Weekly Digest: Minnesota dairy farmers join Super Bowl spotlight Progressive Dairyman Editor Dave Natzke

Digest Highlights: Proposed Indiana dairy doesn’t violate religious rights. Agency to decide California milk price hike hearing request. Midwest co-op gets a new general manager. Find a summary of this and other news here.

Minnesota dairy farmers join Super Bowl spotlight
More than 50 Minnesota dairy farmers are serving as dairy ambassadors as Super Bowl LII descends on Minneapolis, Minnesota. They are participating in this year’s Super Bowl Experience, Jan. 27 through Feb. 3, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The Super Bowl is providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for dairy farmers to share their stories with thousands of visitors. Coordinated by the checkoff-funded Midwest Dairy Association, farmer activities include participation in a Fuel Up to Play 60 booth in the event’s Kids’ Zone. They’ll also assist in a virtual reality game where players will get a first-hand look at a dairy farm modeled after the Heintz Badger Valley Farm in Caledonia, Minnesota.

In addition to the Super Bowl Experience, dairy farmers will be involved in other events during the week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, including the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee Tailgate Party on Jan. 31 and the Fuel Up! Innovation Challenge on Feb. 3.

Created in partnership by the National Football League and National Dairy Council, in collaboration with the USDA, Fuel Up to Play 60 encourages students to eat healthy and get active for 60 minutes a day. The nation’s largest in-school wellness program, it has been implemented in more than 73,000 schools nationwide.

Super Bowl LII, featuring the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, is Feb. 4.

Court: New dairy doesn’t violate religious rights
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a decision to allow construction of a new dairy within one-half mile from a church camp in rural Rush County, rejecting arguments made by the camp that the dairy’s operation would violate their religious rights.

This case (House of Prayer Ministries Inc. v. Rush County BZA and Milco Dairy Farm LLC) involved two core rights: the right to use farmland for agricultural purposes and the freedom to exercise religion.

In its lawsuit, the camp argued the new dairy would violate its rights under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the U.S. Constitution.

The Court of Appeals ultimately held that, at least in this instance, the right to milk cows does not infringe on the right to attend a religious camp, according to Brianna Schroeder, an attorney with Janzen Ag Law.

California milk price hike hearing request answer expected soon
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) will announce a decision by Feb. 2 on whether to hold an emergency hearing to consider increases in minimum milk prices paid to the state’s dairy farmers.

The California Dairy Campaign (CDC) and Western United Dairymen (WUD) petitioned CDFA, seeking the hearing. (Read California dairy groups request emergency hearing for milk price increases)

The Jan. 18 request seeks price increases for the 12-month period of April 1, 2018, through March 31, 2019. Specifically, the organizations proposed a 60-cent-per-hundredweight (cwt) increase on Class 1, 2 and 3 milk; a 10-cent-per-cwt increase on Class 4a price; and a 40-cent-per-cwt increase on Class 4b.

About 15 dairy farmers had submitted comments supporting the petition.

Rachel Kaldor, executive director of the Dairy Institute of California, said the state’s dairy processors did not have margins to absorb the price increases and urged CDFA Secretary Karen Ross to deny the hearing request. Michael Shotts and Scott Hofferber, president and chief financial officer of Farmdale Creamery, respectively, said California dairy processors were suffering economically from state dairy policies related to make allowances and whey factors, and also asked that the hearing request be denied.

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