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Be prepared for the market, good or bad

John Doerr, Ph.D., PAS, Dpl. ACAP - Vice President, Science and Technology - Agrarian Solutions

As a microbiologist, when I read the trades and see articles highlighting a prospective upturn in milk prices I don't know whether to believe them or not! We're told of the potential effects of new trade agreements, a slight drop in US production, and, all that's going on in China. From Asian Swine Flu cutting domestic pork production by nearly half, coronavirus shutting down movement of workers, and a once-thought robust economy that is in serious trouble, demand on the export market for US ag production could be promising if that COVID-19 will just quiet down! Of course, today's news tells of mid-East slashing of oil prices and the DOW taking another major dive, while COVID-19 gets the official declaration of 'pandemic'.

2020 is either going to see a resumption of upward milk price trends or it will bottom out again, which seems to be the more likely immediate outcome. No matter what, what's your dairy client planning to do? Income rises – he pays off a little debt, updates some infrastructure, pursues herd improvement more aggressively, etc. Income falls – he'll be looking for any legitimate way to cut costs. So, the onus is now on you; what will you advise him to cut to bring costs down? In the absence of strong milk prices, his one best asset is his herd, and his best chance at a good recovery is a stronger, more competitive herd. So, again, what to advise him? Genetics and health seem the two top items. And, permit me to crystal ball gaze: no matter what COVID-19 or national politics do, your client's dairy will experience a potential disaster: molds in the feedstocks and mycotoxins affecting the herd. And that prediction may be a really safe one when the effects of apparent weather pattern changes come into play.

Experts who track such phenomena reported at a recent mycotoxin conference (World Mycotoxin Forum, January 13-15, 2020, Bangkok, Thailand) that changes of less than 1-degree centigrade result in some surprising 'movement' of mold species. That is, common toxin producers, notably Aspergillus, once thought limited to 'southern' climates are being found more routinely much further north. Example? Aflatoxin contamination of grain in Europe was normal only in the most southern areas. Now toxin contaminated, pre-harvest corn is being found as far north as central Germany and Belgium. At the same time, there is no real regional decline in Fusarium toxins. Moving back home, the upper Midwest dairies have long thought themselves relatively protected from aflatoxin and similar Aspergillus toxins. That may no longer be the case or at least that condition may be undergoing change.

Dairymen today are receptive to the need for some form of mycotoxin management. They are offered a large array of feed additives that almost universally can boast effectiveness against one or two mycotoxins but offer no other benefit for the herd. They might want to start thinking about a real management tool, something that protects production, health, and reproductive efficiency. The very broad-spectrum coverage and the immune modulation effects of Select DTX offer these advantages to today's modern dairy. And if income doesn't rise, the temptation to make a purchase decision based solely on the upfront cost of a product can be a real calamity. Those dairy farmers know now about the major effects of multiple mycotoxin exposure to their herds. If the politicians do puts some relief out to agriculture in the present stimulus bill, maybe the decisions will be easier. So, 'Penny wise, pound foolish' comes to mind, but with your guidance, that can easily be 'Penny wise, pound wise'! Ask a Select Sires representative or your friends at Agrarian Solutions for more details. And, by the way, now's the time while the Select DTX promotion (buy 5, get 1 free) is underway. Insure that herd today.