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MADISON

Wisconsin lawmakers say cheese deserves more recognition

At the urging of fourth-grade students, Wisconsin lawmakers want to make cheese the state's official dairy product.

A state Senate committee held a hearing on a proposal from Sen. Howard Marklein and Rep. Todd Novak last week. Assembly Bill 73 and Senate Bill 44 were both approved by the Assembly Agriculture Committee and the Senate Committee on Government Operations during the joint hearing.

Lawmakers got the idea from fourth-graders at Mineral Point Elementary School. Students and their teacher Livia Doyle, spoke at the hearing in support of the legislation.

Milk has enjoyed a designation as the state's official beverage since 1987 and the dairy cow became the state's domestic animal in 1971.Even though Wisconsin produces the most cheese in the country, the state filled with self-proclaimed "cheeseheads" hasn't honored the food with an official designation.

The state produces around a quarter of the country's 11 billion pounds of cheese per year. Wisconsin cheeses also earned top marks at recent World and U.S. Cheese Championships.

GREENVILLE

Greenville Cooperative members approve merger

Greenville Cooperative members have approved a merger with United Cooperative. The merger takes effect April 1.

“Changes in both the economy and agriculture had put increased demands on our cooperative’s efforts to provide needed products, services, expertise, facilities and equipment for members’ growing needs,” said Mark Schleiss, general manger at Greenville Cooperative. “Being a part of United Cooperative will give our members greater financial strength for their investment.”

Greenville Cooperative is a consumer cooperative that specializes in energy, agronomy grain and feed products and services. The cooperative reported sales of $14.2 million for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2016.

Beaver Dam-based United Cooperative, which reported unaudited sales of $632 million in 2016, offers feed, grain, agronomy and energy products and services to Wisconsin farmers and consumers.

SHELL LAKE

Soil health, cover crops workshop set

A field workshop to focus on soil health and the role of cover crops for improved crop performance will be conducted from 1 to 3:30 p.m. April 7, at the Steve Dahlstrom Farm, 23875 Poquette Lake Rd., Shell Lake.

Farmers, farm property owners and anyone interested in learning more about how farmers are building soil heath through conservation cropping systems is encourage to attend. There is no charge and the event is open to the public.

The event will featured speakers from NRCS leading hands-on demonstrations showing how reduced or minimum tillage, cover crops and crop rotations can improve soil health and productivity. Field walks with open discussions will look at winter rye following soybean and peas, oats and radish following winter rye.

CHIPPEWA FALLS

Fleet Farm to build new distribution center

Fleet Farm plans to build a new 1.1 million square foot new distribution center in western Wisconsin. The $65 million Chippewa Falls facility is expected to employ 325 people.

The company's current distribution center is in Appleton.

"Future use or re-use of the existing distribution center is under review at this time. We will explore potential options in the coming months, but there is no decision at this time," the company said in a prepared statement.

A groundbreaking for the project will take place this spring with an anticipated opening of 2018.

MADISON

Grant applications taken through April 14

Wisconsin dairy processors are invited to apply for the Grow Wisconsin Dairy Processor Grants. The grants are intended to foster innovation, improve profitability and sustain the long-term viability of Wisconsin’s dairy processing facilities. The WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is accepting requests for proposals through Apriil 14, 2017.

The Grow Wisconsin Dairy Processor Grant is customizable for each processor and can be used to hire consultants to address a wide range of business needs including food safety, staff training or modernization. Eligible applicants must operate a licensed dairy processing plant engaged in pasteurizing, processing or manufacturing milk or dairy products that is, or will be, located in Wisconsin.

For more information, contact grants specialist Juli Speck at 608-224-5134 or juli.speck@Wisconsin.gov.

HAYWARD

Seminar on insects in the landscape slated

P.J. Liesch, Entomologist and Director of the UW-Madison Insect Diagnostic Lab and Paul Ciga, Forest Health Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will speak on "Insects in the Landscape: from the Back Woods to the Back Yard" during a seminar from 10:30 a.m. to noon, April 6, at the Hayward campus of the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, 15618 Windrose La., Hayward.

The presentation would focus on both insects that are pests and insects that are beneficial or benign. There is no charge nor required registration. For more information contact Kevin Schoessow or Lorraine Toman at the Spooner Area UW-Extension Office at 715-635-3506 or 1-800-528-1914.

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