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REDGRANITE, WI

Passing tractor results in fatal crash

A 72-year-old Coloma man has been pronounced dead after a two-vehicle crash in Waushara County Monday afternoon.

The crash happened about 2:15 p.m. on State 21 near County X, according to a press release from the Wisconsin State Patrol. 

Authorities said the 72-year-old man was traveling westbound on State 21 in a Dodge Ram pickup truck when he decided to pass a farm tractor. As he was making the pass, his passenger side mirror contacted the rear drivers side tire of the farm tractor, the release stated.

The pickup truck then drifted off the road through a southbound ditch and struck a house before coming to a stop, state patrol said.

The 72-year-old man was quickly transported to a hospital in Berlin where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the tractor, a 21-year-old Winneconne man, was not injured in the crash, according to the release.

PELLA, IA

Lely North America announces expansion

Lely North America,manufacturer of milking robots, automated feeding systems and barn cleaners, has announced that it will be significantly expanding its investment, commitment and physical presence in North America.

Chad Huyser, Vice President of Lely North America, says the expansion ensures that Lely North America remains the only dairy automation company manufacturing robotic equipment in North America.

The company is looking to secure a new, larger property to construct a new North American headquarters and production facility located in the Pella, Iowa area. With this expansion, Lely North America will significantly increase its production capacity for the latest A5 Astronaut robotic milking system. Several other dairy automation products currently in Lely’s portfolio will be transitioned into this new facility over time. 

MADISON, WI

Hemp: Farmers/business say "Yes;" Wisconsin bankers say "Not yet"

Confidence in hemp is low among Wisconsin bankers according to a recent Wisconsin Bankers Association survey of 95 Wisconsin bank CEOs and presidents despite farmers and businesses looking more closely at the product.

The survey asked two questions regarding hemp.

The first was “If the 2018 Farm Bill changes the federal view of hemp, will your bank actively seek to provide loans to industrial hemp farmers and/or processors in Wisconsin?”

83% of the responding bankers replied “no,” with 17% responding affirmatively.

The response rate stayed the same when asked, “Do you think industrial hemp will provide enough revenue to stabilize revenue streams for Wisconsin farmers?”

Many Wisconsin bankers say that not enough is known about the crop including cost, price, yield, returns, contracts, and markets. Now that hemp and all its derivatives have been removed from the Controlled Substances Act, it will be treated as a crop.

As the industry grows, the data needed for bankers to make agricultural lending decisions will also increase and ease their current concerns.

JEFFERSON CITY, MO

Supreme Court won't preside over challenge to state egg laws

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to preside over legal challenges to laws in California and Massachusetts requiring larger living areas for some farm animals.

A total of 15 states led by Missouri and Indiana had asked the court to accept original jurisdiction over the lawsuits.

President Donald Trump's administration had urged it not to do so. It said the dispute over interstate commerce was best suited for a district court.

The lawsuit against California targeted a law barring the sale of eggs from hens that are not raised in cages large enough for them to stretch out. The other suit challenged a Massachusetts law requiring all eggs sold there to come from cage-free hens by 2022. That law also bars tight cages for pigs and calves.

MONTPELIER, VT

Dairy summit planned to brainstorm solutions

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets is holding a dairy summit early this spring to try to come up with solutions to help the state's struggling dairy farmers.

The agency says dairy farmers are trapped in an antiquated federal milk pricing system and at the whim of a competitive global structure, with compensation being unpredictable and out of their control.

Officials says the state, congressional delegation, consumers and farmers need to work together to solve "this mammoth problem."

Farmers will be leading the Northern Tier Dairy Summit on April 1 and 2 at Jay Peak Resort. The conference will address production systems, opportunities for diversification or partnerships and building a coalition to strengthen Vermont farms. Officials say a supply management system will not be discussed.

POCATELLO, ID

Idaho farm income declined in 2018, dairy is struggling

Idaho farm income fell for a second straight year in 2018 largely due to overproduction by dairy farmers, according to a recent economic report.

The University of Idaho Extension report estimates total net farm income declined 27 percent to $902 million. Total net farm income represents earnings paid to farmers after subtracting expenses.

Farm cash receipts, estimated at about $7.2 billion, were relatively flat, the Idaho State Journal reported. Cash receipts relate to cash income the farm sector receives from commodity sales.

WASHINGTON D.C.

USDA: Food stamps will be funded through February

The Trump administration says benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, will be funded through February should the government shutdown continue.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is asking states to issue the February benefits on or before Jan. 20 so that they can be paid to the nearly 40 million Americans in the program. SNAP is already fully funded for January.

The administration announced its plans as the White House worked to limit Republican defections on spending bills in the House this week, which Democratic leaders have scheduled in hopes of driving a wedge between GOP lawmakers on the shutdown. Democrats set a vote for Thursday on the agriculture bill, which is largely made up of payments for food stamps, knowing that it would put pressure on Republicans to abandon their leaders and vote for the measure.

The USDA said it can fund SNAP through February thanks to the short-term funding bill that ran out on Dec. 22. That bill included a provision giving federal agencies the authority to make obligated payments to support certain programs for 30 days after its expiration date.

Brandon Lipps, an acting deputy undersecretary, said other USDA programs will also be funded through February, including school lunches, food distribution programs on Indian reservations and child nutrition programs. The latter includes WIC, which provides nutritional assistance to pregnant women, mothers and babies.

Under the provision, the SNAP program will operate as it normally does and without any lapse in service, but with an earlier deadline for states to request benefits through a process called early issuance. That process is typically used during natural disasters, Lipps said, enabling states anticipating hurricanes or other weather events to distribute monthly benefits ahead of time.

Lipps said the USDA is sending letters to all state agencies to explain the process and will issue a blanket waiver of department regulations to allow for the early issuance.

The SNAP program will cost roughly $4.8 billion for February, and those funds have already been appropriated through the expired spending bill. But if the shutdown lasts until March, the USDA could be forced to dip into its reserves to help fund the program, and its $3 billion SNAP contingency fund won't cover a full month of benefits.

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