The president and chief executive of the Northwest Dairy Association and its subsidiary, WestFarm Foods, resigned last month amid the company's months-long Teamsters lockout. John Mueller's resignation is effective March 31. The dairy cooperative said the resignation was not connected to the labor dispute.

Monsanto Co. has begun severely rationing the genetically engineered growth hormone somatotropin, designed to increase milk production. After federal regulators found quality control problems at the factory where it's made, the St. Louis-based biotechnology company began to reduce by half its usual shipments to farmers.

Lifeway Foods Inc. last month declared a two-for-one split of its common stock. Lifeway, which manufactures cultured, probiotic and functional foods was recently named one of the fastest-growing public firms in Chicago by Crain's Chicago Business.

Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream last month shut down the last production line at its Union City, Calif. plant, the lone manufacturing facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Dreyer's was founded.

On the International front, Nestlé got a boost from a heat wave in Europe last summer, and the resulting 5.1% rise in earnings for 2003 met the company's expectations, but fell a bit shy of those of market analysts.

Jim Oberwies, the Republican Senatorial candidate in Illinois, and part owner of the Oberwies Dairy Co., continues to cause a stir with television ads. Oberwies first drew fire because the dairy ran spots which critics claimed were thinly disguised campaign ads. Last month's actual political ads focused on one of Oberwies' pet issues, illegal immigration, by claiming that 10,000

illegal immigrants cross the nation's borders each day. Critics said the ads were exaggerated and inflammatory, and some called them racist.

According to preliminary estimates from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, California's production of natural cow's milk cheese reached a record 1.83 billion pounds in 2003, a 6.3% percent increase over 2002. Cheese production in California has doubled since 1993.

In a move to streamline production, Dean Foods' Melody Farms laid off 31 of 170 workers at its Lansing plant last month. The Lansing plant processes milk, orange juice, drinking water and flavored drinks. Melody Farms said the plant will continue to make the same items. Dean acquired the company in June 2003. Besides the Lansing plant, Dean owns five other Michigan dairy production facilities in Grand Rapids, Flint, Evart, Detroit and Livonia.

The theme for the 40th annual seminar and expo of the International-Dairy-Deli Bakery Association is "A Monumental Experience." Dairy-Deli-Bake 2004, will be held June 6-8 in Washington, D.C. Dr. Phil McGraw has been selected as the event's keynote speaker, and others giving daily keynote addresses will include Cal Ripken, Jr., and Erin Brockovich.