Ag Briefs: Mink farms cull mink in wake of outbreak

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs


Farmers lament decision to cull all Denmark's minks

Danish fur farmers say they've been dealt a major blow after the world's largest mink fur exporter decided to cull all 15 million minks in Denmark's farms, to minimize the risk of them re-transmitting the coronavirus to humans — a decision that has also raised eyebrows among health experts.

The government said Wednesday that a mutation in COVID-19 has been found in 12 people who got infected by minks in the northern part of the country, announced plans to cull all minks in the country and promised to compensate farmers. 

But Fur Europe, a Brussels-based umbrella organization representing national associations in 28 European countries, said there was no indication mink farming was an important factor in transmitting the virus. According to Associated Press, the group urged Denmark to release its research for scrutiny amongst international scientists.

Medical experts were also puzzled by the Danish claim of a mutated virus.

James Wood, head of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University, said the true significance of the reported mutations in Denmark "(has) not yet been evaluated by the international scientific community and (is) thus unclear."

In August, the Dutch government announced that it is bringing forward the mandatory end of mink farming in the country by three years amid a growing number of coronavirus infections at fur farms. The industry already was working toward a total ban on all Dutch mink farms by 2024. That has now been brought forward to the spring of 2021.

Federal Government, States Must Shut Down American Mink Farms, Say Animal Welfare Groups

Activist groups are calling on the USDA to develop an emergency plan to shutter U.S. mink farms on what is says is as a key strategy to stop the spread and mutation of the coronavirus. The groups are urging USDA to quickly adopt a plan modeled after government buy-outs of mink farms in the Netherlands and Spain, which also suffered mink-farm outbreaks. 

The groups are also calling for an immediate ban on breeding more mink and transporting them between farms or exporting their fur internationally. 


Deer hunters encouraged to donate deer to help needy

Since Wisconsin's Deer Donation Program first began in 2000, more than 92,000 deer have been donated, totaling more than 3.7 million pounds of venison distributed to food pantries across the state, according to the Wisconsin DNR.

Hunters are advised to plan for their donation by locating a participating processor and having their deer tested for CWD. Hunters should also call the participating processor before dropping off deer to make sure the processor is prepared to accept the deer.

They can also make a monetary donation to help cover venison processing costs when purchasing their license.


China would seek to renegotiate trade deal under Biden

Joe Biden’s US election victory will encourage China to try and renegotiate Donald Trump’s trade deal, viewed in Beijing as being “twisted” in Washington’s favour, according to advisers to the Chinese government, according to South China Morning Post.

The phase one trade deal  was hammered out after months of painful negotiations and 18 months of trade war tariffs piling up on both sides. It saw China commit to buying US$200 billion in additional US goods on top of 2017 levels, but stopped short of forcing major structural changes to China’s economic model.

Even so, advisers see the deal as being unrealistic for China to implement, and view Biden as a more “rational and multilaterally minded” leader than Trump – despite former US officials thinking there is virtually no chance of Biden giving China a “softer” deal.

Shi Yinhong, an adviser to China’s State Council, effectively the country’s cabinet, said Beijing would see it as in its interests to reduce the heavy import targets and reduce tariffs on exports to the United States.


FB’s YFA Conference kicks off Nov. 16

The 2020 WFBF Young Farmer and Agriculturist Conference will begin Monday, November 16 and run through Saturday, December 5. This year’s conference will be held virtually on Facebook.

The programming is free and available to members and non-members, no registration required, with content being targeted to farmers and agri-business professionals ages 18-35.

This year’s conference will include presentations from the Excellence in Ag Award finalists, the YFA Discussion Meet, workshops hosted by Farm Bureau members from across the country and a trivia night. 

All the programming will be available on Facebook and can be found by searching for “Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer and Agriculturist Virtual Conference”. Visit the event page today and mark ‘Going’ so you can stay up to date on all the details.

To learn more, visit


Ag groups file suit against EPA in dicamba registration

The American Soybean Association and the Plains Cotton Growers have filed a lawsuit against the EPA and its recent registration of over-the-top dicamba products.

According to Farm Journal, the suit claims that "some aspects of the registration decision are problematic for growers, who depend on reasonable, consistent access to dicamba for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton." 

ASA president Bill Gordon, a soybean grower from Worthington, Minn., said in a statement: “Label conditions must include protections to ensure safe, responsible use of products like dicamba, but they also cannot be so burdensome that they won’t work for the farmers who need them. As this re-registration stands, the buffer length and application cutoff date will preclude many growers from using dicamba effectively during weather conditions that cause planting delays and on significant swaths of land that they rely on for cost-effective production.”

On Oct. 27, the EPA announced a five-year approval of Xtendimax VaporGrip Xtra, Engenia and Tavium for over-the-top dicamba application. 


American's buying more butter

American dairy giant Land O’Lakes Inc. is selling record amounts of butter as consumers cook more at home, helping boost profits even as the pandemic upends global commodity markets, said a Bloomberg report.

The Minnesota-based cooperative expects butter sales to reach 275 million to 300 million pounds in 2020, an increase of more than 20% from a normal year, said Chief Executive Officer Beth Ford.

That’s more than offset a decline in food services as lockdowns from New York to Los Angeles slashed demand from restaurants, which usually account for 15% to 20% of the company’s business.


WI teen captures prize at angus show

HLC Proven Queen 912 won reserve grand champion female at the 2020 American Royal Junior Angus Show, Oct. 23 in Kansas City, Mo.

Koleton Lorentz, Woodville, Wis., owns the April 2019 daughter of Dameron P V F Raptor 702. She first claimed reserve junior champion.

Bob May, Mineral Point, Wis., evaluated the 172 entries, according to the American Angus Association.


UW Platteville plans a 2.4 MW solar project 

In an effort to increase use of renewable energy, University of Wisconsin-Platteville is laying the groundwork to install a 2.4-megawatt solar array on campus.

The institution hired Seattle energy company McKinstry to design the project, which will be located in Memorial Park, according to a press release.

Designs are expected to be finalized this month, and the project will be submitted to the UW System Board of Regents and Wisconsin Building Commission for review and approval.


19 year old cow caps outstanding career

Born in 2001, Patriot has produced over 400,000 lbs. of milk in her lifetime milking career, said Jake Ledoux, spokesman for Robbins Family Grain and North Harbor Dairy in Sackets Harbor, NY.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the annual average milk production per cow in the U.S. is 23,500 pounds. Over a six-year period, that would create 141,000 pounds of milk. Patriot retired from milking at age 13.

According to NNY360, Patriot gave birth to nine calves. The elderly cow was “respectfully buried” on the farm property.


CHS reports $422.4M net income in 2020 

CHS Inc., the nation's leading agribusiness cooperative, reported net income of $422.4 million for the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2020. This compares to fiscal year 2019 net income of $829.9 million.

Key financial drivers for fiscal year 2020 include: Consolidated revenues of $28.4 billion for fiscal year 2020 compared to $31.9 billion for fiscal year 2019; Strong supply chain performance in the propane business; Less advantageous market conditions in the refined fuels business, primarily driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in volume and price declines that significantly reduced earnings compared to the prior year; poor weather conditions negatively impacted the company's Ag segment's operations during the first half of fiscal year 2020, resulting in lower crop yields and poor grain quality following a late harvest and lower crop nutrient sales during fall 2019; and improved weather conditions during the 2020 spring planting season drove increased earnings across much of our Ag segment in the second half of fiscal year 2020.