Ag briefs: Pesticide applicator exam online

Wisconsin State Farmer


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 became 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.


Compeer now accepting client applications for PPP

Compeer Financial is accepting applications for the new Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The CARES Act is a $2 trillion emergency spending package to assist Americans during the COVID-19 outbreak. The act includes a new SBA forgivable loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP, to assist small businesses in meeting payroll and other critical expense needs. 

Applications are submitted online. For more information visit


Smithfield Foods to donate 10M lbs. food

Smithfield Foods will donate over 10 million pounds of product to food banks nationwide as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the company announced in a news release Monday.

The meatpacking company announced it would close its Sioux Falls facility until further notice on Sunday, after a COVID-19 outbreak of more than 300 cases spread among its workers. The closure will allow time for the company to sanitize the facility and for employees to recover from any suspected illness.

The meatpacking company's donation is paired with more than $3 million in donations to Feeding America and the nonprofit's network of food banks, which was announced at the end of March. Smithfield estimates the meat donation at $30 million.


Deere begins production of protective face shields

John Deere, in collaboration with the UAW, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, announced that it is producing protective face shields at John Deere Seeding Group in Moline, Illinois.

According to the company, Deere employees will initially produce 25,000 face shields to meet the immediate needs of health-care workers in several of its U.S. manufacturing communities.

Materials and supplies are on order to produce an additional 200,000 face shields. The company is using an open-source design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the project and leveraging expertise, skills, and innovation of its employee base.


Prairie Farms milk caps support food banks during COVID-19

As America hunkers down during the global COVID-19 pandemic, food banks are struggling to meet increased demands. As an essential services business, Prairie Farms employees and dairy farmers are grateful to be in a position to help food banks during this time of need. 

The Prairie Farms charitable giving program, Our Caps Your Cause, donates thousands of dollars each year to local non-profit organizations. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prairie Farms is going to give back even more by increasing support for nearly 50 food banks that are currently registered as an Our Caps Your Cause charity. Points for cap codes redeemed for food banks will quadruple through the end of May — this means each cap is worth 20 cents instead of 5 cents.

It’s easy for anyone to participate by simply purchasing gallons or half gallons of Prairie Farms milk, peeling the sticker on the cap to reveal the code, visiting the Our Caps Your Cause redemption webpage, choosing a food bank and entering the cap code. Once the 1,000 cap goal is met, the food bank will receive a check for $200.

Because of COVID-19, families are navigating a new “stay at home” reality. To help offset this disruption to everyday lives, Prairie Farms has launched a webpage that offers a variety of resources including recipes, Chef Rob “how to” cooking tips, coupons, and a video series featuring Prairie Farms dairy farm families. 


State reports first-year hemp production totals

Illinois farmers produced 2.3 million pounds (1 million kilograms) of industrial hemp in the first year of legal cultivation in decades, state officials said. 

The Illinois Department of Agriculture began issuing hemp-production permits last spring after production was legalized. Of 651 licenses granted, 514 planted at least one acre. Nearly three-quarters of the acreage planted was harvested. 

Hemp is related to marijuana and even though the psychoactive chemical THC is much lower than it is in marijuana, hemp was illegal from the 1940s until Illinois legalized it in 2018. 

"The department has been diligently working to open markets for growers to sell their hemp," Agriculture director Jerry Costello said. "We recently developed a policy allowing licensed hemp growers to sell product to licensed cannabis cultivators for use in medical and adult-use cannabis products."

Harvest numbers included biomass, flower, seed and stalk. There were 1.6 million pounds (725,709 kilograms) of biomass and 595,000 pounds (270,000 kilograms) of flower harvested. Those are the hemp products typically used for CBD oil, stalks for inudstrial use and seed to be planted or used for hemp seed oil.


Maine institutions to get more food from local producers

Maine is home to a new law designed to compel state institutions to procure more of their food from local producers.

The law directs the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to create a food procurement policy with a goal that 20% of food and food products procured by state institutions be from Maine, the Maine House Democratic Office said. The law, proposed by Democratic Rep. Craig Hickman of Winthrop, states that the goal must be accomplished by 2025.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed the proposal into law in late March. It goes into effect on June 16.

Hickman said the law sends a message that farmers and food producers are essential to the state, and "we must continue to support them as citizens of the state both individually and through our state-funded institutions."


10 central Nebraska beef plant workers diagnosed with virus

Ten workers at a central Nebraska beef processing plant have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, public health officials announced this weekend.

The South Heartland District Health Department reported the cases at Western Reserve Beef in Hastings.

The department "is working closely with Western Reserve management to complete the contact investigations, provide recommendations for employee safety, and to provide additional testing for their workforce."

Hastings is just south of Grand Island, a coronavirus hot spot in Nebraska.

On Monday, Lincoln Premium Poultry announced its first COVID-19 case at its Fremont chicken plant. The plant supplies Costco with millions of rotisserie chickens and employs 1,100 people.


New York's ethanol producer helps provide American-made sanitizer

New York's first and largest operational ethanol facility, has adapted operations to supply distillers, manufacturing, technology, and personal care corporations across the Northeast and Canada with ethanol to produce 80% antiseptic alcohol sanitizer amidst the COVID pandemic. 

The plant is producing over 100,000 gallons a day of tech-grade ethanol for businesses that halted operations to meet the urgent sanitizer needs of hospitals and at-risk communities.  WNY Energy generates over 60-million gallons of biofuel annually, using 20-million bushels of corn.  The $90-million facility was the first biofuel company in the northeastern U.S.