Perdue applauds USDA’s 2017 accomplishments

By USDA
WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue applauded the accomplishments made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over the past year. In the first year of the Trump Administration, USDA made breakthroughs in agricultural trade, moved to reduce burdensome regulations, responded to natural disasters, and battled through the worst fire season on record, among other notable achievements.

“As 2017 comes to an end, the hard-working civil servants who make up USDA have a great deal to be proud of,” said Perdue. “Unlike any other federal department, USDA touches the lives of each individual in this country every day. In the wake of hurricanes, forest fires, and everything in between, the dedicated professionals at USDA worked tirelessly to serve the American people. As we look ahead to 2018, USDA will continue our efforts to be the most effective, efficient, and customer focused department in the entire federal government.” Continue reading “Perdue applauds USDA’s 2017 accomplishments”

Dairy Strong speakers announced

By MAA
GREEN BAY, Wis.  – One of the Midwest’s premiere conferences for the dairy farming community will be held Jan. 17 and 18 at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison, Wis.
Dairy Strong 2018 will bring together more than 700 farmers, corporate professionals and government and university representatives to explore the future of an integral part of the culture and economy of Wisconsin and the nation.
The conference will include a panel discussion about the changing landscape of milk marketing and trade in the United States and globally featuring a dynamic panel of CEO’s from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and the International Dairy Foods Association.
Lynne Lancaster, one of today’s foremost cultural translators and an expert on the generations, will be a keynote speaker. Lancaster advises leaders, managers and employees on how to conduct business more successfully by bridging generation gaps at work and in the marketplace. She has been featured on CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio and has worked with companies like Best Buy, Coca-Cola, Disney and Intel to name a few.
Republican strategist and a political analyst for CNN and CNN en Español, Ana Navarro will serve as the legislative keynote. She is also a political contributor on ABC’s The View and has worked extensively with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Navarro is poised to play a big role in the GOP response to immigration reform and Hispanic outreach.
A keynote by Major League Baseball’s Commissioner Emeritus, Bud Selig will kick off the conference. Commissioner Selig, a Milwaukee native and former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, navigated many challenges during his 17-years as Commissioner including efforts to rid the game of illegal steroids and other performance-enhancing substances. He will draw parallels on his leadership during times of crisis to our own challenges in the dairy community.
Wisconsin Atty. Gen. Brad Schimel, will deliver the state legislative keynote.
In addition to keynotes, the event will feature track sessions, panel discussions and shorter presentations on the Innovation Stage, located in the trade show area. Topics range from sustainable compliance to social media insights and on-cow sensors.
These are trying times for the dairy community. Market access and a fair price are top of mind for all dairy farmers. In 2017, we learned one thing: It’s complicated.
Admittedly, many farmers do not fully grasp where their milk goes when the milk truck leaves the driveway. The time to understand and advocate for the dairy supply chain is now. With this in mind, a panel of CEO’s from the leading marketing and trade organizations in dairy will convene to discuss current trends and future predictions.
Discussion will center on the need for increased exports, broad trade policy challenges and increasing opportunities for Wisconsin dairy. The panel will also explore the growing divide between what consumers want and what farmers need to be successful.
Panelists include: Chad Vincent, CEO Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board; Chuck Conner, CEO National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; and Michael Dykes, CEO International Dairy Foods Association. The panel will be moderated by Mike North, president of Commodity Risk Management Group and president of Dairy Business Association. The panel is open to all registered attendees of Dairy Strong and will be available to view on YouTube after the event via dairystrong.org
 Dairy Strong is also offering three educational tracks for attendees to choose from: legislative and advocacy, consumer trends and dairy technology. Attendees can attend programs from just one track or mix and match depending on their interest.
The legislative and advocacy track includes:
“Participate and persuade: Lobbying to make a difference” presented by John Holevoet and Aaron Stauffacher of Edge and  Shawn Pfaff of Pfaff Public Affairs. Sponsored by Edge.
“VTAs and calf hutch lots: The legal treatment of “process wastewater” presented by David Crass of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP. Sponsored by Michael Best & Friedrich LLP.
The track on consumer trends includes:
“Engaging neighbors and protecting from activists presented by Allyson Jones-Brimmer of the Animal Agriculture Alliance. Sponsored by Quality Liquid Feeds .
“Live feed from inside the brain of social media presented by Leah Beyer of Elanco. Sponsored by Elanco.
The track on dairy technology includes:
“Farm decision making: unlocking the power of data and analytics” presented by Ricardo Daura of Cargill Digital Insights. Sponsored by Cargill.
“Is a robotic system right for your dairy?”  Sponsored by Compeer Financial featuring Mark Berning of Green Waves Farm, St. Michael, Minn.; Tom Oesch of Swisslane Farm, Alto, Mich.; and Steve Bodart of Compeer Financial.
The Innovation Stage, a smaller presentation venue on the trade show floor, is returning this year to Dairy Strong.  This space features timely presentations in a concise 20-minute format focused on emerging technologies and innovations. A full listing of these eight lightning presentations is at dairystrong.org.
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. For more information about Dairy Strong including schedule and registration information, go to dairystrong.org

Continue reading “Dairy Strong speakers announced”

Conaway urges dairy farmers to stay vocal

By MAA

Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Rep. Mike Conaway, (R-Texas), spoke Dec. 13 at the American Dairy Coalition 2017 annual business meeting.

