Study: Quarter of all U.S. jobs tied to agriculture


More than a fifth of the U.S. economy and a quarter of American jobs are either directly or indirectly tied to the food and agriculture sectors, according to a new study commissioned by industry groups.

The study estimates that more than 43 million jobs and $1.9 trillion in total wages are linked to the two sectors, which contribute some $894 billion in taxes. The food and agriculture sectors together account for $146 billion in exports, the study found.

In all, the study, which was released today, pegs the two sectors’ total economic impact at $6.7 trillion.

“As policymakers consider tax reform and other means to expand economic activity, I hope they will have a better understanding of how the food and agriculture sector not only feeds Americans, but also feeds the U.S. economy,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute.

The study was commissioned by 22 food and agriculture groups, including the Corn Refiners Association, the American Bakers Association and the United Fresh Produce Association. The groups posted the results on a site that allows individuals to search industry impact by state and congressional district.

Study: Land near CAFOs worth more


A study of Wisconsin land sales found farmland in some counties is worth more if it’s closer to a concentrated animal feeding operation, also known as CAFOs.

The analysis came out of a larger project to combine statewide data on land use, land sales and soil survey data, said Simon Jette-Nantel, farm management specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Because CAFOs need large areas of land to grow crops and minimize the carbon footprint by spreading natural nutrients, Jette-Nantel predicted there would be a relation between farmland value and its proximity to a CAFO. Which is exactly what an analysis of farmland sales from the first six months of 2017 in Barron and Marathon counties found.

“If it is close to a CAFO, it would tend to command a premium. That premium so far from what we’ve estimated could vary somewhere between $400 to $800 per acre,” Jette-Nantel said.

Agriculture groups part of new Michigan water coalition


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

FVTC plans Ag Development Career Day


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.

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Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center official name for new education center


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:

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.

Demonstration network focuses on farm sustainability

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

Farmers in Kewaunee and southern Door counties are teaming up with multiple partners to study and demonstrate conservation practices to protect groundwater and surface water in the region.

The Door-Kewaunee Demonstration Farm Network is a partnership between the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Door and Kewaunee Land Conservation Departments and Peninsula Pride Farms, a farmer-led organization. The network was officially launched with a Sept. 7 field day at the Deer-Run Dairy LLC near Kewaunee, one of four farms participating in the network. The other participants include: Augustian Farms LLC in Kewaunee, Brey Cycle Farm LLC in Sturgeon Bay and Kinnard Farms in Casco.

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Proposed manure rule change worries farmers

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

If the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources restricts manure application in certain regions of the state, farmer Rob Kiehneau is afraid his small Door County dairy will close.

Kiehneau, who milks between 60 and 70 cows and grows crop at his Egg Harbor farm, said about 75 percent of his farm rests on land with less than 2 feet of soil to bedrock. Under proposed changes to NR 151, farms with less than 2 feet of soil to bedrock would not be able to spread manure.

“We feel we do a good job with our applications. This rule change would make it hard for us to operate in our present location,” Kiehneau said during a hearing Friday on the proposed rule change at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. An estimated 30 people spoke at the hearing, which was simulcast in Madison.

The DNR announced the proposed changes to manure spreading rules in certain parts of Wisconsin to address decades-old groundwater quality issues in areas with Karst topography. Karst topography features shallow soils over heavily fractured limestone bedrock, which makes it easier for water and livestock waste from the surface and human waste from aging septic systems to enter the groundwater.

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Poppin good crop: Nebraska leads nation in popcorn production

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

Driving past cornfields in the Midwest, drivers likely realize some crops are earmarked for animal consumption – feed corn – while others are grown for people to eat – sweet corn. But there’s another possibility: the plants are grown for their seeds, which when heated to just the right temperature are the perfect movie-time snack.

Discovered thousands of years ago by Native Americans, popcorn is a special kind of flint corn cultivated by farmers. And we like our popcorn: Americans consume 17 billion quarts of popcorn annually. Nebraska leads the nation in popcorn production, followed by Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and South Dakota.

Overall, most popcorn is raised on smaller farms, with most farmers raising between 100 and 250 acres, according to the National Popcorn Institute.

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Program provides on-farm experience to non-farm professionals

By Leah Call

“Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” is a familiar lesson in understanding and empathy. The Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW) offers an opportunity to walk three days in a farmer’s shoes. PDPW’s Agricultural Professional Partnerships (APP) program enables individuals working in the ag industry with limited farm experience an opportunity to roll up their sleeves, throw on some work boots and spend time on the farm.

“Non-farming professionals often come into the industry not knowing anything,” explained Amy Bonomie, PDPW manager of Partnerships & Public Outreach. “This really gives them a safe environment to step back and immerse themselves into modern ag. And they come out of this more knowledgeable, confident and open to listening and working closer with the farmers.”

PDPW launched the program in 2010 at the request of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which wanted to provide training for staff that did not have a farm background. The three-day crash course is ideal for non-farm professionals, such as DNR and other government staff, milk processors, bankers and sales and marketing professionals.

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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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