Ag Briefs: Winnekins is Farm Broadcaster of the Year

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs


Winnekins of WRDN Radio named top Farm Broadcaster

Brian Winnekins who has been broadcasting over the airwaves for over 30 years has been named Farm Broadcaster of the Year by the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.

Winnekins, heard on WRDN Radio in Durand, Wis., received the honor during the NAFB Virtual Convention November 18th-20th.

“Back in 2003, I shared the stage with Orion Samuelson, my long-time mentor at NAFB, when I won the Horizon Award, and he was named Farm Broadcaster of the Year. To now be associated with past winners of this award like Orion and recognized by my peers is very humbling," he said in a news release.

He started his career in 1989 at WKTY in La Crosse and began his Farm Broadcasting career in 1998 while at WBOG in Tomah. After a stint at WCOW in Sparta from 2007-2011, he purchased WRDN and brought it back on air in 2011.


“Give-A-Ham” challenge kicks off

The National Pork Producers Countil and the Wisconsin Pork Association has kicked off the annual "Give-A-Ham Challenge", a social media campaign that encourages industry stakeholders, including the NPPC board of directors and state pork associations, to give a ham or other pork product to their local food shelf or other community organization.

With each social media post, individuals are encouraged to highlight their story, family farm, other giving efforts, etc. and then challenge another individual to do the same.

Each “Give-a-Ham” challenge will be posted on social media from November 23 through December 22. This challenge is a volunteer activity and participation is not required.


Scholarships available to NFU Women’s Conference

Wisconsin Farmers Union is offering scholarships for women interested in attending the National Farmers Union Women’s Conference, which will held virtually Jan. 17-18, 2021.

The conference is designed to address the unique barriers women face in agriculture. Subjects include business management, marketing, cooperative development, succession planning, food safety, and leadership. 

The scholarship application is available at and is due Dec. 1. Scholarships will help cover registration, which is $25 for Farmers Union members and $45 for non-members.

Wisconsin farmers, Patty Edelburg and Erin Link, will be among the featured speakers. Edelburg dairy farms near Amherst Junction and serves as Vice President of the NFU. Link raises rare San Clemente Island goats and is building up her EB Ranch in Ridgeland with direct marketing of goat milk soaps and pasture-raised meats.

See the full line-up and event agenda at


3 chicken plants agree to pay back wages

Three Mississippi chicken processing plants among those targeted in one of the largest workplace immigration raids in the U.S. in the past decade have agreed to pay back wages after federal officials found they failed to pay minimum wage and overtime to their workers.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced that three plants have paid $45,719 in back wages to 129 employees.

According to an Associated Press report, the plants targeted in the investigation were a Canton complex owned by Peco Foods of Tuscaloosa, Alabama; a Morton complex owned by Koch Foods of Park Ridge, Illinois; and Pearl River Foods of Carthage, a company headquartered in Gainesville, Georgia.

The Labor Department's Wage and House Division found the employers failed to issue final paychecks to multiple workers. Officials also found that Pearl River Foods deducted so much money for uniforms that employees were illegally paid less than minimum wage. Investigators also determined Koch failed to include production bonuses when calculating overtime, another legal violation.


China defends food import controls to curb virus

China's government defended anti-coronavirus controls that have disrupted imports of beef, poultry and fish from the U.S., New Zealand and other trading partners.

Customs officials who say the coronavirus has been found on frozen meat and on packaging have imposed temporary suspensions on suppliers. That prompted complaints by China's trading partners, according to an Associated Press report.

The "reasonable and justifiable" curbs are intended to protect public health, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

China, where the pandemic began in December, declared the disease under control in March. It is trying to prevent new outbreaks caused by the virus being imported by travelers or on food. 

In June, China temporarily suspended the import of chicken from U.S.-based Tyson Foods Inc. after the virus was found at one of its farms.

Other importers affected are from Argentina, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, the Netherlands and Russia. Other products include salmon and pork.


Calf. sees record harvest for walnuts

California walnuts are having a record harvest year. While it's still too early to give a total crop size, estimates point toward a record 780,000 tons, the largest crop by a fairly sizeable margin, said Mark Calder of Primavera Marketing Inc. in Linden, CA.

Walnuts are an alternate-bearing item and clearly this year is an ‘on-year’ for the nut, according to Fresh Plaza.

Despite the pandemic, Calder says demand for walnuts has been good.


Can’t find what you’re looking for? AskUSDA

The USDA announced the official launch of its AskUSDA program. In an effort to transform how the public interacts with the Department, the AskUSDA program has been established as the “one front door” for customers to access information and help from USDA.

AskUSDA gives customers the ability to resolve questions by creating a single destination for phone, chat and web inquiries in order to create a more streamlined experience for the public.

AskUSDA also hosts over five thousand knowledge articles that facilitate self-service customer service to address citizens’ most common issues and questions. 


20 farms fined for not protecting workers from COVID-19

Three Mid-Columbia farms are among those receiving the biggest fines in the state from the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries for serious violations of agriculture regulations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

More than 20 farms have been cited for inadequate COVID precautions, The Tri-City Herald reported.

King Fuji Ranch of Mattawa was fined $13,500 after L&I accused workers assigned to different living spaces of interacting with others and not social distancing. The ranch owner has 15 days to appeal.

Agriculture workers should be assigned to work and living groups of up to 15 people and are not supposed to mingle with workers in other groups, according to Washington state COVID-19 safety plans.

Evans Fruit Co. of Sunnyside, Cowiche and Tieton was fined $6,600 after inspections in all three locations found employees were not wearing face masks, taking temperatures or social distancing, according to L&I.

Agrilabor of Benton City was fined $5,400 after L&I said it had worker beds that were less than six feet apart.

While King Fuji Ranch has been issued the largest fine for agriculture coronavirus-related violations to date, an investigation involving workers who died is underway at Gebbers Farm Operations in Bridgeport, state officials said.


Pack of feral dogs is on the loose after killing 11 goats

Authorities in North Carolina say a pack of dogs is still on the loose after killing 11 goats in Cumberland County near Fayetteville. 

The Raleigh News & Observer reported that the three feral dogs are reported to be German Shepherd mixes with white fur.

Elaine Smith, Cumberland County's animal services director, said in a statement that the dogs "have not been aggressive toward people, and we have not been able to get within 50 feet of them."

Cumberland County Animal Services said it has received reports that an unidentified owner abandoned several dogs. 


Maple syrup, blueberry producers to get help from USDA

A maker of a wild blueberry beverage, the University of Maine's ecology school and the state's maple producers' organization are among the recipients of federal specialty crop funding in Maine.

The USDA is providing more than $500,000 to boost the specialty crop industry in the state. Another grant will go to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association to help improve competitiveness of specialty crops and increase farmer compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act, Maine's two U.S. senators said.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins and independent Sen. Angus King said the federal help "will strengthen Maine's agricultural sector by supporting the development of more resilient fruits and vegetables and boosting farmers' sales through increased marketing."