Farm Catch Up

I haven’t done this in a while, so let’s see what’s going on out in the farming world.

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 6.25.36 AMButter Tumbles In Europe:  Wholesale butter prices have plummeted by almost 10% from September in the EU, and have dropped by 20% overall from the high point. The market for butter and butterfat was the only thing that was driving improved farmgate milk prices in the EU. There was a very modest reduction in milk production, but that quickly reversed as milk prices began to improve, and from what I’ve been seeing milk production is on the rise once again.

Butter prices in the US dropped a bit, but are still pretty strong, about 20% or so higher than they were a year ago.

I’ve been hearing the price on powdered skim milk in the EU has dropped precipitously because they can’t get rid of the stuff.

Basically it looks like a return to the old boom/bust cycle. As soon as prices start to get even a tiny bit better, dairy farms begin to ramp up production, glutting the market with product, and pushing the prices back down again.

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 8.58.56 AMSargento Expansion: The company is expanding again locally. It’s adding another 40,000 sq. feet to it’s facility here in Hilbert after a major 70,000 sq. foot expansion just a year ago, and will be adding another 150 jobs here. Sargento is privately owned, employs about 2,000 people, and produces cheese, snacks, sauces and ingredients for the food industry. It had net sales of well over $1 billion last year. Starting wages for most jobs are going to be in the $18/hr range I’ve been told.

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 7.58.59 AMDicamba Battle Continues: Monsanto and it’s partner in the dicamba herbicide controversy, BASF, continue to claim that thousands of acres of crops that were damaged by dicamba drift wasn’t their fault. Arkansas alone had more than a thousand complaints of crops damaged or killed by dicamba drifting away fro the sprayed areas into fields that were often hundreds, even thousands of feet away.

This situation has been going on ever since Monsanto and it’s partner in this, BASF, brought their dicamba blend herbicides to market to use with Monsanto’s dicamba resistant soybeans. Dicamba has always had a problem with volatility and drifting, meaning the product goes into vapor form very easily and can drift far beyond the point of application. These new formulations were supposed to cure that problem, but the problem with drift seems to still be a serious issue. Ever since these products came to market there have been reports of tens of thousands of acres of crops and ornamental plantings being killed or damaged by the herbicide.

Both companies have been blaming everything but their products for the problems. Arkansas banned Monsanto’s version of the herbicide and only BASF’s was permitted for use in the state, and the reported damage is so bad some states are thinking of banning the product completely. Monsanto is currently suing Arkansas over the ban. Monsanto is also criticizing scientists who are coming forward to point out problems with the product that date back to the first tests of the dicamba blends, and claim that the company’s testing of the product was seriously flawed and failed to point out the dangers of the herbicide.

Now BASF is claiming that the damage is because farmers have been using illegal forms of dicamba, and not it’s product at all. The company claims that it only sold about half the amount herbicide that would be needed to cover the acreage that was actually sprayed.

The whole thing is a complete mess, with lawsuits either in the works or already heading for the courts, lots of finger pointing, bizarre conspiracy theories, and even one murder attributed to the issue.

Not So Great Pumpkin Controversy: If you’re the FDA, a squash is a squash is a pumpkin. Its all pretty much the same. So that orangey brown gunk you dump out of that can to make your pumpkin pie isn’t really, well, pumpkin. Pumpkin is Cucurbita pepo while what you’re mostly getting in that can is Cucurbita maxima, a different variety of squash. The problem is that real pumpkin doesn’t really work very well for a lot of the things we eat, like pie.

Personally I can’t stand the stuff, the pumpkin pie fillings and all that. I love squash. There’s nothing better than a slow roasted butternut or acorn squash with a bit of, oh, apple baked with it, a little brown sugar, some butter, a touch of salt. It is amazingly good. But pumpkin? No thanks. I’ll pass on that pumpkin pie and head straight for the mincemeat. Although come to think of it mincemeat doesn’t really have meat in it either any more, does it?

And don’t get me started on the abomination that is “pumpkin spice”.

That’s it for now. Well, actually there’s probably more but I’m getting bored and MrsGF is making deep dish apple pie and I need to go peel apples.

As always, comments are welcome or you can email me at

If I got the email address right this time.


Author: grouchyfarmer

Yes, I'm a former farmer. Sort of. I'm also an amateur radio operator, amateur astronomer, gardener, maker of furniture, photographer.

9 thoughts on “Farm Catch Up”

  1. I feel like we must end our online friendship over this morally reprehensible position you have taken on pumpkin (or whatever it is in the cans.) Calling out pumpkin pie, which is among the best pies ever to grace the table, is just terrible.

    Pumpkin pie is the lovely blend of a sweet nearly savory, smooth and soft with a crust. It’s wonderful as a chiffon or as a standard. It’s perfect. And any suggestion otherwise is a blasphemy against squash everywhere and I will NOT tolerate it, sir. I will NOT.

    Food opinions, I love to have them. 😀


    1. I love squash, but pumpkin pie is something I’ve grown to dislike over the years. It’s probably from years of pumpkin pie overload at family events in the past. It seemed every aunt or whoever brought pumpkin pie and a container of Cool Whip to every family event and it got to the point where just the smell made me a bit queasy.

      This pumpkin spice nonsense hasn’t helped any, either. Pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin spice candles, pumpkin spice yogurt, ice cream. I even saw pumpkin spice egg nog the other day.

      Besides, everyone goes for the pumpkin pie, so that leaves more mincemeat for me

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Will this comment stick?
    I added a comment this morning. A silly rant about pumpkin being the best of pies. But it’s not here.
    I had the same issue a couple of weeks on one of your posts. I wonder if there is a problem.


    1. What’s going on over there is really amazing. The farmers can get more money for their product by selling it outside of France, so that is what they’re doing, and causing a shortage of butter in France itself. There has been considerable antagonism between French farmers and retailers and the government for some time. It rarely makes the news here, but there have been near riots over by French farmers over price controls, support prices and government policies, including farmers flooding Paris with tractors to block traffic on at least one occasion that I remember.

      And it is indeed complex, often unnecessarily so. Agriculture is one of the most tightly controlled and manipulated industries on the planet. Every government fiddles with the agriculture sector in one way or another through taxes, tariffs, import and export restrictions, price supports, quotas and everything else you can think of, most of it driven by special interest groups, marketing boards, etc. It’s also full of corruption, as the case of the biggest meat packing company in Brazil being hit on charges of bribing inspectors, bribing politicians, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is the MOST important business and market in the world. Every human needs food. So I suppose countries cannot afford to be too laissez faire about it. But they also don’t seem to be doing such a great job with their management. Not that I have a solution.


  3. Hi, I’m Queen and I live in Italy, in the Prosecco area and here the butter has increased a lot. I used to buy 250 grams of throwaway for € 1.20. Now it costs 2.00-2.50 euros. And cheese has also become very expensive. The cheapest, Fontina, previously only cost € 4.50 but now costs € 8.90. I don’t know in which parts of Europe these lower prices are, but here everything has a much higher price and the shopping is more expensive. 😒


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