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MONTPELIER, VT

Dairy safety net program expected in June

The federal Farm Service Agency says a program to help hard-pressed dairy farmers is expected to be ready for enrollment in June.

Dairy farmers are in their fifth year of low milk prices that have driven thousands out of business.

Thirty-eight U.S. senators recently signed a letter urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement the insurance program quickly, saying dairy farmers' situation "is urgent."

Farmers would pay for coverage and receive payments when the gap between milk prices and feed prices reach a certain level. The program was delayed by the partial government shutdown.

Payments will be retroactive to January.

MADISON, WI

Blue Ribbon Meat Products Auction set

Plans are underway for the 28th annual Governor’s Blue Ribbon Meat Products Auction August 6, 2019. Join the crowd for another Blue Ribbon-winning year and help support the Wisconsin 4-H Youth. The fast-paced, lively auction begins at 7 p.m. in a new location for 2019 – the Expo Center at the Wisconsin State Fair. Registration opens at 5:30 p.m.

Highlights of this year’s fun-filled event include announcements of Grand Champions and Reserve Grand Champions in each product category, as well as the 2019 Best of Show product. The prestigious Best of Show is selected from more than 100 entries and will be announced at the auction.

Last August, more than $110,000 was raised to promote 4-H youth programs throughout the state. The programs provide real-world skills that prepare 4-H youth for challenges they’ll face in the future.  

MADISON, WI

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers to speak at 2019 Cheese Industry Conference

The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) announced that Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers will address 2019 Cheese Industry Conference attendees as part of the organization’s annual meeting, set for Thursday, April 18, beginning at 12 p.m., at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

Gov. Evers is set to speak about current challenges and opportunities in Wisconsin’s dairy processing industry, as well as his plans to support growth.

In his recently-introduced 2019-21 Executive Budget, Evers included an increase in funding for dairy processor grants issued by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) for innovation, modernization, and food safety projects, from $200,000 to $400,000 annually.  He also proposed an allocation of $200,000 to support the Wisconsin Initiative for Dairy Exports program, designed to help build Wisconsin’s dairy brand in international markets and increase dairy exports, and adjustments to DATCP expenditure authority which allow the reclassification of staff positions for the retention of key, high quality personnel.

BOISE, ID

Senate allows hemp-loaded trucks to cross state

Legislation allowing hemp-loaded trucks to cross Idaho — where hemp is illegal — while traveling from one state to another or from Canada to a state has cleared the Senate.

The Senate voted 31-1 to send an amended version of the bill back to the House for consideration there. The House passed the bill late last week, but Rep. Caroline Troy suggested several amendments.

One amendment to the current bill seeks to have the Idaho Department of Agriculture create rules in cooperation with law enforcement officials that lawmakers will consider early next year.

PASCO, WA

Idaho rancher under investigation in death of cows

An Idaho rancher says 29 of his cows died in winter storms in Washington state, but investigators suspect he let them starve.

James Peter Marek, 42, of Slate Creek, Idaho, appeared in Franklin County Superior Court last week after being arrested for investigation of animal cruelty, the Tri-City Herald reported.

Marek filed a claim with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in February saying he lost an unspecified number of cows. The Washington State Dairy Association estimates 1,800 dairy cows died during the blizzard on Feb. 9 and 10, at an estimated loss of $3.5 to $4 million.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said investigators received a report from a witness who spotted dead cattle on Bureau of Land Management property off Highway 395.

eputies flew over the area and saw the carcasses scattered across less than a third of a square mile (over 0.8 square kilometers), Capt. Monty Huber said.

Deputies said they found no sign that Marek’s cows had been provided any food and there were no tire tracks in the snow suggesting they’d been attended to.

Marek’s attorney, Scott Johnson, said there’s no evidence of what caused the deaths because no necropsies have been conducted. Judge Jackie Shea Brown ordered Marek released from custody Thursday.

“All that the witness knows is that there is possibly 29 dead cows. But there is no evidence of how these cows died,” Johnson told the judge.

Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant said he has not decided whether to file charges.

“The investigation is ongoing, and as additional information is obtained, the prosecutor’s office will evaluate what charges, if any, are appropriate,” Sant said. “The allegations are concerning and warrant further investigation for all interested parties.”

DURANGO, CO

Utah trial scheduled for Colorado man accused in cattle case

The case of a Colorado man accused of trying to kill a Utah rancher's cattle is scheduled to go to trial next week.

The Durango Herald reports Mark Franklin is scheduled to be tried in Utah's Carbon County on charges of trespassing and wanton destruction of livestock.

Prosecutors say Franklin closed a rancher's corral gate on grazing lands in southeastern Utah to purposely cut off water to cattle in 2017.

Franklin's attorney, Paul Cassell, says his client is looking forward to trial and is "confident the evidence will exonerate him."

Environmentalist Rose Chilcoat, the wife of Franklin, was initially charged, but the Utah attorney general's office determined there wasn't enough evidence.

The Durango couple claimed the charges were in retaliation for Chilcoat's work with Great Old Broads for Wilderness.

DURHAM, N.H.

University of New Hampshire's new brew: Strawberry Milkman

A partnership between the experimental agriculture and beer brewing programs at the University of New Hampshire has produced another brew.

Strawberry Milkman is the third beer to be developed as part of the partnership between the university's brewing science program and the New Hampshire Agriculture Experiment Station. It's described as a sweet, cloudy IPA, and is made using strawberries developed for optimal production in New England using advanced genetic techniques.

The beer also includes fruit from a multi-year research project that involves growing strawberries in tunnels to extend the growing season.

The National Brewers Association estimates that the New Hampshire's roughly 60 craft breweries than 100,000 barrels of craft beer annually.

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