Ag briefs: BelGioioso named U.S. dairy industry's Exporter of the Year

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer


BelGioioso named U.S. dairy industry's Exporter of the Year

BelGioioso Cheese of Wisconsin has been named the U.S. dairy industry's Exporter of the Year. President Errico Auricchio accepted the award at the Oct. 15 US Dairy Expor Council's Board of Directors and Annual Membership Meeting in Chicago.

BelGioioso Cheese Inc. employs more than 700 workers who make more than 30 varieties of specialty cheeses, not just for the U.S. but globally. The company exports its cheese to 45 countries. Exports now comprise about 6% of BelGioioso’s sales. 

The award is presented annually by Dairy Foods magazine and sponsored by the U.S. Dairy Export Council in honor of Tom Camerlo, a former USDEC chairman.


Co-op to impose penalty to curb production

Agri-Mark cooperative put dairy producers on notice that those exceeding base production levels will be penalized $5 per cwt.

The new supply management system is expected to go in effect in January 2020 and will impact producers generating over 2 million pounds annually.

According to the letter sent out to the co-op’s 170 farms in Vermont, the base production level is determined by a farm’s highest level of milk sold over the past three years.

Co-op officials say the system is being put in place to counter overproduction and to stem the firm’s financial losses from excess milk and downturn in world trade.


Mo. farmer is 5th to get prison term for organic farming fraud

A Missouri farmer who played a role in the largest organic grain fraud scheme in U.S. history has been sentenced to nearly two years in federal prison.

John Burton became the 5th farmer to receive prison time in the "Field of Schemes" case on Monday, when he was sentenced by a federal judge in Cedar Rapids to 22 months behind bars.

Prosecutors said that Burton grew grain that he knew was not organic and sold it to Missouri farmer Randy Constant, knowing that Constant was going to market and sell it as organic.

Burton also worked for Constant, often spraying his fields with chemicals and fertilizers that are not allowed to be used on organic fields.

Constant is considered the mastermind of the $142 million fraud scheme, which tainted countless products that were marketed as organic. He died by suicide in August, weeks before he was to report to prison to begin serving a 10-year term.

Three Nebraska farmers have also received prison sentences in the case.


VT to remember farmer who died fighting progress

The Vermont Agency of Transportation is asking the public for ideas for a permanent memorial to an Ascutney farmer who took his life after his farm was seized to make way for the construction of Interstate 91.

A maple tree that has stood on what was once Romaine Tenney's farm is dying and will be removed. Officials say the tree is a reminder of the impact the construction of the interstate system had on Vermont.

Tenney refused to sell his farm as the interstate was being built. It was taken through eminent domain. After his farm was seized in 1964, he barricaded himself inside his farmhouse and burned it, and his barns, to the ground with him inside.


Man grows 2 record setting pumpkins

A Missouri man has busted the state records for the heaviest and second-heaviest pumpkins. KMBC-TV reports that the 1,798-pound and 1,677-pound giants that Richard Bottorf entered into the Republic Pumpkin Daze weigh more combined than a compact car.

Bottorf has a history of breaking records. Back in 2017, he grew a 1,563-pound pumpkin that that beat the Missouri state record by more than 300 pounds.

Guinness World Records says the largest-ever pumpkin weighed 2,624 pounds. It was grown in Belgium in 2016.


Recall puts cheesemaker out of business

An award-winning Vermont cheesemaker that sold its raw milk cheeses around the country has stopped manufacturing and selling cheese after a listeria outbreak and recall.

Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlett announced Thursday that its current funds do not allow it to continue manufacturing and selling cheese.

"We simply do not have the cash flow and resources to recover from the recall and sustain our business to move forward," it said on social media.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted an announcement Sept. 30 of a voluntary recall of the farm's Dorset Cheese from Whole Foods over concerns about potential listeria contamination.

The cheese was sold at Whole Foods Market stores in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, according to the FDA notice.


Researchers: It's possible to extend the strawberry season

University of New Hampshire researchers have shown it's possible to grow strawberries in the state from early summer through late fall.

The New Hampshire Agriculture Experiment Station researchers said Monday that the key is growing specific varieties of fruit in specific conditions.

Traditionally, New Hampshire's season for strawberries is only four to six weeks, from mid-June until early July. The research shows that planting different types of strawberries and growing them under low tunnels increase the length of the season and strawberry yield.

Most growers plant June-bearing strawberries, which are strongly affected by day-length and only initiate flower buds under short-day conditions, resulting in a brief period of fruit production.

Researchers evaluated eight varieties of day-neutral strawberries, which produced fruit from early July into November.