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Ag briefs: $31 million ag export facility planned for Milwaukee

Wisconsin State Farmer

MILWAUKEE, WI

$31M ag products export facility planned 

Boosted by a federal grant, the Port of Milwaukee is establishing a $31 million agricultural products export facility.

In coordination with The DeLong Company, it will handle dried distillers grain, an animal feed supplement, and other products aimed at international markets, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Construction of the new facility, to be built on the west side of Jones Island, is expected to begin in about a year. A $15.9 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant is covering part of the costs.

DeLong ships grain overseas.

“This investment adds a new dimension to the Port of Milwaukee’s role as a connector of Wisconsin’s businesses and farmers to world markets,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement.

FREDERICKSBURG, VA

Virginia farmer holds goat thief at gunpoint

A Virginia man held a suspect who was trying to steal goats from his farm at gunpoint until authorities could arrive to make an arrest, authorities said.

Stafford County deputies responded to a call on the night of Feb. 21, from the property owner, who said he was holding a thief in the middle of a field on his land, Stafford County Sheriff's spokeswoman Amanda Vicinanzo said. The farmer told deputies his wife had gone outside to check on their goats and discovered they'd been let out of their pen.

The farmer tracked the suspect to the field, where he found the man apparently intoxicated and slurring his words, the department said. Three goats were tied up next to the suspect's truck. A deputy later determined through a breathalyzer test that the man was pretending to be intoxicated, Vicinanzo said.

The farmer said he didn't recognize the suspect at first because his face was hidden under a hood, but later realized he was someone who had previously bought goats from him, Vicinanzo said. The man was identified as Cole Schrock, 19, of Clear Brook.

Schrock was charged with two counts of larceny of animals, identity theft to avoid arrest and unlawful entry with the intent to commit larceny.

MADISON, WI

CAFO siting bill among the dead

With the Wisconsin Legislature hurtling toward the end of its two-year session, several bills are still in limbo, including a $250 million income tax cut and a tax cut for farmers. Some bills including a bill connected to farm citing of CAFOs failed to make the cut.

Tax cuts for farmers and other self-employed people totaling $36 million a year are currently pending in the Senate, along with other measures designed to help the state's struggling dairy industry, according to the Associated Press. Sen. Scott Fitzgerald said something helping farmers will pass, but he hasn't said what.

According to the Associated Press report, Republicans wanted to change the process for approving and regulating large factory farm siting and expansion. GOP lawmakers aimed to create a new panel, consisting of agriculture groups, that would have to give its stamp of approval before the state would proceed.

The bill, however, made public in the final days of the session, couldn't overcome questions about how much say local communities would have in the process. It never got a vote in the Legislature, the report said.

The Senate is expected to return for one last day in late March.

EAST LANSING, MI

GreenStone to return $100 million in patronage to members

The GreenStone Farm Credit Services’ board of directors approved $100 million in patronage to be paid to its member-owners on March 11, 2020. This record-level of patronage, nearly 50% of GreenStone’s net profits, brings total patronage payments to $500 million in the 15 years of the program. More than 25,000 members of the cooperative will receive a check.

In addition to the patronage payment to members, GreenStone will also be paying appreciation forward through GreenStone’s Member Grown Outreach program, with a total of $20,000 in donations to strengthen partnerships with local organizations and charities. Money will be directed to groups based on choices made by members voting at their branch office.

In support of its members, the cooperative continues to build and grow for the future. GreenStone leadership continues to diversify the company portfolio by extending involvement into country living and rural homeowner products and services.

GreenStone members are invited to visit their local branch on March 11 to participate in the Patronage Day celebration.

Perryton, TX

Reward climbs to $11,000 in missing cattle case

Information about the theft of 262 head of cattle off a Lipscomb County ranch just got a lot more valuable.

Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger Ben Eggleston said rancher Bob Adcock has added $10,000 of his own money to the $1,000 reward offered by Operation Cow Thief. The reward will be paid to an individual who provides information leading to the arrest or indictment of the person or persons responsible for the crime. Eggleston said all information is kept confidential, and tips may be provided anonymously by calling 888-830-2333.

On Feb. 18, Adcock reported the steers and heifers missing from the Bill Merydith Ranch located at 14135 County Road U in Perryton. He said most of the cattle were black, but some were red and other mixed colors. They weighed between 500 and 550 pounds each. All are branded with a Lazy 11 on their left shoulder.

KAMPALA, Uganda

Locust outbreak now spreads to Congo

The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization says a small group of desert locusts has entered Congo, marking the first time the voracious insects have been seen in the Central African country since 1944. 

The agency says the mature locusts, carried in part by the wind, arrived on the western shore of Lake Albert on Friday near the town of Bunia, the Associated Press reported.

The worst locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years also recently reached South Sudan, a country where roughly half the population already faces hunger after years of civil war. 

Kenya, Somalia and Uganda also have been battling the locust swarms, which can reach the size of major cities.

Soldiers have been battling swarms using hand-held spray pumps, while experts have said aerial spraying is the only effective control.

TOPEKA, KS

Lawmakers contemplate raw milk ban

Kansas legislators are considering blocking the sale of raw milk or requiring farmers to include warning labels on packaging after the state abandoned a law prohibiting farmers from advertising raw milk outside their farm.

The state stopped enforcing the ban after Shepherd's Gate Dairy operators Mark and Coraleen Bunner filed a lawsuit against the state in October, The Wichita Eagle reported.

The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee endorsed a bill that would allow the on-farm sale of raw, unpasteurized milk, so long as each container sold labels it as such. It goes next to the Senate for debate, possibly this week.