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MADISON

Farm-to-School coordinator position could be cut

Under the proposed 2017-19 budget, the statewide farm-to-school program coordinator would be cut, saving taxpayers $86,200 a year.

Wisconsin served as a trailblazer, when it created the position in 2009, which helps to bring healthy, locally grown food into public schools, establishing school gardens and promoting ag education in schools. The position - overseen under the arm of the Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection - has been vacant since May.

Under the budgetary axe, the 15-member council made up of advocates from the ag, health and education fields would also be cut.

Currently 32 states have either a full-time or part-time coordinator. Wisconsin would be among the first to abolish the position.

FORESTVILLE

Hearing held for Door County CAFO expansion

A public hearing about the expansion of a dairy herd to include more than 10,000 cows was held at the Forestville Town Hall.

S & S Ag Enterprises LLC, a dairy farm in southern Door County is proposing to expand its dairy herd from 6,820 cows to 10,230 cows. The farm, a concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, has submitted its nutrient management plan necessary for a pollutant discharge elimination system permit, according to information from the state Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR has tentatively decided to reissue the farm's pollutant discharge elimination system permit.

The farm operations affect surface water and groundwater within the Ahnapee River watershed and Lake Michigan drainage basin.

NEENAH

Neenah spreads lime sludge on farm fields

The Neenah water utility budgets $200,000 annually to pay for disposal of sludge produced by the city's water plant.

The by-products of the Neenah water treatment process, known as lime sludge, aren't hauled to a landfill. Rather, they are spread on agricultural fields to condition the soil.

Utility Director Kent Taylor said he is searching for someone who will pay for the sludge to offset the disposal cost, if not turn a profit, but that day hasn't come.

Currently the sludge is spread on farm fields and can increase the pH of acidic soils and provide calcium and magnesium for plants.

"We know that it is beneficial to agriculture," Taylor said. "If there's a benefit there, that means I should be selling it."

MADISON

Program to attract new farmers

As Wisconsin’s current farmers age, our economy must find new farmers to take their place. Wisconsin legislators Mark Spreitzer and Janis Ringhand introduced legislation to create a student loan reimbursement program for new farmers. The average age of a farm operator in Wisconsin is 54.5 years.

The New Farmer Student Loan Assistance Program would reimburse up to $30,000 of student debt for those who commit to operating a small or medium-sized farm in Wisconsin for at least five years.

The bill addresses the need for more new, educated farmers from both farming and non-farming backgrounds.  By awarding grants to qualified new farmers, the program helps to reduce or eliminate their need to find extra money for monthly loan payments while launching a farming career.

NEW LONDON

CHS Larsen Cooperative offers $20K in Scholarships

CHS Larsen Cooperative is offering up to $20,000 in scholarships. This is the seventeenth year they have offered a scholarship program for their customers; already helping over 200 students.

The cooperative is offering graduating high school seniors and currently enrolled post high school education students a chance to apply for up to $20,000 in scholarships. Students must be furthering their education in agricultural or a non-agricultural major at a two-year agricultural short course program, technical school, a two-year school, or a four-year college. To be eligible, the student, parent, or guardian must be a patron member of CHS Larsen Cooperative.

The criteria and 2016 application are on their website CHSLarsenCooperative.com/community/scholarship. The deadline for the CHS Larsen Cooperative scholarship is March 15, 2017. In addition to their local scholarship, CHS Inc. Foundation awards more than 300- $1,000 scholarships. To apply visit chsinc.com/stewardships/scholarships. The deadline for the foundation scholarship is April 1, 2017.

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