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MARSHFIELD, WI 

IDEXX Distribution to close sites in Marshfield, Waukesha

IDEXX Distribution Inc. plans to lay off 38 employees in Marshfield and 13 in Waukesha and close its facilities in those cities, according to a company notice the state received Friday.

The layoffs affect employees at IDEXX facilities at 510 St. Joseph's Ave. in Marshfield and 360 Bluemound Road, Suite 100, in Waukesha, according to a notification to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

IDEXX Distribution Inc. is under the publicly traded parent company IDEXX Laboratories Inc., based in Maine. IDEXX Laboratories manufactures and distributes products for veterinary practices and products for livestock herds and poultry flocks, among other services and products.

The letter indicates the layoffs, which will be permanent, will begin May 1 and end on Jan. 2. The company said it will notify employees of their last day on the job.

The employees are not represented by a union and will have no bumping rights, which is a contract-written privilege for a more senior employee to replace a less senior employee, according to the company's notification letter.

IDEXX Laboratories acquired its Marshfield location from Marshfield Labs under Marshfield Clinic Health System in October 2019.

Laid-off employees can apply for open positions at IDEXX locations and will be offered relocation benefits if they accept a position at another location. IDEXX Distribution has a location in Eau Claire.

SUN PRAIRIE, WI

Compeer Financial increased patronage payments for 2020

Compeer Financial and its board of directors are pleased to announce the organization will be returning approximately $177 million in patronage payments to member-owners in 2020. Member-owners will receive the first payment of $52 million this month.  

Approximately 30,200 checks will be sent to farmers, rural homeowners and others with ag-related business in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The February payment reflects equities allocated to member-owners for business they conducted before Compeer Financial was formed in July 2017. The organization will issue a second patronage payment totaling $125 million later this year for business member-owners had with Compeer Financial in 2019.

The $177 million being paid out in 2020 represents approximately 50 percent of Compeer Financial’s 2019 adjusted earnings. This is $26 million more in regular patronage than was paid out in 2019 – the board of directors voted to increase the payments due to the organization’s strong financial performance. 

MORRISONVILLE, IL

Illinois man buried in corn, dies inside farm's grain bin

A central Illinois man has died after becoming buried in corn while working inside a farm's grain bin.

David L. Lowis, 61, was pronounced dead at the scene Monday morning at a farm in rural Morrisonville.

Christian County Coroner Amy Calvert Winans said that first responders had to cut a hole in the grain bin to get to Lowis, but the Taylorville man died after being submerged in the corn.

An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday on Lowis, WCIA-TV reported. 

MADISON, WI

WFU offers scholarships to ‘Making More From Milk’ course in Madison

Wisconsin Farmers’ Union is offering two $500 scholarships for attendees to the two-day Making More From Milk course set for March 24-25 in Madison. The course, organized by Global Cow and Global Dairy Outreach, offers dairy producers an opportunity to explore various diversification options and a chance to think about the future of their businesses and their families. 

Making More From Milk encourages interaction and creates a supportive environment that often continues after the course concludes. This includes hearing from various producers who have a found unique ways to add value to their dairy. Panel discussions with various consultants and resources also offer a chance to meet with professionals who can help move course attendees’ dreams into reality. 

On the first day, the course offers two “behind-the-scenes” visits: a retail specialty cheese store and a restaurant that specializes in local foods.  “We want the farmers to be able to see their potential products through the eyes of those who work directly with the consumer,” notes Karen Nielsen of Global Dairy Outreach. 

The second day takes participants off-site, traveling to three locations where farmers have successfully found ways to add value to dairy and “make more from their milk.”  They include an ice cream parlor next to a family farm; a farm with its own fluid milk and ice-cream processing and agritourism; and a farm that specializes in farm tours. The day concludes by looking at next steps and business planning.

“In these tough economic times for dairy farmers, it’s important for them to be able to explore value-added options,” said WFU President Darin Von Ruden. “We’re pleased to support this in-depth course and help farmers consider alternate paths for their farm’s future.”

The WFU scholarship, due by Saturday, Feb. 15, can be found at www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com. Complete course details and additional scholarship details are available at http://globalcow.com/making-more-from-milk/. An optional add-on includes a full day of hands-on cheese making on March 26.

SUFFIELD, CT

Woman faces animal cruelty charges after farm animals seized

A woman has been charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty after authorities seized nearly 200 neglected animals from Connecticut farms. 

Suffield police said Monday that 35-year-old Rachel Kornstein, of Manchester, Connecticut turned herself in for arrest over the weekend. 

She faces six counts of cruelty to animals. Kornstein posted $20,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Enfield on Feb. 18.

A law firm that had represented Kornstein in a recent civil case didn't respond to a message seeking comment. 

Local and state officials say they began investigating Kornstein after receiving complaints that farm animals under her care were being neglected. 

They found cows, dogs and poultry at three area farms that were severely emaciated and sick. 

Authorities said the animals had been deprived of food, water and medical attention for untreated wounds and infections. They also found evidence of several dead chickens. 

In January, Suffield police and the state Department of Agriculture seized a total of 18 cattle, 137 chickens, 33 ducks and six dogs from farms leased by Kornstein. 

Most are now being cared for at a state-run animal rehabilitation center. The state is also seeking permanent custody of the animals.

BOZEMAN, MT

Livestock disease found in elk in Montana's Ruby Mountains 

State officials say the livestock disease brucellosis has been found in elk in southwestern Montana's Ruby Mountains, the latest evidence that the disease continues to slowly spread among wildlife in the Yellowstone region.

Two elk tested positive for exposure to the disease during recent sampling by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski says it's the first time brucellosis has been found in the mountain range east of Dillon. The two infected animals were among 100 elk that were tested.

The bacterial disease can infect cattle, bison and elk. It causes female animals to prematurely abort their young and can spread through infected birth tissues and fluids.

It's been essentially eradicated in U.S. livestock herds but persists in wildlife populations in and around Yellowstone National Park.

The elk that tested positive were just outside the boundaries of a designated area where livestock producers must test their cattle for the disease.

Thousands of Yellowstone bison have been captured and sent to slaughter or killed by hunters in recent decades under a controversial program that aims to control the spread of the disease. Such measures would be less feasible for elk, which are more numerous and inhabit a much larger range than bison.

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