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IDFA commends approval of new agriculture secretary.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) commended the Senate Agriculture Committee’s vote earlier this month to unanimously approve President George W. Bush’s choice for his second-term agriculture secretary, Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns. At the committee’s confirmation hearing, the governor answered senators’ questions for three hours about a wide range of issues, including the importation of Canadian cows due to BSE concerns, the impact of international trade on U.S. agriculture, continued food security concerns and specific dairy policy issues.
“In his testimony, Governor Johanns showed a willingness to tackle tough issues facing the U.S. food and agriculture community. We welcome his comments about courageously looking to the future and being open to fresh ideas — that’s just the approach we need on dairy policy as we head into the Farm Bill reauthorization in 2007,” says Chip Kunde, senior vice president of IDFA. “At the same time, Governor Johanns made it clear that the nation’s serious fiscal realities will be an influential factor in his decisions at USDA.”
During the hearing, two Democratic committee members commented on the need to consider an extension for the costly Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) payment program and a resurrection of the failed dairy compact experiment. The new agriculture secretary will likely encounter these issues, as well as efforts to impose additional taxes on dairy imports and create more subsidy programs.
Kunde says such attempts will face serious opposition due to the government’s budget constraints that the governor acknowledged during his testimony. In fact, the MILC extension alone would cost nearly $2 billion, and this is a program that doesn’t even have the support of the entire dairy producer community.
“Much is at stake as we move forward, and IDFA will be very active in communicating the need for a more effective, comprehensive dairy policy,” he says. “USDA’s own recent report on dairy noted that many policies are actually at odds with each other, and this hurts dairy farmers, processors and consumers. We’re optimistic about the prospects for meaningful reform as part of the new Farm Bill process.”
IDFA also notes the new agriculture secretary will play a pivotal role in promoting free trade, a position well-suited for Johanns. During his term as governor, he has led several overseas trade missions to promote products from Nebraska.
“We applaud President Bush for selecting such an experienced leader for USDA during an important period for agriculture trade liberalization,” says Kunde. “IDFA is a strong supporter of the Bush administration’s aggressive course of action on free trade.  
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Product and promotion news
Galliker Dairy Co., Johnstown, Pa., has introduced a new line of shakes and reintroduced its milk quarts and pints with dazzling new shrink labels from Farmingdale, N.Y.-based Seal-It Inc. Suggesting a youthful and lively appearance, the shake packaging features “Kid G” as the Galliker mascot. With flavors such as Cookies and Cream, Super Chocolate, Vanilla and Root Beer, the milk shake line evokes a feeling of fun and excitement. The Seal-It labels shrink labels highlight kaleidoscopic graphics and bold colors. The label design provides nutrition facts, ingredients, bar codes and enhanced color graphics to ensure brand identity for Galliker. The labels are rotogravure printed in 10 colors.
Ventura Foods LLC, Brea, Calif., has introduced its popular Gold n’ Soft® margarine with new bilingual English/Spanish packaging to Southeast Texas and Arizona grocery markets. As a veteran of the food industry, the company hopes to establish a solid foothold in these two important cross-cultural regions heavily influenced by bilingual Americans and Hispanic residents. The company began to aggressively target the Hispanic consumer in Southern California with Gold n’ Soft about three years ago. The layered marketing campaign includes 30-second commercials on Hispanic television stations, consumer sampling in Hispanic grocery stores and bus-shelter advertising. During a time when overall margarine sales have  decreased, Gold n’ Soft sales have increased in the Western region. Based on its success, the brand is expanding into Arizona and Texas, duplicating marketing strategies to achieve the Hispanic support  received in Southern California. Sure to influence the entire butter category, Gold n’ Soft embraces the positive trend towards bilingual packaging.
Orrville, Ohio-based Smith Dairy Products Co. has launched a new taste and look for school milk — chocolate low-fat milk sweetened with Splenda®. Marketed under the Smith’s brand, the product contains 31 percent fewer calories, 54 percent fewer carbohydrates and 54 percent less sugar than regular lowfat chocolate milk.
“Our objective is to respond to changing consumer needs regarding milk consumption,” says Bill McCabe, vice president of marketing. “We view our products as liquid nutrition and want to support the initiative to provide healthy milk alternatives to those with dietary concerns.” With the population facing an obesity crisis and the steadily increasing number of diabetics, it is necessary to develop products with fewer calories and carbohydrates, the company says. Many school districts are being encouraged by their medical advisers to reduce sugar intake in meal plans. Sweetening Smith’s chocolate low-fat milk with Splenda reduces the calories and sugars substantially. Smith’s no-sugar-added chocolate low-fat milk is packaged in half-pint, slim-line gable-top cartons featuring six school activity-themed designs. The package graphics are a visual reminder that activities and exercise are important for a healthy lifestyle. The new chocolate milk is part of a six-flavor program offered to schools and foodservice. The product will be distributed in schools and through foodservice operators to hospitals and nursing homes in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
In December, Madison, Wis.-based Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, highlighted Wisconsin cheeses perfect for adding ease and elegance to holiday entertaining. Brie, camembert and gouda were the focus of December’s Cheese of the Month program, an initiative developed by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board to familiarize shoppers with a wider variety of Wisconsin cheeses. Specialty cheese stores throughout Wisconsin featuring these selections offered samples of the cheeses as well as serving tips, pairing suggestions and a delicious recipe featuring each cheese. The savory Wisconsin Brie-En-Croute is an elegant, yet simple appetizer for a special gathering and Creamy Apple Dumpling Rolls made with Wisconsin gouda make for a delicious, festive dessert.
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