Agriculture groups part of new Michigan water coalition

By MAA

Michigan leaders have formed a unique new coalition working to improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

The Michigan Cleaner Lake Erie through Action and Research (MI CLEAR) Partnership includes farmers, agricultural and environmental leaders, universities, conservationists, landscape professionals, energy leaders, tourism and economic development interests, and more. Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Jamie Clover Adams said she was encouraged to call the diverse membership to the table as a new way to tackle the ongoing water quality challenges affecting the basin.

“Our mission is to improve the water quality of the Western Lake Erie Basin through open discussion among regional leaders that brings a coordinated perspective to existing efforts,” Clover Adams said. “We will drive support for research that builds understanding of the science around water quality issues, and promote actions that bring long-term, meaningful change.”

She added the MI CLEAR Partnership will promote awareness of science and research-based efforts aimed at improving the health of Lake Erie, and provide quantifiable metrics and unbiased information about Michigan’s efforts to preserve and protect the WLEB’s waters.

In addition to MDARD, other members of the MI CLEAR Partnership:

  • Michigan Farm Bureau
  • University of Michigan Water Center, Graham Sustainability Institute
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
  • The Nature Conservancy – Michigan Chapter
  • Monroe County Drain Commission
  • Michigan Agribusiness Association (MABA)
  • DTE Energy
  • Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association
  • Michigan Chamber of Commerce
  • American WaterWorks – Michigan Chapter
  • Michigan State University Extension Institute of Water Research and Technology
  • Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation

DBA wins settlement in DNR lawsuit

By MAA 

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Dairy Business Association secured a settlement in its lawsuit against the state Department of Natural Resources for legal overreach on regulations.

The settlement, reached Wednesday between the association and DNR, will bring immediate relief for dairy farmers facing uncertainty and costly changes, and will provide assurance that the DNR will create future rules only according to the law.

The dairy group prevailed on the central claims of the suit — that the DNR illegally changed rules for how farmers manage rainwater that comes into contact with feed storage and calf hutch areas.

More broadly, the settlement reaffirms the significance of Act 21, a 2011 state law that requires agencies to follow a specific method of rulemaking.

“More than anything, this is a victory for the rule of law,” said Mike North, president of the Dairy Business Association (DBA), a nonprofit that represents hundreds of dairy farmers and other related businesses across Wisconsin. Continue reading “DBA wins settlement in DNR lawsuit”

DBA president rejects call to remove “Dairyland” from WI license plate

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Mike North, president of the Dairy Business Association, rejected a suggestion today by the president of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce that the state consider removing the slogan, “America’s Dairyland,” from state license plates.

“Considering the dairy community’s continuing contribution to the culture and economy of our state, it would be disheartening to make such a change after nearly 80 years,” North said. “We are talking about a $43.4 billion impact on the Wisconsin economy and tens of thousands of jobs. There are few single products in this state that provide more of an economic boost.”

On Monday, WMC Executive Director Kurt Bauer said the state should consider dropping the motto, which has been on the state’s license plates since 1940. He said residents should reimagine their identities for the 21st century and that “Forward” would be a better motto. Continue reading “DBA president rejects call to remove “Dairyland” from WI license plate”

Water organization leader: Judge overstepped authority in well decision

By MAA
A Dane County judge ignored an opinion from the Wisconsin Attorney General and state law when vacating eight high capacity well permits issued by the Department of Natural Resources, according to the leader of a non-partisan organization focused on protecting the state’s water resources and advocating for sound water policies.
“This is an ill-advised and seriously flawed decision from a Madison judge who wants to legislate from the bench rather than follow the statutory law and accept the opinion of the Wisconsin Attorney General,” said Dan Ellsworth, president of the Wisconsin Water Alliance. “In reaching its faulty decision, the court ignored a 2016 attorney general opinion that correctly states the DNR’s authority and the proper statutory provisions controlling the issuance of high capacity wells.”
Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ruled this week the DNR had ample authority to set limits on well applications to protect drinking water supplies and lakes and streams that might be affected by heavy water use.
Ellsworth said the ruling also goes against Act 310, which was enacted by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2003 and contains specific requirements for issuing high capacity wells, and Act 21, which provides that explicit statutory laws are controlling and the public trust doctrine is not implicated when issuing permits for high capacity wells.
“These laws were enacted by the Legislature to give certainty to the regulatory permitting process without sacrificing water protections. Unfortunately, the judge failed to read the clear statutory law that regulates high capacity wells and instead invoked a flawed and incorrect reading of the public trust doctrine,” he said. “We expect the case will be appealed and are confident that it will be overturned.”
Ellsworth said WWA will continue to work to protect the state’s water resources and advocate for sound water policies that benefit current and future generations of Wisconsin families, cities, businesses, farmers and others.

Group formed to protect Wisconsin’s water

By MAA

A diverse group representing Wisconsin businesses and landowners have formed a new organization aimed at broadening the discussion about Wisconsin’s fresh water supply and the important role it plays in sustaining and growing the state’s economy.

The Wisconsin Water Alliance (WWA) will advocate for common sense regulations and policies that both help protect the state’s abundant fresh water supplies and foster a science and fact based discussion on water related issues, said Dan Ellsworth, who serves as president of the WWA board and is president and CEO of ANIMART LLC.

