Ag briefs: Fires damage barns

Wisconsin State Farmer


La Crosse County resident dies from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the La Crosse County Health Department today announced the first documented death from Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) in the state.

RMSF is rarely reported in Wisconsin and most commonly occurs in the central and southeastern regions of the United States. Most tickborne diseases transmitted in Wisconsin are spread by the blacklegged (or deer) tick; RMSF, however, is spread by the bite of the American dog (or wood) tick .

Early symptoms of RMSF can be mild and typically include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, and stomach pain. If left untreated, however, a RMSF infection can rapidly develop into a serious illness.

“We are saddened to learn of this death and encourage Wisconsin residents to take steps to protect themselves and their families from tick bites while enjoying the outdoors,” said Karen McKeown, State Health Officer.

Most diseases spread by ticks in Wisconsin, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and RMSF, can be effectively treated with antibiotics, making early diagnosis critical. If symptoms develop after a tick bite or after possible tick exposure, see a health care provider.


Fire damages Town of Holland barn

A barn fire was contained quickly Tuesday night in Sheboygan County.

The Sheboygan County Sheriff's Department responded just after 6:30 p.m. to an active barn fire with flames showing through the roof at 309 Sauk Trail Road.

Fire crews were quick to respond and extinguish the flames. Damages were contained to the roof.

No injuries were reported and no damage estimate for the barn has been given yet.


Goats used to combat invasive plant species

Businesses in Minnesota and Wisconsin are using flocks of goats to combat invasive plant species.

A goat services listing website run by Allysse and Dan Sorenson of Wisconsin lists five goats-for-hire businesses in Minnesota and central Wisconsin, the Pioneer Press reported.

The Sorensons manage 115 goats to combat invasive plant species with the animal's appetite rather than with chemicals or machinery. The couple established their business in 2015 after seeing a similar concept in Sweden. Their goats are out at four to six sites at any given time within an 80-mile (129-kilometer) radius.

James Langeslag manages 275 goats for his business, Goat Dispatch, in Minnesota. Goat Dispatch specializes in urban areas, where ordinances were initially an obstacle.

"Now I've started to see a lot of cities opening up and being glad to allow our practice to work here," Langeslag said.

Karl Hakanson is an educator in agriculture and natural resources at the University of Minnesota Extension. He says the concept isn't new.

The disappearance of wild grazers, like bison, has allowed invasive plants to establish a foothold in the environment, according to Hakanson. He said since land has evolved alongside grazers, environments depend on animals to keep non-native plants under control.


Investigation continues into blaze at Missouri pig farm

Investigators are still looking into the cause of a spring blaze that killed thousands of pigs at an animal feeding operation in northeast Missouri.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the blaze in May swept through two structures at Spring Lake Pork in Curryville.

Missouri Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O'Connell says foul play is not suspected. O'Connell says an employee of the farm told a Missouri Division of Fire Safety investigator that an estimated 16,000 pigs were killed in the fire, though other estimates had the number at closer to 6,000.

O'Connell says that by the time fire crews arrived the farm was "burned to the ground." Farm general manager Anthony Russo says the farm was a complete loss.


SE Minnesota hog farm critics seek full environmental review

Residents near a proposed large-scale hog farm in Fillmore County want Gov. Mark Dayton's administration to order a full environmental review.

Waukon, Iowa-based Catalpa wants to build a 4,980-sow piglet-producing facility about 10 miles east of Harmony. It would general over 7 million gallons of manure annually in a geologically porous area of southeastern Minnesota.

Around 400 people packed a community meeting last month to express concern over the impacts to groundwater and the odors.

The Land Stewardship Project and Responsible Agriculture in Karst Country organized a bus trip from the area to St. Paul on July 3 so residents could meet with Dayton and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency officials as the comment period on the initial environmental review closes.

The MPCA will decide if a full environmental impact statement is necessary.


Zoning appeals board nixes permit for large hog farm

A zoning board has overturned a decision in favor of a large-scale hog operation in Delaware County.

Critics say the farm is an industrial facility that's not permitted in a farm zone. They're concerned about odors and water pollution.

Rhett Light wants to house and fatten as many as 10,560 piglets for a pork processor. Light's attorney, Todd Janzen, last week told the Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals that it was second-guessing county commissioners who released a building permit. He says that's not the board's role.

Janzen suggested to The Star Press that he might go to court next. He says he doesn't believe the zoning appeals board can erase a building permit.


New York maple producers have a record year in 2018

It's a sweet year for New York's maple industry.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says producers hit a 74-year record in 2018 with production of 806,000 gallons of maple syrup. Producers benefited from a long season, which lasted 52 days compared to 43 in 2017.

Cuomo says the maple industry in New York has grown by nearly 50 percent in the last five years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says New York's maple production accounts for 19 percent of the national total. There were 2.73 million taps in production in 2018, the highest number since 1943.

The New York State Fair will hold its first Maple Day on Aug. 27, with maple cotton candy, maple doughnuts and other treats.

New York is second in U.S. maple syrup production behind Vermont.