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In The News
Farmers help train soldiers before deployment
By MaryBeth Matzek
Thirty-two members of the Green Bay-based 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion are taking a deep dive into Northeast Wisconsin’s agricultural industry this weekend to better prepare themselves for future deployments.
Captain Jason Cox said his company broke into groups of four to visit different farms in the region over a four-day period.
“We’re focused on civil affairs and come into an area after a conflict or natural disaster and help get things back up and running,” Cox said. “We handle everything from municipal systems and making sure there’s enough water to agriculture and schools.”
When they arrive in an area, Cox said they search out local experts and learn as much as possible as quickly as possible.
“We then take what we learned back to the maneuvering commander to help him make decisions in a timely manner,” he said. “As a Civil Affairs Unit, our job is to work as a bridge between the military commander and the local community.” Read more here.
Farmer group aids those with contaminated wells
KEWAUNEE, Wis. -- Peninsula Pride Farms, a dairy farmer-led conservation group, is taking action to provide clean drinking water for homeowners in Kewaunee County who have wells contaminated with harmful bacteria.
Peninsula Pride Farms announced today that it has developed a program, called Water Well, to help ensure that rural residents at risk of getting sick from E. coli, no matter the source, get clean water now and have a means for longer-term protection. The key aspects of the program include: the group will pay for bottled water and a well inspection for homeowners; help cover the costs for a water treatment system if necessary; and pay for servicing the system. Read more here.
Midwest vineyards continue to grow
By CJ Krueger
Watch out Napa Valley, Midwest wineries and vineyards are gaining ground in the wine-making world.
While most consumers associate Northern California’s Wine Country as the hub of fine wine-making in the United States, Midwest wineries are embracing their geographical location to grow grapes that have a signature taste all their own.
What largely goes unnoticed by the general public is that several states in the Midwest are located on the same latitude as European wine regions. These areas centered in the “cool climate” group lay claim to the finest food-friendly styles of wine in the world. Read more here.
Embracing social media key for farmers
By MaryBeth Matzek
With the majority of consumers getting their news and information from Facebook and Twitter, Don Schindler believes it’s now more important than ever for farmers to embrace social media.
Schindler isn’t just saying that because he’s a digital strategist and executive social media trainer with Dairy Management Inc.; he comes from a family of farmers.
“Farmers need to build and maintain trust with their customers. This trust has eroded. Not because of what farmers are doing – it’s because most people aren’t connected to farming and agriculture,” he said. “And most people trust the Internet — specifically social media — for their news and information. If farmers aren’t online then who is building trust with their customers, who is telling the farmer’s story?” Read more here.
Field day digs into research, best practices
By MaryBeth Matzek
Jamie Patton, a soils agent with the University of Wisconsin-Extension in Shawano County, could not wait to get into a soil pit on Mark Schmidt’s dairy farm in Casco, Wis.
Standing in the 4-foot deep pit, Patton shared her observations about the soil’s health with the approximately 40 farmers attending Peninsula Pride Farms’ 2016 Cover Crop Field Day on Aug. 26.
“Look at the surface horizon — it’s thick, rich and dark,” she said enthusiastically. “This is great looking soil.” Read more here.
World Dairy Expo celebrating 50th anniversary
By MaryBeth Matzek
More than 70,000 people involved in the dairy industry from around the world will descend next month on Madison, Wis., for the 50th annual World Dairy Expo.
This year’s celebration, which will be held Oct. 4-8, will bring together farmers and dairy enthusiasts as they learn about the industry’s latest innovations and technologies and see the world’s top dairy cattle, said Kristin Olson, media relations manager for World Dairy Expo. People from more than 90 countries will be in attendance. 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. Read more here.
Analysis: SRAP event lacks luster
By Chris Wallis
GREEN BAY, Wis. — A recent event meant to rally anti-CAFO forces may not have had the impact it sought.
The Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP) hosted the two-day gathering, which was to focus on “fighting back against the placement and expansion of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).”
The gathering in Green Bay drew just 175 participants to the Saturday night keynote meal, many who were scheduled speakers or SRAP operatives. The reason for the measly turnout — the conference had anticipated three times as many participants — is unclear. The start of the NFL season may have been a factor. It’s possible, too, that the low attendance was a sign that the group’s increasingly extreme tactics are turning off activists who would rather find common ground with farmers. Read more here.
Autonomous tractor timing off
By Damian Mason
Case IH made a big splash at the Farm Progress Show with it’s autonomous tractor. It looks like a normal tractor, with an enhanced cool factor, that’s been decapitated. That’s right, there’s no cab because there’s no operator.
To be clear, this is a concept tractor. It’s not currently for sale at dealerships. That’s a good thing for manufacturers and sellers of farm machinery, which have experienced double digit annual sales declines since 2013. According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, four-wheel drive tractor sales are down 31 percent through the first half of 2016. Read more here.
Feast & Famine in the ag industry
FEAST: We applaud the 107 Nobel laureates who are trying to knock some sense into Greenpeace.
The activist organization has opposed genetically modified organisms’ (GMO) use in modern agriculture, a position that a collection of the finest scientists, researchers and physicians in the world say will endanger some of the most vulnerable populations on the planet.
In a letter to Greenpeace, the 107 signatories noted that a genetically engineered strain of rice — aptly named “Golden Rice” — will help reduce Vitamin A deficiencies that are causing blindness and death in children in the developing world. Read more here.
It's time to deal with immigration
By American Dairy Coalition
There is no doubt Wisconsinites love their dairy products — and they should! Study after study has shown these tasty products deliver serious health benefits, yet the industry is at the brink of collapse.
The Wisconsin dairy industry provides $43.4 billion to the state’s economy and is being called upon to feed more mouths than ever before. However, farmers cannot find workers to milk their cows. Our domestic labor sources, time and time again, pass up this type of employment and the current immigrant labor pool is running dry. Currently, 51 percent of dairy farm workers are immigrants, but the industry must grow in order to keep up with the global demand for worldwide dairy products. So what are dairy producers to do? Read more here.
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