WI couple wins National Outstanding Young Farmers Award

Sam and Jenn Zimmerman from Ringle, Wis., received a National Outstanding Young Farmer Award.
The Zimmermans operate On-Q Holsteins, where they raise 164 milking cows and 180 Holstein heifers on 450 acres. The use of genetic testing, embryo transfer, in-vitro fertilization and the use of sexed semen, have allowed them to isolate the “elites” in their herd and grow the genetics very quickly. This has produced cows scoring excellent, a recent Dam of Merit, 2016 progressive genetics award winner from the Holstein Association and five embryos being exported to France.
The other three national winners were: Robby and Stephanie Bevis from Arkansas, Ian and Val Plagge from Iowa and Nick and Sunny Cummings from Ohio.

Conference looks at urban/rural divide in Wisconsin

MADISON — After spending a decade visiting rural communities and inviting herself to listen in on informal conversations about politics at diners, gas stations and other local gathering spots, University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist Kathy Cramer has learned a lot about the state’s rural-urban divide. She summarized her findings in her 2016 book The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker.

On  Jan. 25, Cramer will interpret her book for an agricultural audience during the keynote talk at the 2018 Wisconsin Agricultural Outlook Forum. The theme of this year’s forum is “Navigating the Rural-Urban Divide in Wisconsin.”

Due to her unusual research approach, Cramer developed a unique and deep understanding of a perspective she calls rural consciousness, which she describes as someone’s identity as a rural person combined with a sense that people in rural communities do not get their fair share of attention, resources and respect. Cramer will explain this perspective at the forum. Continue reading “Conference looks at urban/rural divide in Wisconsin”

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

By Carlie Ostrom

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

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

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


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”

Farmers use drones to better manage their operations

Jeff VanderWerff uses a drone for multiple purposes on his farm in Sparta, Mich.

By Leah Call

Drone technology is becoming an integral part of precision agriculture practices throughout the Midwest. This aerial eye in the sky enables farmers to increase efficiencies and boost productivity. With drones, farmers can monitor crops and livestock and manage inputs through surveying and mapping with spectrum, thermal and near infrared imagery.

“Drones are an interesting piece of technology to utilize,” said Jeff VanderWerff, who farms 200 acres of apples and 2,000 acres of crops with his father, uncle and brother in Sparta, Mich. “We use them primarily for scouting purposes and for management purposes in our orchard.

“When you get a group of workers out into an apple orchard, it is hard to keep track of where all the workers are, where all the bins are,” VanderWerff continued. “The drone allows me to find my workers and find my fruit bins quickly and efficiently versus spending half an hour on the Gator driving through an orchard. I can just fly over and get an aerial view of what is going on.” Continue reading “Farmers use drones to better manage their operations”

Apps help farmers keep an eye on the weather

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

There is no doubt weather plays a vital role in a farm’s success. Thanks to technology, farmers now have access to essential weather information in the palm of their hand, providing them with information about what to expect in the coming hours and hard data about the previous 24 hours, as well as historical data.

The Internet is crowded with weather apps, but farmers need an app specifically designed for their needs and includes specific information, such as precipitation totals and precise information about wind speed and direction. Developers have rolled out multiple applications to meet farmers’ needs.

The DTN Ag Weather Tools app, which is only available in iTunes, debuted five years ago and relies on information from weather stations across the country. The app – one of the first designed exclusively for the ag industry –  features GPS-based roaming alerts, forecasts and touch screen interactive displays.

Continue reading “Apps help farmers keep an eye on the weather”

Wisconsin-grown Christmas tree wins national contest

The official White House Christmas Tree, which is from Wisconsin, goes up in the Blue Room. Photo courtesy of the White House


A balsam fir Christmas tree grown by David and Jim Chapman of Silent Night Evergreens in Endeavor, Wis., was named the 2017 Grand Champion at the National Christmas Tree Association’s (NCTA) 2017 National Christmas Tree Contest.

As growers of the Grand Champion tree, the Chapmans will present the official 2017 White House Christmas tree this season. Since 1966, NCTA members provided the official Christmas Tree for display in the White House Blue Room.

Ed Hedlund of Hedlund Christmas Trees, in Elma, Wash., was named reserve champion of the contest. Continue reading “Wisconsin-grown Christmas tree wins national contest”