Ag Briefs: Fire damages historic dairy cooperative

Wisconsin State Farmer
Midwest briefs


Fire damages historic dairy cooperative

Crews from eight fire departments were called in to battle a blaze at a dairy cooperative that is one of Burnett County's largest employers and is a popular stop for tourists in western Wisconsin. 

Sheriff's officials said the fire at Burnett Dairy Cooperative was reported about 10:30 p.m. Monday, July 20. Employees working in the cooperative located near Grantsburg, were able to make it out safely. Officials say it appears the fire was the result of a mechanical malfunction, officials said. 

The co-op is over 120-year-old; the portion of the building most damaged by the fire was the original, oldest section of the facility.

“My great uncle was a butter maker at the creamery across the street,” Dan Bengtson, who grew up in Grantsburg, told CBSN Minnesota. “It’s kind of a special place for our family.” She stopped by to watch the fire crews, knowing the co-op was a special place for local families and communities.

The fire was still burning, but under control by Tuesday morning. No injuries were reported. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation temporarily closed Highway 70 near Grantsburg. 

Firefighters from Grantsburg, Siren, Webster, Frederic, Cushing, St. Croix Hertel, Pine City and Rush City all helped in the battle to save the cooperative. 


WI teen shines at Eastern Regional Jr Angus Show

Samuel Henderson of East Troy, Wisconsin claimed the grand champion bred-and-owned bull honors during the 2020 Eastern Regional Junior Angus Show, June 26-28 in Lebanon, Tenn. Junior Angus exhibitors led 448 entries at the show.

Henderson won the honor with Hill Valley Reckoning 931, a May 2019 son of Young Dale Believe 46B.

Kolton Grim, Thomasville, Pa., led the reserve grand champion bred-and-owned bull. Beaver Creek Prestige 975 is a March 2019 son of Colburn Primo 5153.


Forage Superbowl entries sought

The World Forage Analysis Superbowl is now accepting entries for its 37th annual competition, where more than $26,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the best samples.

Samples for the Standard Corn Silage and Brown Midrib Corn Silage must be submitted by July 10 with the remaining samples due August 31. Top forage producers from across the country will be recognized virtually on October 2.

The contest evaluates lab and visual components in eight forage categories and awards $1,500 to the top individual in each division, with additional cash prizes awarded to second through fifth place.

Awards are also presented to four additional outstanding forage samples. Entry forms are available by calling 920-336-4521 or visiting


Thousands of acres of crops destroyed by hail storm

Agricultural experts have been tallying the crop damage caused by an early July storm that packed 50 mph winds and baseball-sized hail in parts of Minnesota. 

The storm was a blow for farmers from Kandiyohi County to Nicollet County at a time when commodity prices are already down. 

The hail storm was up to 60 miles long and six miles wide and caused extensive damage, impacting thousands of acres of corn, soy beans, kidney beans, sugar beets, peas, sweet corn, and alfalfa," farmer and crop consultant Curt Burns told WCCO-TV.

While soybeans may re-grow, they won't come close to the yield for which they were on pace, said Seth Naeve, a soybean agronomist for U of M Extension. 


FFA to distribute 400 boxes of fresh produce

The Portage FFA officer team will be distributing more than 400 free boxes of fresh produce supplied by a Friesland-based agribusiness, an effort to help community members feed their families.

FFA Vice President Calli Tennyson, a soon-to-be Portage High School senior, said the officers wanted to figure out a way to help the community as much as possible, given the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on the economy.

At 17 pounds each, Alsum is providing 420 boxes filled with Wisconsin russet potatoes, onions, apples and pears, valued at $5,440 total, according to spokeswoman Christine Lindner. Portage Daily Register

Lindner said Alsum’s project with Portage FFA is part of a larger program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program, through which the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service pays distributors to donate food to nonprofit organizations, food banks and other groups serving the public.


325.000 hotdogs donated to food banks

In recognition of National Hot Dog Day on July 22, 2020, members of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI or the Meat Institute) are working with Feeding America to donate more than 325,000 hot dogs to food banks across the nation for people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Traditionally, National Hot Dog Day activities celebrate the cultural, social and nutritional value of America’s summer favorite, the hot dog. For more than 40 years, the North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) has celebrated National Hot Dog Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, serving up hot dogs to lawmakers and their staff.

This year the economic uncertainty due to COVID-19 has changed this annual celebration into an opportunity for the meat and poultry industry to help millions of Americans turning to food banks, many for the first time, to feed their families.


Checkoff support helps Taco Bell launch menu items

Thanks to dairy checkoff support, Taco Bell recently unveiled the Grilled Cheese Burrito, its cheesiest new offering of the year, and a Pineapple Whip Freeze beverage that contains real dairy.

Mike Ciresi, a Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) senior dairy scientist who works at Taco Bell’s headquarters in Irvine, Calif., co-managed both projects. He said the Grilled Cheese Burrito, which was unveiled on July 2, resulted from a brainstorming session at the company’s office, according to DMI officials.

The burrito features a blend of mozzarella, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses in addition to sour cream, beef, rice, crunchy red strips and chipotle sauce. A layer of cheese is then grilled around the tortilla.


Feral pig tests positive for pseudorabies

For the first time since testing began in 2007, a feral pig tested positive for pseudorabies, a contagious disease for livestock but not for humans.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture said the adult female pig was tested June 8 as part of an ongoing surveillance program from the USDA Wildlife Services. Pseudorabies is not related to rabies, though the symptoms may be similar, officials said in a release.

The pig is “the only natural host” for pseudorabies, which causes neurologic, respiratory and reproductive disorders. Sometimes livestock species get infected. And authorities said the commercial hog order has been free of pseudorabies since 2004.

“There is no indication that there has been any exposure of domestic livestock in Oregon to the Pseudorabies virus, and this detection does not have any impact on Oregon’s recognition as being a PRV free state,” said ODA District Veterinarian Ryan Scholz.


Checkoff program to market hemp on the horizon

The National Industrial Hemp Council (NIHC) and The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) announced they’ve entered into an agreement to work together to explore the creation of a marketing checkoff program to promote hemp.

Currently, USDA Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) oversees 23 checkoff programs for various commodities ranging from cotton to pork to Christmas trees.

The NIHC and HIA expect to form a working group with representatives from across the industry that would discuss the details of how a hemp checkoff would be structured and operate.


2020 Harvest Fair Cancelled

For the last 26 years, Harvest Fair has celebrated everything that is wonderful about the fall season in Wisconsin. The annual three-day event that featured scarecrow making, pumpkin bowling and fall-themed food, drinks, shopping and more was originally scheduled for September 25-27.

As we did with the Wisconsin State Fair, all facets of Harvest Fair were analyzed in hopes of hosting this event. Unfortunately, it has been determined that there is no way to safely hold an event of this size and magnitude while we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the continued recommendations advising against mass gatherings, for the safety of patrons, staff, vendors, entertainers, sponsors, suppliers and the broader community, Harvest Fair is canceled for 2020.