The meeting was attended by producers and allied businesses of the dairy industry from across the country.  Rep. Conway briefed attendees on progress the Agriculture Committee has made on the upcoming Farm Bill and urged ADC to rally the dairy industry into a united front for the 2018 Farm Bill. He said everything is on track for the Farm Bill to be brought to the House Floor early next year and the final Farm Bill to be completed by next fall.

Conaway addressed the rising concerns over a lack of a reliable safety net tool for the dairy industry. He discussed new policy that is moving forward that will improve current tools dairy producers are using for risk management because of the continued loss of profitability due to depressed milk prices. ADC will release more details as they become available.  Continue reading “Conaway urges dairy farmers to stay vocal”

Interest drives new dairy science major at UW-Platteville

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

At a time when some colleges are cutting back on ag-related programs due to fiscal concerns, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is doing just the opposite. Located in southwest Wisconsin, the university is strengthening its ag-related programs, including creating a dairy science major.

“For more than 100 years, we have had a hands-on ag program, but nothing specifically with the name ‘dairy’ on it,” said Tera Montgomery, associate professor of dairy and animal science in the UW-Platteville School of Agriculture and the animal science program coordinator.  “We had dairy-related classes in our animal sciences area, but employers were looking for students who had the word ‘dairy’ in their degree.” Continue reading “Interest drives new dairy science major at UW-Platteville”

Feast & Famine in the ag industry — December 2017

By MAA

FAMINE: In the state of Wisconsin, no other industry gets close to the $44 billion annually generated by the dairy industry.

According to the University of Wisconsin, the business of milk has more impact in the state than the citrus industry does to Florida or the potato sector does to Idaho.

So when the head of the state’s largest business lobby — Kurt Bauer of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce — recently floated the idea of removing “America’s Dairyland” from Wisconsin license plates, one can justifiably question whether he’s lost the credibility to lead the organization. Continue reading “Feast & Famine in the ag industry — December 2017”

Column: No, I don’t want the organic version

By Carlie Ostrom
For MAA

It’s rare to walk into an urban restaurant or market without being bombarded by signs touting cage-free eggs, pasture-raised beef, or GMO-free wheat. I didn’t always run into “foodie” culture, however. I grew up in Wisconsin, where I spent my summers showing cattle and giving tours of my family’s dairy farms.

Since my departure from home for college two years ago, I’ve lived in Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco. I must admit, it’s still shocking to see how adamant my new urban peers are about food standards considering their lack of connection to the agricultural world. People genuinely believe that their food is better for them and better for the world if its production methods are old-fashioned. I’m going to deconstruct this view: If we’re looking at it from a consequentialist standpoint, modern farming is actually better for everyone  —  farmers, consumers, animals  and the Earth. Continue reading “Column: No, I don’t want the organic version”

How to get your poinsettia to rebloom

By Michigan State University Extension

Having a poinsettia plant during the holidays is a tradition for many people, and some often wonder if it’s possible to get the plant to bloom again for next year. It is possible, but it just doesn’t happen if the plant is indoors. Poinsettias require very specific light conditions to allow the plant to make flowers again. This requires some management to get it to bloom for the holidays. Continue reading “How to get your poinsettia to rebloom”

Poinsettia season in bloom

By Nikki Kallio
MAA

At favorite grocery and home stores, it’s time for consumers to find the bright red, pretty pink or soft white blooms of poinsettias — and maybe some showy blue and purple glittery ones.

Growers know the poinsettia is a fairly steady holiday favorite with consumers, but it’s maybe not the plant they most look forward to growing. Poinsettias are not considered a profitable crop, said Erik Runkle, a horticulture professor with the Michigan State University Extension.

“Poinsettias take a long time to grow,” he said. “They’re starting to grow these usually in August and they’re not selling until sometime in November. And let’s face it, the price is fairly low, considering the amount of space they take up in the greenhouse.”

Continue reading “Poinsettia season in bloom”

Developing the next generation of ag leaders

Dan Verhasselt is vice president of sales for Ornua Ingredients North America.

By Randy Tenpas
For MAA

To quote Vince Lombardi, “Leaders are made; they are not born.” So it is true when it comes to Wisconsin’s agriculture industry. How ironic that one of the leading industries in Wisconsin is comprised of leaders who excel in both technical and soft skills. In other words, ag professionals are both doers and communicators.

That’s the case with Dan Verhasselt, vice president of sales for Ornua Ingredients North America, a manufacturer of pasteurized process cheese products. He serves on the leadership team at Ornua’s 110,000-square-foot plant in Hilbert, Wis. The plant includes an impressive research and development lab. Verhasselt’s staff of four sales representatives is responsible for serving the industrial food sector with customized cheese technologies and solutions. Some of his customers work at multi-national food companies throughout North America. Continue reading “Developing the next generation of ag leaders”

Nebraska woman named nation’s top pig farmer

For MAA

Leslie McCuiston, a pig farmer from Columbus, Neb., has been named the 2017 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year by the National Pork Board.

McCuiston achieved the highest combined score from a third-party judging panel and online voting. The award recognizes a pig farmer who excels at raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles and who connects with today’s consumers about how pork is produced.

“We are pleased to have Leslie represent America’s pig farmers. She embodies the very best in pig farming,” said Terry O’Neel, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from Friend, Neb. “It’s important that we share with today’s consumers how we raise their food in an ethical and transparent way. Leslie’s interest in sharing her farm’s story, as well as putting a face on today’s pig farming, will help us reach this goal.” Continue reading “Nebraska woman named nation’s top pig farmer”