Ag briefs: Equity Coop suspends sales at Marion

Wisconsin State Farmer


Marion suspends sales

Equity Cooperative Livestock has made the difficult decision to suspend the sales at the Marion market in response to the current COVID-19 situation. Equity Marion will suspend all activities and will not hold sales on Mondays or Saturdays. Additionally, no private treaty on Wednesdays. Equity sincerely appreciates the support received from our producers, buyers, truckers and employees.

“This decision is a further eff ect to reduce exposure to COVID-19 across our markets amid our country’s current health crisis,” stated Tod Fleming, Chief Operating Offi  cer. “Because of our importance in the food chain, Equity will continue to operate and host sales at our other markets. However, during this time of health crisis, only active buyers and employees are allowed in our facilities.”

Timm Gildernick, Marion’s Market Manager, will be working with producers to help find trucking and alternative markets livestock can go during this temporary shut down.  As this pandemic continues to affect the normalcy of our daily lives as well as our organizations, Equity continues to work together with others involved who are critical to the food supply chain.


Pork plant shuttered after virus outbreak

Tyson Foods said Monday that it has suspended operations at a large pork processing plant in southeastern Iowa where more than two dozen workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Associated Press.

Spokesman Gary Mickelson said the suspension went into effect on Monday at the plant in Columbus Junction. He said it will last for the duration of this week and be revisited at that point.

Mickelson said the plant’s 1,400 workers would continue to be paid this week despite the suspension.

He said the company was diverting livestock shipments that were scheduled to be delivered to Columbus Junction to other plants in the region, such as Waterloo and Perry.

The plant processes and packages fresh pork that is sent to retail and food service customers.

Tyson said that it has taken several steps to try to protect plant workers, including taking temperatures before their shifts and increasing cleaning and sanitizing of breakrooms, locker rooms and other areas.


Wisconsin granted federal disaster declaration due to COVID-19 pandemic

Gov. Tony Evers announced on April 4, that Wisconsin has been granted a major disaster declaration for the entire state of Wisconsin, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration provides access to Public Assistance programs for all 72 Wisconsin counties and the state’s federally recognized tribes.

Gov. Evers earlier in the week requested that the federal government provide the following programs to support the state’s response: Public Assistance, Direct Assistance, Hazard Mitigation (statewide), and certain Individual Assistance programs; Crisis Counseling, Community Disaster Loans and the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notified the state on April 4, that it is granting the request for Public Assistance to help provide reimbursement for emergency protective measures taken by state and local governments in their response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The declaration also authorizes direct Federal Assistance which means when the State and local governments lack the capability to perform or to contract for eligible emergency work and/or debris removal, the State may request that the work be accomplished by a federal agency. The governor’s additional requests for assistance remain under review.


Beef plant workers test positive for COVID-19

Ten workers at a central Nebraska beef plant have tested positive for the new coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise, public health officials announced Friday.

According to Associated Press, the cases were confirmed at the JBS beef plant in Grand Island. The plant will not be shut down, however, because the federal government considers food and agricultural production and processing facilities essential infrastructure.

Statewide, Nebraska had 279 confirmed cases as of Friday afternoon, and six have died. Nearly 4,500 have tested negative.

The news came as health experts who are advising Gov. Pete Ricketts warned that Nebraska is only in "the second inning" of its struggle against the outbreak, and more deaths are expected.


Court approves Dean Foods asset sale

A bankruptcy court has approved the asset sale of one of the U.S.'s biggest dairy companies, Dean Foods.

Dean Foods Co. got the go-ahead to sell $433 million worth of properties and interests to the Dairy Farmers of America. Dean filed for bankruptcy protection in November of last year. Another major milk producer, Borden Dairy Co., filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

The dairy industry has been struggling for decades as consumers increasingly shun milk for juice, soda and an array of non-dairy milk substitutes made from soy, almonds or oats. Since 1975, the amount of liquid milk consumed per capita in the U.S. has tumbled more than 40%.

In addition to the sale of several production facilities and distribution branches, Dallas-based Dean has also lined up buyers for several of its brands, including Uncle Matt's, Berkeley Farms and Meadow Gold Hawaii.


CHS Larsen Cooperative announces new agronomy location

CHS Larsen Cooperative announced its latest acquisition of the former Pinnacle Ag/ADM facility on Stockton Road just east of Stevens Point. In addition to dry fertilizer products, the cooperative plans on marketing liquid fertilizer, crop protection products and seed to growers in the area.  

“This facility fits well into our long-range growth plan to serve the area with our full line of agronomy products,” says David Neal, general manager, CHS Larsen. 

In addition to the agronomy staples of fertilizer, crop protection products and seed, the cooperative also features a full line of precision ag products and services as well as grower input financing. In past years, CHS has only been able to offer feed, grain and energy products in the area. The addition of the Stockton facility will tie all the pieces together, allowing CHS to offer its complete line of products and services to area growers.

“As a cooperative, we are always looking for ways to help our owners grow and provide better service to them,” says Neal. “In order to do this, we’ve decided we need to expand our service area and facilities as well. By adding the Stockton facility to our existing agronomy outlets, we will be able enhance our distribution options during the fast-paced planting season when secure supply and logistics are critical to all growers. The physical location of the plant along the I-39 and Highway 10 corridor gives us excellent, efficient logistical options to both the central and northeastern Wisconsin markets that we now serve.”

The CHS Stockton facility is well situated to earn local growers’ business by offering traditional and proprietary products that will enhance yield through personalized local service which every grower expects and deserves.  


Online exam available for temporary pesticide applicator certification

A new online exam is available for individuals to become temporarily certified until Oct. 31 as a commercial pesticide applicator. This video details how to sign-up for the exam:

Currently, the following categories are available: Field and Vegetable Crops (Cat 1.1), Structural Pest Control (Cat 7.1).

Additional categories will be available on the following dates: April 6: Forestry (Cat 2.0), and Right-Of-Way/Natural Areas (Cat 6.0), April 8: Turf and Landscape (Cat 3.0), and Aquatic and Mosquito (Cat 5.0), April 10: Aerial (Sub Category 9.9) – requires certification with a base category (for example, Field and Vegetable Crops, etc.)

More information about the pesticide certification extension and frequently asked questions are available at

As a reminder, DATCP has suspended in-person pesticide certification testing as of March 18, 2020. If certification expires Jan. 31 - Sept. 30, DATCP has extended your certification until Oct. 31. You can continue to operate as a certified applicator until Oct. 31.