Ag briefs: Wisconsin leads nation in farm bankruptcies

Wisconsin State Farmer


Fire, explosions destroy shed, farm equipment in Wood County

Firefighters battled a shed fire despite multiple explosions near Vesper in Wood County on Aug. 20.

First responders were dispatched around 11:20 p.m. to the structure fire at 4535 County C in the town of Sigel, according to the Vesper Fire Department.

Firefighters arrived to find a shed on fire with many pieces of farming equipment and a large fuel tank inside.

Officials said intense flames and multiple explosions made extinguishing the blaze difficult, but no other buildings or property were affected.

Firefighters from Vesper, Rudolph, Arpin, Pittsville, Richfield, along with United Ambulance were on scene for about three hours.

Property owners said tractors, trailers, generators, wagons and other farm equipment were destroyed. Officials said the building was a complete loss.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, and there were no injuries reported.


Wisconsin leads nation in family farm bankruptcies

Wisconsin continues to top the nation in family farm bankruptcies.

The American Farm Bureau Federation says that from July 2018 through June 2019, Wisconsin farmers filed 45 bankruptcies under Chapter 12, a section of the U.S. bankruptcy code that provides financially troubled family farmers with a streamlined path to repay all or part of their debts. Data show the total was five fewer than the previous 12-month period but still No. 1 in the nation.

Kansas, meanwhile, saw Chapter 12 filings increase by 13, to 39. In Minnesota, filings increased by 11, to 31.

North Dakota had nine filings, up one from the previous period. South Dakota increased by 12, to 13.

With depressed milk prices besetting Wisconsin's thousands of dairy operations, the state has led the country in farm bankruptcies in recent years. Ronald Wirtz, regional outreach director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, also has pointed to Wisconsin's smaller average farm size as a factor.

Wisconsin also has lots of farms — the 11th highest total in the nation, data from the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture shows. Even accounting for the relatively large number of farms, however, Wisconsin's farm bankruptcy rate is among the highest in the country.


Bucks join Kwik Trip on chocolate milk

The Milwaukee Bucks have an official team chocolate milk, because it's Wisconsin. The Bucks and the state's cult-favorite gas station and convenience store Kwik Trip, partnered up on the chocolate milk, the pair announced last week.

The chocolate milk with a green label and the Milwaukee Bucks logo will be availale at all Kwik Trip locations beginning Oct. 1. The team's official milk will also be served at the Buck's training center and the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center.

The 16 oz. bottles come in 1% and whole milk.


Pork producers win court decision against HSUS

On August 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of National Pork Producers Council in its appeal to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

The court's decision upholds the National Pork Board's 2006 federally approved purchase from NPPC of trademarks associated with the organization's "Pork: The Other White Meat" campaign and payments associated with the agreement.

Contrary to its claims – including assertions that proceeds from the transaction were misappropriated by the National Pork Board, the pork "checkoff" – the D.C. Circuit found that HSUS and its fellow plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that they had suffered harm from the transaction, including the associated payments.


Elanco becomes 2nd largest animal health co after $7.6B deal

Elanco Animal Health will spend $7.6 billion to acquire Bayer AG's veterinary medicines business, which would make it the second-largest animal health company.

Elanco said on Aug. 20 that it will pay $5.3 billion, or about 70% of the total price, in cash and the rest in stock. The deal would mean that half of Elanco's overall business would be in the lucrative pet products market. The other half would be generated by livestock related sales.

Company shares fell nearly 4% in early morning trading.

Elanco was spun off from the Indianapolis drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. The company makes antibiotics and feed additives for livestock and flea and heartworm treatments for pets.

The acquisition will expand Elanco e-commerce sales for pets, a hot corner of the market. This summer, the online pet food company Chewy went public and shares soared about 60% on the first day, driving its market value to $14 billion. Its shares have moderated somewhat since.

Germany's Bayer is divesting several of its businesses to lower debt after spending $63 billion last year to acquire Monsanto. It also faces thousands of lawsuits claiming that the Roundup weed killer made by its new subsidiary causes cancer. Bayer says studies have established that Roundup's active ingredient is safe.

The companies expect the deal to close by the middle of next year, subject to approval by antitrust authorities.