“Wisconsin has an abundant supply of freshwater, including deep, replenishing aquifers, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River, the Wisconsin River, many other rivers and streams and an estimated 15,000 inland lakes,” he said. “We want to work with policy makers and others who share our commitment in protecting this vital natural resource for generations to come and to also make sure that we can continue to rely on it to help drive the state’s economy.”

Ellsworth added the WWA has as its mission to advocate for sound water policies that benefit current and future generations of Wisconsin families, cities, businesses, and others.

Continue reading “Group formed to protect Wisconsin’s water”

Farmers can attend Dairy Strong for free if registered by Nov. 1

Dairy farmers who register for the fourth annual Dairy Strong Conference  by Nov. 1 will receive two free tickets..
Hundreds of dairy farmers and industry professionals are expected to attend Dairy Strong, an exciting conference and trade show, will be held  Jan. 17-18 at the Monona Terrace in Madison. 
Registration is now open  at dairystrong.org. To receive your two complimentary registrations, you must register prior to Nov. 1. After that date, dairies can attend for $150 for two days or $99 for one day.
Highlights of this year’s event include:
Inspiring keynotes – Dairy Strong provides farmers and dairy professionals with the opportunity to hear from renowned national speakers. This year, Bud Selig will serve as the opening keynote for Dairy Strong. He is the former commissioner of Major League Baseball, the former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and a Milwaukee native. During his tenure, Selig navigated numerous controversies in baseball and will call on his leadership experience to draw parallels to challenges in the dairy community.
 Valuable connections – None of us got to where we are without relationships. Dairy Strong is where farmers, corporate professionals and representatives from government agencies and universities come together with a united mission to move dairy forward. Attendees will also have the chance to network with the nation’s leading suppliers on the trade show floor in a relaxed setting. Dairy Strong is an inclusive environment where farms of all sizes and management philosophies connect with each other and the dairy community.
Practical sessions – Time off the farm is hard to come by and the schedule for January’s event will be a great use of time.  There will be innovative and practical sessions to help farmers improve their dairies, as well as panels focusing on issues related to dairy market access, economics and trade. Enjoy a few days off the farm and return with new ideas and a fresh perspective.
Hosted by the Dairy Business Association, Dairy Strong is an event for the entire dairy community. Farmers representing farms of all sizes and management philosophies are encouraged to attend the event held each January.

Dairy marketing cooperative backs proposed guestworker bill

By MAA

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative, which represents about 800 dairy farmers throughout the Midwest, have formally endorsed a federal bill aimed at solving an increasingly dire rural workforce situation.

The Agricultural Guestworker Act (AG Act) was introduced in the House  Judiciary Committee by U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

John Pagel, a dairy farmer in Wisconsin and president of the cooperative, said DBMMC applauded the efforts of Goodlatte to help farmers have access to a sustainable workforce.
“Maintaining a reliable workforce is one of the foremost concerns of our nearly 800 dairy farmer members throughout the Midwest. Changes in demographics and labor patterns have made it impossible for growing
farms to fill all available positions with American citizens,” he said. “As a result, dairy farming has become increasingly dependent on foreign-born employees. Unfortunately, there are no agricultural visa programs that meet dairy farmers’ year-round staffing needs, highlighting the importance to quickly move the AG Act forward.

Continue reading “Dairy marketing cooperative backs proposed guestworker bill”

FVTC plans Ag Development Career Day

By MAA

APPLETON, Wis. — Fox Valley Technical College will hold its fifth annual Agricultural Department Career Day on Nov. 8 at the Service Motor Company Agriculture Center.

Availability is limited to the first 120 students registered per half-day session with a maximum of 20 students per school. Registration is free.

Schools can register for one or both sessions: 9:30 a.m. to noon or noon to 2 p.m.

Continue reading “FVTC plans Ag Development Career Day”

Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center official name for new education center

By MAA

When the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center (WAEC) opens next year, it will be known as the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center.

“This new identity honors our heritage as America’s Dairyland and welcomes visitors to explore the incredible world of agriculture.” said Julie Maurer, President of the WAEC Board of Directors and owner of Soaring Eagle Dairy. “We could not be more excited for the day when the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center becomes a household name like other notable Wisconsin destinations like, Lambeau Field, House on the Rock or the Harley-Davidson Museum.”

This announcement comes at a time when the construction of the discovery center is well underway. The site is along Wisconsin’s I-43 and County C in Manitowoc County. To view the building progress, visit: https://app.oxblue.com/open/Bayland/WisconsinAGCenter.

The Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center will be a state-of-the-art agricultural education center located in Manitowoc County. It will provide visitors with the opportunity to connect to the industry by better understanding where their food comes from, and why agriculture is so important to them. The center will feature hands-on learning opportunities through many displays, and an opportunity to tour a local farm to learn about Wisconsin’s rich farm history. A highlight for visitors will be the chance to view the birth of calves at the Land O’Lakes Birthing Barn. The organization will still maintain the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center as its internal, legal name.

The community and agricultural industry have generously supported the construction of the unique building and the design of its educational experiences. The capital campaign is currently at 93 percent of its $13 million goal.