WI couple wins National Outstanding Young Farmers Award

By MAA
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

By MAA
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”

Top dairy cooperative rebrands to give farmers an Edge

By MAA
GREEN BAY, Wis.   — Milk is getting a new voice in America’s Heartland. Meet Edge, the dairy farmer cooperative taking a fresh approach to representing its members.

Edge, formerly known as the Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative, has been a game-changer for dairy farmers since its inception in 2010.

“Edge is now representative of the growth and evolution our cooperative has undergone over the past seven years. It’s also a promise of the future,” said John Pagel, a Wisconsin dairy farmer and president of Edge. “We put our members at the forefront of the discussions, giving dairy farmers a voice in matters critical to their businesses and their communities.”

Continue reading “Top dairy cooperative rebrands to give farmers an Edge”

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”

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.

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.

Continue reading “Demonstration network focuses on farm sustainability”

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.

Continue reading “Proposed manure rule change worries farmers”