Midwest Briefs: 32 cows killed by lightning

Wisconsin State Farmer
Midwest briefs


Lightning strike kills 32 cows 

A farmer in southern Missouri says he discovered more than 30 of his cows were dead after lightning struck his property.

The Springfield News-Leader reports dairy farmer Jared Blackwelder discovered the dead cows April 29. A veterinarian confirmed the cows were struck by lightning.

Blackwelder says he's not sure if his insurance will cover the loss. His cows are certified organic so they're worth more than conventional cattle, and he estimates a total loss of more than $60,000.

Wright County Missouri Farm Bureau shared Blackwelder's story on Facebook. The post has been shared more than 16,000 times and had more than 1,200 comments.

Blackwelder says he'd previously lost three cows to lightning since getting into the organic dairy business in 2007. Blackwelder still has about 120 cows remaining on his farm.


Dairy farmers push for limit on 'milk' label

Some Wisconsin dairy farmers are among a growing contingent of those pushing Congress to limit the use of the name "milk" to beverages that come from animals, not plants.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin has introduced legislation to accommodate dairy farmers, WUWM-FM reported.

Some Wisconsin dairy farmers say the name "milk" is important and should belong only to the kind that comes from animals instead of alternatives.

"Now it's pushing the cashew milk and the almond milk and those kinds of things. You see them advertised all day long," said Jennifer Sauer of Sauer Dairy Farm in Waterloo. "When's the last time you saw a milk mustache commercial? We used to have them all the time, haven't seen them."

Sauer's husband, Shane, said after decades of hard work and lots of money, nothing but milk from animals should be called milk.

"We fought for this label for a long time, they can fight for theirs," Jennifer Sauer said.

Others who aren't in the dairy industry don't care if other products use the name.

American Soybean Association spokesman Patrick Delaney said people who decide to purchase an alternative to dairy milk know the difference. He says soybean farmers have also been getting into the milk market because of demand.

"I think it's something that really pits one aspect of agriculture against another aspect of agriculture and that's unfortunate," he said.


Michigan pipeline had 29 know spills

The National Wildlife Federation released records of spills, ruptures, and equipment failures from an oil and natural gas liquids pipeline system operated by Enbridge Energy that runs through Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, crossing under the Straits of Mackinac.

The data reveals that the system, known as Line 5, has experienced at least 29 spills, which have released more than 1 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids, according to data from the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. This is nearly double the number previously believed to have occurred.

“We have a pipeline system with a history of problems running through our country’s largest source of surface freshwater, and it happens to be operated by the company responsible for one of the largest inland oil spills in North America,” said Mike Shriberg, executive director for the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. “This pipeline system places the Great Lakes and many local communities at an unacceptable risk. The state of Michigan needs to find an alternative to this risky pipeline to protect our drinking water, health, jobs, and way of life.”

Of the 29 recorded incidents, only one was listed as detected by a remote pipeline detection system, according to the records. By contrast, 15 releases were detected by local personnel or the public. The records do not reveal how the remainder of the releases were detected.


Wheat tour forecasts smaller harvest

Participants in the annual hard winter wheat tour have released their final projection on the size of the 2017 crop in Kansas amid uncertainty to the full extent of storm damage.

The Wheat Quality Council's tour forecast Thursday that farmers will cut 281.7 million bushels. The average yield was pegged at 46.1 bushels per acre.

This year's wheat harvest is projected to bring in 185 million fewer bushels than last year. Kansas farmers planted 7.4 million acres of wheat last fall. Disease and damage from snow and freezes may eliminate many fields. That factored into the estimate.

The estimate is made from information gathered from 469 fields. That is fewer than the 655 fields scouts looked at last year because the western third of the state was covered with snow.


Midwest wolves in the crosshairs again

Gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan could again find themselves in hunters' crosshairs — possibly as soon as this fall if federal protections are removed for the predators.

A ruling is expected soon from an appeals court that recently lifted protections for wolves in Wyoming. In Congress, wolf-hunting supporters aren't giving up even though a Minnesota representative was instrumental in killing an effort that would have allowed the three western Great Lakes states to resume wolf hunting.

Gray wolves were once hunted to the brink of extinction in most of the country, but they recovered under Endangered Species Act protections and reintroduction programs. They now number over 5,500 in the lower 48 states, including nearly 3,800 in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has repeatedly tried to remove wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan states from the endangered species list, but courts have stymied those efforts. Now, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is looking at the issue. The same appeals court in March took wolves off the list in Wyoming.

Wisconsin and Minnesota each held three wolf seasons before a federal judge put their wolves back on the list in December 2014. Michigan held one.