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In The News
Ag Innovation Day brings farmers together
WAUNAKEE, Wis. — Yahara Pride Farms welcomed more than 100 guests to the annual Ag Innovation Field Day event on Aug. 16. New this year, the Ag Innovation Day was open to farmers, agribusinesses and the general public from across the state. In previous years, the event was designated for farmers in the Yahara Watershed, but organizers wanted to expand the reach of the programs and practices that are applicable to a wide audience.
The day kicked off with lunch, followed by several hours of field demonstrations. Manure was a central topic of the day and attendees had the chance to see dragline and tanker methods of applying manure using Low Disturbance Manure Injection techniques. Read more here.
Short course provides training boost to farmers
By Nikki Kallio
Nineteen-year-old Lindsey Rettenmund of Black Earth, Wis., grew up working on her family’s Holstein farm, which now has about 100 milking cows, and hopes one day to either take over the operation or start her own dairy.
To give her ag knowledge a little extra boost, she enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Farm & Industry Short Course (FISC), a 15-week hands-on agriculture training program that runs from November through March. Rettenmund chose the intensive program to learn more from experts about crops, soils, weed and insect identification, cattle reproduction and other training relevant to today’s farmers.
“You cram a lot into those 15 weeks,” Rettenmund said. “But it wasn’t that long that I had to be away from the farm, and the time of the year worked out pretty well for us. It’s convenient.” Read more here.
Milk Source's Hudson Dairy on sustainable path
By MaryBeth Matzek
HUDSON, Mich. — Acquiring one of Michigan’s most controversial farms and transforming it into a model of green sustainability has put Milk Source LLC on the state’s agricultural map in a big way.
But three years after picking up the defunct Vreba-Hoff farms — and investing more than $40 million into new technology and site upgrades — the owners of the newly minted Hudson Dairy say they will continue to seek innovations that will bolster both the economic and environmental prospects of the operation.
“South Central Michigan boasts a very progressive dairy culture so we knew we would fit in well here,” said Bill Harke, Milk Source’s director of public affairs.
The previous owners — Vreba-Hoff farms — garnered headlines between 1997 and 2010 for mismanaging farm wastes, polluting local surface waters and getting into a very public legal fight with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Vreba-Hoff declared bankruptcy in 2010.
“We understood the challenge we were undertaking in purchasing these farms,” Harke said. “But we don’t dwell on the past either: Whatever failings the previous ownership brought to the forefront, they were shortcomings of a company, not an entire industry.” Read more here.
Reforestation may lead to groundwater depletion
Paul Fowler of the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, released a study today showing that the reforested parts of Wisconsin’s Central Sands region play a key role in the area's lower groundwater levels and less water in local streams.
Water use by agriculture has become an issue in many areas where groundwater levels have dropped. Fowler wrote that “because the impact of agricultural water use is a driver of water use policy, it is important to understand other factors that may also be impacting groundwater.”
The study examines scientific literature on water use by trees compared to water use by vegetable crops. Read more here.
Dairy farming sustainability alliance launched
By MaryBeth Matzek
Members of the Wisconsin dairy community from suppliers to processors are coming together in a newly formed statewide sustainability alliance.
While the Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance (DSSA) was publicly launched today at Endres Berryridge Farms in Waunakee, its roots go back to the Dairy Strong conference, which was held last January in Madison. After hearing Yahara Pride Farms participants share their successes on sustainability initiatives, members of the dairy supply chain from producers to manufacturers began talking about taking those learnings and sharing them statewide. The Dairy Business Association then stepped forward to help get the organization off the ground. Read more here.
Time to quit the baby talk
By Damian Mason
Agriculture: for the long term good of your business, quit the baby talk. No, you’re not cooing and you’re not making goo-goo gah-gah sounds. You’re doing something much worse. You’re calling young livestock “babies.”
When I hear a person of agriculture use human terms while referring to meat animals, it grates on me like two adolescent lovers spewing sappy gibberish at prom. Read more here.
EPA looks to regulate farms
By Bruce Dale
A basic fact about agricultural products such as grains and oilseeds is that the carbon in them, called biogenic carbon, came from the atmosphere. Biogenic carbon will return to the atmosphere when these products are consumed, such as when human beings eat bread and then breathe out the carbon dioxide resulting from the breakdown of bread in the body. Biogenic carbon therefore cannot contribute to climate change.
Why is the Environmental Protection Agency denying this basic fact of climate science? The EPA is counting biogenic-carbon emissions as if they were the same as fossil-carbon emissions. Read more here.
Feast & Famine in the ag industry
FAMINE: Starting this month, the lawmakers of Vermont have put the most “food insecure” segment of their population at even greater risk in order to solve a “problem” that never existed in the first place. After caving to demands from anti-ag protesters two years ago, the governor signed legislation that mandates GMO (genetically modified organisms) identification labels on all products. It is now a reality.
It sounds simple enough, but as Joanne Lidback of the Global Farmer Network reported, “It involves a lot more than slapping statements in fine print on packages of food. It will force food companies to reformulate their products, driving up the cost of production all the way back to the farm gate. Prices will jump and consumers will pay the difference. Read more here.
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