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MADISON, WI

Milk production, cow numbers down

Milk production in Wisconsin during December 2019 totaled 2.55 billion pounds, down 1 percent from the previous December, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report.

The average number of milk cows during December, at 1.26 million head, was down 2,000 from month and down 8,000 from last year, according to the USDA National Agriculture Statistics report. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,015 pounds, down 10 pounds from last December.

Milk production in the 24 major States during December totaled 17.4 billion pounds, up 0.9 percent from December 2018. November revised production at 16.7 billion pounds, was up 0.9 percent from November 2018. The November revision represented an increase of 4 million pounds or less than 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

SIOUX CITY, IA

Pleas entered in grain scheme

Two former officers at a northwest Iowa agriculture cooperative have pleaded not guilty to federal fraud charges.

The Sioux City Journal reported that Kenneth Ehrp and Calvin Diehl entered the pleas last week in U.S. District Court in Sioux City. The charges: conspiracy to defraud the United States, and making false statements.

Prosecutors said the two directed Farmers Cooperative Society workers in Sioux Center from 2011 to 2017 to layer higher-value soybeans over oats in grain bins and in trucks and then concealed the scheme from customers and USDA inspectors. The scheme led to the overvaluing of the co-ops grain inventory in order to influence a lender's action on a loan, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Grain Standards Act bars blending different grains unless the blend is designated as "mixed grain" or an exemption is granted by federal regulators.

LAS CRUCES, N.M.

New Mexico leads US in pecan production

The numbers are in and U.S. agricultural officials say New Mexico marked a record year of pecan production in 2019 to lead the nation. 

The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Thursday that production in the Southwest state topped out at more than 96 million pounds, up 6% from the previous year, according to the Associated Press. 

Georgia followed with 69 million pounds, but many trees there are still recovering from the effects of last year's Hurricane Michael. Hot, dry weather from late August through October also had negative effects on Georgia's yield. 

Overall, the value of the nation's pecan crop totaled $469 million, up 14% from the previous season. Agricultural officials said yield nationwide also was up, with pecan producing states averaging nearly 670 pounds per acre.

RICHMOND, VA

Bill defining milk advances in legislature

Virginia is the latest state to advance legislation restricting the use of the word milk for marketing purposes.

Del. Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, introduced House Bill 119, which defines milk as the lacteal secretion "obtained by the complete milking of a healthy hooved animal." The bill prohibits plant-based milk alternative products from marketing their products as milk.

Knight, a pig farmer, said agriculture is the largest private industry in Virginia, and the state government has to protect it, said the Associated Press.

Virginia produced about 1.6 billion pounds of dairy milk in 2018, and the number of permits issued to dairy farmers is on the decline, according to the Virginia Farm Bureau. 

DES MOINES, IA

Over 100 piglets die in semi-trailer crash

More than 100 piglets died on Jan. 16 when a semi-trailer carrying about 1,700 of the animals overturned on a freeway just north of Des Moines.

Tom Colvin, chief executive officer of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, said Friday about 100 piglets were found dead at the crash site. Crews had to euthanize another 17 that were injured, according to the Des Moines Register.

The crash happened Thursday afternoon when a livestock trailer overturned on a ramp to Interstate 35. The surviving animals were loaded onto other trucks and driven to a livestock operation.

NEW YORK

Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Launches 6 For 6-Pack Program to support organic Farming

Less than one percent of America's farmland is organic and American farmers hoping to transition their fields to organic face monumental challenges. Today, Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold is launching their :60 Super Bowl LIV spot featuring 6 For 6-Pack, a new program that allows consumers to join the brand in helping farmers transition six square feet of farmland into organic with each purchase of a 6-pack of Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold.

Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold, the first national beer brand to be USDA-certified organic, is on a mission to help U.S. farmers who have an interest in converting to organic farming by assisting them through the transition process, which can be time consuming and challenging without support. A portion of sales from each Pure Gold 6-pack will go directly to farmers looking to transition to organic, allowing consumers to help drive change.

"There's an imbalance between consumer preference for organic products and the amount of organic farmland we currently have in the U.S. to support this need," said Azania Andrews, Vice President of Marketing, Michelob ULTRA. "The future of organic beer relies on more farmers converting to organic; we feel a responsibility to help provide choice and support to those who want to transition, so that together we can help farmers sustain and grow their business and provide consumers the products they want."

6 For 6-Pack is an expansion of an existing program launched in 2019 called Contract for Change. Contract for Change offers 3-6-year transitional barley contracts with premiums for transitional and organic barley production. Anheuser-Busch's expert agronomists are working in partnership with the CCOF Foundation, the leading organization in organic certification and training, to provide technical assistance to farmers as they navigate the steps required to grow certified organic crops.

As demand for organic barley increases, Contract for Change aims to inspire the entire organic industry to assist farmers during the transition process by paying a premium for transitional and organic products and providing the needed technical training for farmers to succeed. The 6 For 6-Pack program will provide the additional funds needed to expand Contract for Change and help increase the one percent of organic farmland.

GALT, CA

Body found in manure pile at dairy farm

A man's body was found in a pile of manure at a dairy farm in central California and authorities are investigating the discovery as a suspicious death, authorities said.

A worker at the farm in Galt found the body while working in the area where manure and waste get processed, said Sacramento County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Tess Deterding.

KOVR-TV reports that law enforcement officials have not classified the death as accidental or a homicide.

The man has been identified but his name is not being released until the coroner notifies his family. Owners of the dairy farm said he was not one of their employees.

MILAN, ITALY

Italy seizes 9.5 tons of smuggled Chinese pork

Italy's tax police seized and destroyed 9.5 tons of pork from China which was banned by the Health Ministry after African swine fever broke out in the Asian country, police in the northeastern city of Padoa said on Wednesday.

According to Reuters news service, the illegally-imported pig meat was hidden under a shipment of vegetables from China in a storage facility near Padoa managed by a Chinese citizen.

The load of pork was destroyed and the man was charged with smuggling, trade in harmful foodstuffs and spreading of animal diseases, police added.

China said on Wednesday, Jan. 22 it found African swine fever virus in 5% of slaughterhouse samples.

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