Wautoma, WI
Current Conditions
0:56 AM CDT
Cloudy
Temperature
34°F
Dew Point
32°F
Humidity
92%
Wind
CM at 0 mph
Barometer
30.39 in. F
Visibility
9.00 mi.
Sunrise
07:20 a.m.
Sunset
06:02 p.m.
Morning Forecast (7:00am-12:00pm)
Temperatures will range from 28 to 45 degrees with partly cloudy skies. Winds will be light from the east. No precipitation is expected.
7-Day Forecast
Wednesday
55°F / 28°F
Partly Cloudy
Thursday
52°F / 35°F
Mostly Cloudy
Friday
62°F / 44°F
Partly Cloudy
Saturday
58°F / 37°F
Sunny
Sunday
57°F / 37°F
Light Rain
Monday
62°F / 49°F
Light Rain
Tuesday
57°F / 36°F
Scattered Showers
Detailed Short Term Forecast
Issued at 0:56 AM CDT
Wednesday...Temperatures will range from a high of 55 to a low of 28 degrees with partly cloudy skies. Winds will range between 2 and 10 miles per hour from the southsoutheast. No precipitation is expected.
This Afternoon ...Temperatures will range from 49 to 55 degrees with clear skies. Winds will range between 6 and 10 miles per hour from the southeast. No precipitation is expected.
This Evening ...Temperatures will range from 46 to 39 degrees with clear skies. Winds will remain steady around 9 miles per hour from the southeast. No precipitation is expected.
Overnight ...Temperatures will range from 38 to 35 degrees with partly cloudy skies. Winds will remain steady around 7 miles per hour from the south. No precipitation is expected.
Thursday...Temperatures will range from a high of 52 to a low of 35 degrees with mostly cloudy skies. Winds will range between 1 and 12 miles per hour from the south. Less than 1 tenth inch of rain is possible.

Sometimes we don't know a good thing until it's gone

April 18, 2013 | 0 comments

Despite a slick ad campaign to the contrary, most of us in Wisconsin are pretty sure that our dairy cows are happier than their California cousins.

Based on recent figures, it seems that the same is likely true for the dairy farm owners.

California lost 105 dairy farms in 2012. That's a lot of farms any way you slice it, but in a state like California with less than 1,600 dairy herds (compared to around 12,000 in Wisconsin) losing over 100 herds in a year is a painful blow.

Why were California dairies hit so hard in 2012?

In short, the risks inherent in the California model of dairying came home to roost.

In contrast to Wisconsin dairy farms, which own land as well as cows and produce a high percentage of their own feed, California dairies rely on purchasing grain and forages from out of state.

With corn prices at record highs and alfalfa stores at record lows due to the drought, California dairies felt the pinch when it came to feeding its cows last year.

According to the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture, 30 percent of farmland in Wisconsin is rented. In California, by contrast, the percentage of rented acres is closer to 50 percent.

It is important to note that this figure represents all types of crops and operations, not just dairy farms.

But to the extent that the figures are emblematic of the differences between the Wisconsin and California models of agriculture, these numbers suggest that land ownership is a risk mitigation strategy that has served Wisconsin farmers well in an era of great economic volatility.

Sometimes we don't know a good thing until it's gone.

We've got a good thing going here in Wisconsin - animal agriculture is still largely tied to the land base that supports it. The received wisdom is that the hottest trends in finance and fashion start on the coasts and work their way inward.

Our coastal compatriots may chide us for being behind the times, but we also have the chance to see what ideas work and what don't.

The current state of affairs in California suggests strongly that the concept of separating the acres from the cows is a bandwagon we do not want to hop on.

Why should we be contemplating these questions right now in Wisconsin?

For one, the trend of renting rather than owning acres is growing: the percent of rented acres was 26 percent in 1987 and 27 percent in 1997.

If one of our methods for supporting the dairy industry is minimizing risk, that is not a positive trend. Taking some of the steam out of the current run-up in land values would go a long way toward making land ownership viable for all farms in Wisconsin, and particularly beginning farms.

In this context, we should question the current proposal by the governor to make it easier for foreign corporations and individuals to buy large tracts of land in Wisconsin.

Such a change would likely have an inflationary effect on land values, driving land ownership even further out of reach.

The strength of Wisconsin's dairy farms lies in their diversification and resilience - a brilliant system where manure feeds the plants, the plants feed the cows, and the cows feed the farmer.

All of this works best when the cows and the land are part of the same farm. A farm that is producing both grain and milk is in a much better position to weather price and weather shocks than one that is not.

Our friend Nick Levendofsky from Kansas Farmers Union recently shared a photo of a circa-1970 Moor Man's feed decorative plate. It features a picture of a barn and silo surrounded by rolling fields of grain and pasture, and flanked on three sides by beef and dairy cows, pigs, chickens, and sheep.

The inscription at the top reads: "Buy only what you cannot raise or process on your farm or ranch."

The cows on that plate, feeding on the bounty from the surrounding hillsides, look pretty happy to me.

Kara Slaughter

Government Relations Director

Wisconsin Farmers Union

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