers' Marketing Board.
Barnyard gossip -- The State Department of Agriculture and Markets is supplying a variety of farm news and information via its new Web site, www.agmkt.state.ny.us. . . . Owners of cool water farm ponds have until Thursday to place their 1999 trout orders with the Erie County Soil & Water Conservation District. Oct. 8 is the fish delivery date at the district's East Aurora office. . . . The Western New York Milk Marketing Area in July gained 25 accredited dairy farms, bringing the total to 525. The gain occurred because Upstate Farms switched farms away from the New York-New Jersey Milk Market. . . . Erie County's 4-H Leaders Banquet is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 6 in the Grange Building on the Erie County Fairgrounds, Hamburg. Intermediate string overflow