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KIMBERLY, WI

Database hopes to guide runoff prevention

A Wisconsin nonprofit has created a new database to determine the best methods for preventing chemicals, soil and manure from draining into Wisconsin waterways.
Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance database tracks how effective counter-runoff practices are near the Plum and Kankapot Creeks, which connect to the Fox River.

A 2015 study by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource says the creeks contribute the highest level of phosphorus and sediment into the river per agricultural acre. The watersheds received a $5 million grant from Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to use cover crops, tillage practices, grass waterways, buffer strips and stream bank restoration to counteract runoff.

MADISON, WI

Assembly OKs tougher penalties for animal sex

Wisconsin Assembly has approved a bill that would increase penalties for having sex with an animal. The Assembly passed the bipartisan bill on Feb. 15 on a voice vote. It goes next to the Senate.

The measure would make sex with an animal a felony punishable by up to six years in prison. The crime is currently a misdemeanor. The bill also would increase penalties for repeat offenses.  Animal rights groups and police agencies support the bill.

MADISON, WI

Number of WI farms continues to drop

The number of smaller farms in Wisconsin continue to drop, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Farms and Land in Farms 2017 Summary report.

The last report lists the total number of farms in Wisconsin in 2017 as 68,500. Farms in the $1,000-$9,999 sales class showed a decrease of 200 farms from 2016. Total land in farms in Wisconsin in 2017 was 14.3 million acres, down 100,000 acres from a year ago. Farms in the $1,000-$9,999 sales class showed a decrease of 100,000 acres from 2016.

Wisconsin’s average farm size in 2017 was 209 acres, down one acre from 2016. The average farm size for those in the $1,000,000 and over sales class was 1,400 acres, a decrease of 79 acres since 2016.

The number of farms in the United States for 2017 is estimated at 2.05 million, down 12 thousand farms from 2016. Total land in farms, at 910 million acres, decreased 1 million acres from 2016. The average farm size for 2017 is 444 acres, up 2 acres from the previous year.

CONCORD, NH

New Hampshire bill targets soda on kids menus

Fewer children will wash down their chicken fingers and fries with soda if a bill limiting beverage choices for restaurant children's meals gets through the New Hampshire Legislature.

The bill would apply to restaurants that serve children's meals that include food and a beverage for one price. Such meals would only be allowed to include milk, 100 percent juice or juice combined with water, plain water or flavored water with no sweeteners. Customers still could purchase soda or other sugary drinks on the side.

Lawmakers said the change would help children learn healthy eating habits. Lawmakers in Vermont, Massachusetts, Hawaii and New York are also considering restrictions on children's meals.

LANSING, MI

Cattle infected with bovine TB traced to Michigan farm

Officials say bovine tuberculosis has been detected in a western Michigan cattle herd.
The state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says two cattle that tested positive at a processing facility were traced to a farm in Ottawa County.

The department has established a three-mile surveillance area around the farm. All cattle in the area must undergo testing within six months.
Officials say the infected animals originated with a herd in Franklin County, Indiana, that tested positive for bovine TB in 2016.

Indiana and Michigan are among six states known to have cattle with the chronic respiratory illness. Officials say the bovine TB strain in Ottawa County is different from a type that has infected cattle and deer in Michigan's northeastern Lower Peninsula.

TALLAHASSEE, FL

Cracker cattle may become official Florida cattle

Florida would recognize the Florida Cracker cattle as the official state cattle under a bill passed by the House.

The House unanimously passed the bill to recognize the unique Florida breed that descended from cattle brought to Florida by the Spanish in the early 16th century. The breed adapted over the centuries to Florida's heat and grass and scrub plants with low-value nutrition.

While the cows aren't commercially bred, herds are maintained at several state parks and forests. The bill also permanently puts in place the loggerhead turtle as the official state saltwater reptile and the Florida Cracker horse as the official state horse.

SEATTLE, WA

Pet food company investigated over contamination claims

State and federal authorities are investigating a raw pet food company based in a Seattle suburb after finding a pattern of salmonella and listeria contamination in its products.

The Seattle Times reports the FDA and the state Department of Agriculture have launched investigations into the Tukwila-based Darwin's Natural Pet Products following multiple complaints and four recalls related to its products.

The FDA says the complaints and recalls span from October 2016 to as recently as this week.

The federal agency says it has investigated six illness and death complaints, including the death of a kitten from a salmonella infection. It has also investigated three cases of animals being injured by bone shards in the products.

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