Avian influenza toll skyrockets to 7.65 million birds
This year's outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) are hitting egg-laying flocks the hardest, as they did in 2014 and 2015. Laying hens account for two-thirds of this year's toll, which more than doubled to 7.65 million birds over the weekend, said the USDA on Monday.
Trump announces $13 billion in additional coronavirus aid to farmers
During a re-election rally in rural Wisconsin on Thursday, President Trump announced an additional $13 billion in coronavirus relief for U.S. farmers and ranchers, more than doubling assistance to the sector. The money will be available beginning next week, said the president.
Three Farm Belt states get a quarter of coronavirus relief money
Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin, strung across the Farm Belt from the Great Lakes to the Great Plains, have collected one-fourth of USDA’s coronavirus relief payments, said a weekly update on Monday. Some $5.36 billion has been disbursed, at an average $14,684 per producer, from the $16 …
Fewer dairy farms as milk production rises
U.S. milk production is projected to top 220 billion pounds this year as a long-running structural shift puts production in the hands of fewer, but larger, dairies. At the same time, the USDA said there were 34,187 dairy herds licensed to sell milk in 2019, a drop of 9 percent from the previous year.
Majority want more oversight of CAFOs, poll finds
A majority of Americans say they want more stringent oversight of large scale livestock operations, according to a national poll by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for a Livable Future released Tuesday. The polling follows a recent recommendation from the nation’s leading public health association to temporarily halt the creation of new concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, and increase their oversight and regulation.
A battle brews in rural Wisconsin over factory farms
A community divided. A local official accused of self-dealing. A top political appointee ousted from his job. In Wisconsin, a state where the footprint of agribusiness is growing, the question of how to regulate factory farms is a pressing topic from the town hall to the statehouse. The issue …
Dairy farmers may have to get big to survive, says Perdue
In a state losing two dairy farms a day, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday that it’s hard to make a living with a small herd of cows. The “economies of scale having happened in America—big get bigger and small go out,” Perdue said at a dairy show in Wisconsin, in comments …
GOP hoots ‘elitist’ as Democrats question USDA’s plan to relocate researchers
Hoping to dissuade Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, farm-state Democrats in Congress asked for a cost-benefit analysis that would justify moving two USDA research agencies out of Washington. Two senior Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee ridiculed the opposition to the relocation as elitism and knee-jerk obstructionism of President Trump.
Madison looks at former meat factory for wholesale food market
Madison, Wisconsin, was hit particularly hard by the 2015 merger of Kraft and Heinz and its accompanying layoffs. Now, the city is assessing whether the former meat processing site could be repurposed into a food terminal for regional producers. If the terminal is approved, the city will join others who are building infrastructure for medium-scale regional food distribution.
Family farming on a precipice, Wisconsin farmers warn
Corporate consolidation and low commodity prices are posing an existential threat to small, family farms, farmers warned at an event hosted by the Wisconsin Farmers Union in Madison last week. Several producers, from small organic growers to commodity milk farmers, shared stories about how tough farming has become.
Wisconsin Republicans push for wetlands deregulation
In Wisconsin, legislation is moving through the statehouse that would roll back the state’s wetlands development regulations, according to The Cap Times. The bill was proposed by Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke and in its original form proposed opening up one million acres of wetlands to development.
Cheeseheads fight to keep Wisconsin’s ‘dairyland’ reputation
Some in Wisconsin’s business community are calling for a change to the state slogan, “America’s Dairyland.” But when a news channel caught Kurt Bauer, head of the advocacy group Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, arguing for a more “contemporary” phrase at a statewide meeting for business leaders, the public outcry was quick and loud. So much so that Bauer refused to be interviewed for a story on NPR.
Organic Valley starts project to run on renewable energy only
Wisconsin-based Organic Valley, the largest U.S. cooperative for organic farmers, launched a project to become the largest food company in the world to get all of its electricity from renewable sources. The co-op will be part of a "community solar partnership" that will install 12 megawatts of solar power in the state.
Federal protection of Great Lakes wolves is upheld by appeals court
In the latest court ruling in a 20-year tussle over gray wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the U.S. Appeals Court for the DC Circuit put the predator back on the endangered species list, says MLive Media Group. The Interior Department delisted the Great Lakes wolves in 2011, saying the wolf population had recovered enough that federal protection was no longer needed and states could take over management of the animals.
Midwest farmers up their on-farm recycling game
Farmers in Wisconsin and Minnesota produce around 60-80 million pounds of plastic every year, from bags to hold silage to tunnels that protect crops. But in the past two years, thousands of farmers in the two states have joined a program run by Arkansas-based Revolution Plastics to recycle their plastic waste.
Expired permits on one-third of large livestock farms in Wisconsin
Around a third of large livestock farms in Wisconsin are operating with expired permits, says Wisconsin Public Radio. It's not uncommon or illegal "but it is a source of frustration for farmers and residents concerned about oversight."
A U.S.-Mexico cultural exchange of sorts for Wisconsin farmer and his workers
For dairy farmer John Rosenow, diversity in his hometown of Cochrane, Wis., near the Mississippi River "was whether you were Polish or Norwegian." Rosenow resisted hiring foreign workers but eventually ran out of options and began hiring workers from Mexico, says Marketplace. The story describes how Rosenow ended up making nine trips to coastal Veracuz "to better understand the language and culture of his workers."
Race for DNC chair runs through rural Wisconsin
Former labor secretary Tom Perez went to Hayward, a community of 2,300 people in northern Wisconsin, for a listening session as part of his campaign to become Democratic national chairman. "One of the reasons we lost in places like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania is we're not speaking to rural voters," Perez told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, naming three states that were key to election of President Trump.