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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."