Crop sprayers provide farms with effective pest control

By Nikki Kallio

It’s the peak season for rural sightings of yellow aircraft gracefully dipping over fields throughout the Midwest. While it’s fun to observe the aerial maneuvers, what’s happening in the pilot’s seat is serious business.

“I love to fly, but my gratification comes from knowing I did something more positive for society as a whole,” said Damon Reabe, president of both Reabe Spraying Service in Plover and Plainfield, Wis., and Dairyland Aviation in Waupun, Wis. “I know that those growers that chose our service are going to generate more bushels from their fertilizer.”

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Initiating constructive conversations about GMOs

By Dave Coggins

Technology abounds in the world around us, from the smartphones we carry to the motorized equipment used in the field. Embracing and talking about the advantages of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) shouldn’t be any different.

Agricultural producers have long looked to technology to become more productive and efficient. We all know the science, technology and painstaking regulatory process that GMOs go through before they can help our industry grow more food, more affordably. It is admittedly a challenge to counter the movement by many in the food industry – be it Nestle, Dannon, Panera Bread or Chipotle – that is capitalizing on people’s fear of what they don’t know: that somehow, GMOs are inherently bad.

You know differently. I know differently. But somehow, for the regular consumer, science isn’t what’s prevailing in their minds.

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YoGoa brings people out to goat dairy

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

Most Wisconsin residents are familiar with the Breakfast on the Farm events held throughout the state during the month of June. For many community members, the gatherings are the first time they have ever stepped foot on a farm, providing them with an up-close opportunity to experience life on a farm and talk to farmers. It is a great public relations event.

But some farms go a step further and look for other ways to engage community members. One example is LaClare Family Creamery near Fond du Lac, Wis. LaClare offers YoGoa classes, which is just what it sounds like – yoga classes with goats.

LaClare’s YoGoa classes began in late spring after Jessica Mayer, LaClare’s retail manager, was inspired after seeing people practicing yoga while goats meandered around. “I thought: ‘We should try that here. We have the goats,’” she said.

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Deciding between repairing, replacing equipment

By Eric Madsen

Machinery and equipment are some of the largest investments you, as a grain farmer, will ever make. What’s more, it’s not a one-and-done-proposition. Keeping equipment in good working order is an ongoing expense. According to ag economist William Edwards, costs related to machinery align with a farm’s profits. How and when equipment is replaced can mean a bottom line difference of thousands of dollars.

It’s always important to scrutinize repairs and replacements. Just because a piece of equipment needs to be repaired, doesn’t mean we automatically send it in to be fixed. It’s important to look back at each individual equipment item on our balance sheet and really ask whether the repair costs have gotten to the point where replacement is justified.

Here are some general considerations:

• Could we adjust our equipment management strategy to become more productive or more efficient at a lower cost?

• Could more work be done on-farm to become more profitable than outsourcing labor or specialized services?

• If we have a large equipment line that has a great deal of debt to run our cropping enterprise, perhaps we need to evaluate outsourcing and/or reducing our equipment line to make the operation more cash efficient.

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DNR sued, accused of overreach

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

A Dairy Business Association lawsuit seeks to stop the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources from overreaching its legal authority on key regulations.

The dairy group filed a lawsuit in early August against the DNR centering on how the agency implements new regulations without going through an approval process required by state law.

The lawsuit deals specifically with one example of this pattern of unlawful behavior: changes to how farmers manage rainwater that comes into contact with feed storage or calf hutch areas. Those changes, in which the DNR abruptly abandoned its own earlier directives, are causing costly fixes and still more uncertainty for farmers, said DBA President Mike North.

“We’re not looking for a free pass on regulations. We’re asking the DNR to follow the rules,” he said. “The agency clearly is overstepping its legal boundaries on this and other issues.”

The DNR has declined comment on the lawsuit.

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Tech Tilling: From family farm employee to business owner

By Dale Drees

It’s always amazing to see how the world of agriculture opens so many paths to prosperity in related fields. For Ryan Kortz, he took his hands-on experiences growing up on a family dairy farm in Kaukauna, Wis., to making a career out of shaking hands and growing relationships.

In high school, Kortz juggled early morning and evening chores with homework and other activities while discovering a passion for fixing equipment so vital to his family’s livelihood. He was kind of the go-to farmhand when it came to engines and maintenance, thanks to his father’s mentorship. Learning the value of such skills and possessing an affinity for hands-on work, Kortz’ interest in outdoor power grew by the time he finished high school in 2008.

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Time for FDA to put the squeeze on milk hijackers

By Laurie Fischer
American Dairy Coalition

No matter the age, when Americans think of milk, they envision healthy bones and calcium.

Science continues to make the case: A cup of milk provides about 30 percent of the daily recommended calcium intake for the majority of the population.  When a gallon of milk is purchased anywhere across the U.S., consumers know what they are getting inside that jug — no matter the brand. That’s because it’s actually milk! It comes from a lactating cow.

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Science proves rbST is safe

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

You would not know it by today’s marketing campaigns and headlines, but recombinant bovine somatrotropin, or rbST, has been used safely in cows since the 1990s.

Cows naturally produce bovine somatotropin (bST) – which tells their bodies to produce milk. In 1993, the Federal Drug Administration approved the use of rbST in animals after researchers developed and tested rbST for more than 10 years. Chris Galen, senior vice president for communication for the National Milk Producers Federation, said a cow’s body treats and processes rbST the same way as it does bST and other protein hormones.

“If you tested an animal for it, you could not tell if they were on it,” he said. “With rbST, cows can produce about one more gallon of milk a day without changing the safety or quality of dairy products.”

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