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Ag Briefs: COVID exposure reported at youth livestock event

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs

MAUSTON, WI

COVID exposure reported at youth livestock event

The Juneau County health officials reported an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Juneau County Youth Livestock Expo in Mauston.

A release from the county's Department of Public Health advised those attending the event between July 28-30 Officials from the department said visitors to the event between July 28 and July 30 at Veterans Memorial Park in Mauston that they are at risk of possible exposure to the virus as part of the outbreak.

An outbreak is defined by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services as “two or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the same facility or associated with a single event, with onset within two maximum COVID-19 incubation periods of each other (28 days).”

Last week the county reported 144 cases of COVID-19, part of a sharp increase of over 100 new cases in the past two months. Three people are currently hospitalized and two people have died, according to the health department.

They advised anyone experiencing any symptoms (headache, fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, fever, digestive discomfort), contact their healthcare provider.

MADISON, WI

Nominations for Wisconsin Farm to School Advisory Council open until Aug. 30

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is seeking nominations to fill three seats on the Wisconsin Farm to School Advisory Council. The nomination window closes Aug. 30.

The council guides the state's Farm to School program, which connects schools to local farms to promote children's healthy eating. The seats are open in these categories: farmers, child health organizations and at-large representatives. Council members meet quarterly and have a three-year term.

Applicants should submit their nomination forms through the DATCP website by writing about why their nominee will be a valuable addition to the council. Two letters of support are also required in the application. Completed forms should be sent to coordinator April Yancer at april.yancer@wi.gov.

WEST ALLIS, WI

Supporting Hunger Task Force

For the next two weeks, the public can score tickets to the 2021 Wisconsin State Fair with a donation to support Hunger Task Force’s Wisconsin Dairy Recovery Program. This last chance to enjoy a favorite summer tradition is only available through Friday, Sept. 4.

The Wisconsin Dairy Recovery Program is a joint effort between Hunger Task Force, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and the WI DATCP to help provide relief to hungry families statewide by connecting milk and dairy products to emergency food organizations throughout the state. To date, the Dairy Recovery Program has purchased and distributed 1,154,790 gallons of milk, 378,371 pounds of cheese and 77,592 pounds of yogurt for hungry families throughout Wisconsin.

Tickets are available while supplies last. Donations can be made at http://www.hungertaskforce.org/dairywsf.

WASHINGTON D.C.

Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives program awards grants

The University of Wisconsin is among three recipients of the USDA's Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives grant program. The University of Wisconsin will split $18.4 million with the initiatives at the University of Tennessee and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

According to USDA AMS, the initiatives provide direct technical assistance and make sub-grants to dairy businesses to support dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing and distribution of dairy products. These initiatives specifically focus on: Diversifying dairy product markets to reduce risk and develop higher value uses for dairy products; Promoting business development that diversifies farmer income through processing and marketing innovation and Encouraging the use of regional milk production.

TALLAHASSEE, FL

Ag commissioner backs offshore fish farms

Florida’s agriculture commissioner this week endorsed a federal administration’s move to designate an aquaculture area in the Gulf of Mexico, a step some environmentalists consider a threat to a vital Florida resource: its waters.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on seafood, has chosen the Gulf as one of 10 established Aquaculture Opportunity Areas. Currently, there are no offshore fish farms in federal waters.

These areas, or AOAs, are meant for “sustainable commercial aquaculture,” according to NOAA’s website, and will be the beginning stages of a public process to outline specific areas, according to the Naples Daily News.

Environmentalists worry that offshore aquaculture in Southwest Florida could exacerbate harmful algal blooms from excess nutrient pollution, among other ecosystem concerns.

YAKIMA, WA

Farms pay $325K to settle guest worker mistreatment claims

Two farms in Washington state have agreed to pay $325,000 to settle accusations that they mistreated foreign guest workers.

Green Acre Farms and Valley Fruit Orchards of Yakima County have reached an agreement to end years of litigation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Capital Press reported. The dispute was over alleged discrimination against Thai workers hired through the H-2A program.

The federal agency will seek to distribute the $325,000 to 105 former guest workers from Thailand and the farm operations must follow certain practices and policies regarding their workers.

North Lanarkshire, UK

Company makes masks from wasted milk

A United Kingdom company Discarded Spirits has partnered with Mi Terro, a company that extracts the casein protein molecules from the bacteria found in ‘bad’ milk. The firm then uses dynamic flow shear spinning to create sustainable fibres, which Discarded has use to create face masks.

Discarded Milk Masks are thought to be a first, and to help the on-trade during the pandemic, Discarded will be distributing 600 Milk Masks to bars across London for free, Associated Press reported.