Tech Tilling: Streamlining career pathways in ag

By Nick Schneider
Fox Valley Technical College
Welding and health care now use robotics, diesel training uses virtual reality and the aviation industry looks to simulation technology to attract a new generation of pilots. Yes, innovation today applies to agriculture as well with the use of drones and GPS-programmed technologies. Farming, however, is also returning to its simple roots to make the sector more appealing.
Enter Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) — one of the state’s originators of agriculture training, spanning more than 70 years. It’s no stranger to technology, thanks to two newer innovations in bovine birth and combine simulation as well as a longstanding partnership with Case IH/Service Motor Company. That said, for the fall 2018-19 academic year, FVTC has its sights set on simpler and clearer pathways for students in the form of a little restructuring.

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Kelly Wilfert: A seat at the table for young agriculturists

By Kelly Wilfert
Our youth are our future.
Few understand this better than the American farmer. From little ones on, agriculturists train our youth for the future. We plan to preserve the land, pass on the farm and share stories of our own lessons learned. From farm chores and tractor rides to 4-H and FFA, we teach agricultural youth to be future workers, professionals and leaders.
Yet, as USDA’s 2012 Census of Agriculture shows, the average age of U.S. farmers is 58.3 years old and steadily rising, and farms and companies face difficulty recruiting and retaining young talent. The companies that “win” in the race for employees will be those who allow our future, our youth, to step up.

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Tram allows all to enjoy ag tours

By University of  Wisconsin-Madison
MADISON, Wis. — At first glance, it’s a simple snapshot: A few dozen attendees of the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days trade show have settled into their seats on a tractor-hitched wagon, ready to be tugged around the trade show’s sprawling Wood County grounds.
But among them is a man in a wheelchair with a gleaming smile. When Nancy Esser saw the photograph, she became emotional. It’s evidence of an opportunity that wouldn’t have been possible – even a few years ago – without the concerted efforts of her staff at the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station (MARS) and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

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Iowa entrepreneur launches ‘Amazon’ for ag

By Leah Call
Entrepreneur Brad McDonald — recently named one of Forbes magazine’s 30 visionaries under 30 years old — thought it was odd that he could purchase just about anything online, except the things he needed for his farming operation. He then jumped at the opportunity to launch Agroy Inc., an online marketplace for agricultural products such as seed, fertilizers and chemicals.
McDonald started the business 2 ½ years ago after seeing a LinkedIn post about European-based Agroy, which was selling ag products online.
“I took an interest in it, and found out they were actually looking to branch out beyond Europe,” McDonald said. “They had proven the model was working, and they were looking for someone to implement it in the U.S.”

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Study: Labels decrease GMO opposition

Jane Kolodinsky

By The University of Vermont
As the U.S. Department of Agriculture prepares guidelines for labeling products that contain genetically modified ingredients, a new study from the University of Vermont reveals that a simple disclosure can improve consumer attitudes toward GMO food.
Led by Jane Kolodinsky, an applied economist in UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the study compared levels of consumer opposition to GMO foods in Vermont – the only U.S. state to have implemented a mandatory labeling policy – with consumer attitudes in the rest of the U.S.
The analysis showed opposition to GMO food fell by 19 percent in Vermont after the implementation of mandatory labels.

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Cranberries succeed with water, sand and soil

By Leah Call
It’s September. On the 21,000 acres of cranberry marshes in central and northern Wisconsin, the cranberries are changing from pale pink to a brilliant red as harvest season approaches. Harvest typically starts in late September and peaks in the second and third week of October.
Growing cranberries requires three natural resources: black peat soil, coarse sand and water. Wisconsin has an abundance of all three. Wisconsin’s 250 cranberry growers produced 5.7 million barrels of the fruit, which makes the state No. 1 in cranberry production in the United States and responsible for 60 percent of the world’s cranberries.

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Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center debuts

By Jessie Cameron
After more than eight years of planning, fund raising and then, finally, building, the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center has come to life along Interstate 43 just outside of Manitowoc.
From the beginning, the center’s goal was simple: To help educate the 98 percent of people who do not work on farms to understand where their food comes from.
“So many people do not know what happens on a modern farm,” says Executive Director Lauren Rose Hofland. “They don’t really know where their food comes from or all of the sustainability initiatives farmers engage in. Farmers are now growing more food using less resources.”

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World Dairy Expo returns for 52nd year

By Tim Froberg
MADISON, Wis. — The World Dairy Expo is where the dairy industry connects and communicates.
Roughly 70,000 dairy enthusiasts, company representatives and industry leaders attend the event each year, and the 2018 Expo is expected to be bigger and better than ever. It is considered the world’s largest dairy-focused event and the trade show features exhibits from more than 800 companies across the world.
“It’s a place for people to network and get revitalized and energized about the (dairy) industry,” said Kristin Olson, WDE’s media relations manager.
If it’s dairy related, it’s probably going to be either discussed or displayed at the 52nd annual expo set for Oct. 2-6 at the Alliant Energy Center. The expo showcases North America’s top dairy cattle and the latest technologies in the industry. It features a world-class dairy cattle show and industry-themed contests, displays, exhibits and daily seminars ranging from how to launch a dairy business to robotics designed to create a more efficient business.

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Growers take lead in addressing water quality issue

By Tim Froberg
Clean, safe drinking water is a must for every homeowner.
A local coalition is working to make sure residents in Wisconsin’s Central Sands area get that fundamental need.
The Armenia Growers Coalition – a newly formed group comprised of three large area farming operations – Wysocki Produce Farms, B&D Farms and Okray Farms – is spearheading efforts for a permanent solution to the water quality issues that have plagued affected property owners in Juneau and Wood counties.
It was discovered in recent tests that some private wells in northern Juneau County and in southern Wood County indicated elevated levels of nitrates in the groundwater. Legacy farming practices dating as far back as the 1950s are believed to be the root of the problem.
Nitrogen is essential for all living things, but high levels of nitrates in drinking water can be dangerous, especially for women and infants.

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LaClare founder elected to American Cheese Society’s board

MALONE, Wis. — Larry Hedrich, co-founder of LaClare Family Creamery, has been elected to the American Cheese Society’s (ACS) board of directors.
A leading voice in the artisanal and goat-milk-cheesemaking field, Hedrich brings four decades of experience to the organization that supports and promotes farmstead and specialty cheeses produced in the Americas.
“I’m humbled by the opportunity to represent hard-working cheesemakers from across the country and North America,”said Hedrich. “Expanding our membership and focusing on long-term issues will be among my American Cheese Society priorities.”
With 1,800 members, the ACS provides advocacy, education, business development, and networking opportunities for cheesemakers, retailers, enthusiasts and the extended industry.
In 1978, Larry and his wife Clara pursued a lifelong dream by establishing “LaClare Farms” (He’s the namesake “La” and she’s the “Clare”). What began with just two goats has evolved into a multi-generational family farm, which has produced some of the world’s most highly recognized cheeses. Just this year, LaClare’s Cave-Aged Chandoka was named
Top 20, First Place/Best of Class at the World Championship Cheese Contest; Bronze Medalist at the SOFI Awards; and named a 2018 Good Food Award winner.
In June, LaClare became a founding member of the Mosaic Meadows group, which unites some of finest up-and-coming cheesmakers in America, with Hedrich — who serves as LaClare’s business manager — assuming a seat on the board of directors.