Ag Briefs: 18 calves die, firefighters injured in barn fire

Wisconsin State Farmer
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18 calves die, firefighters injured in barn fire

A town of Ixonia barn fire killed 18 calves Feb. 12, Ixonia Fire Department Chief Dave Schilling said.

Crews responded to the fire at N8433 Rock River Road at 4 p.m. and were on scene for 5½ hours. At the time the fire department was called to the scene, Schilling said the temperature hovered around zero, but dropped to about minus 10 degrees as the day went on, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"Barn fires are typically not that long of an ordeal," Schilling said. "It would have been brought under control fairly quickly if we didn't have to deal with subzero weather."

Schilling said the vehicles that had the biggest issues were the water tenders.

"They were hauling from the water source back to the fire, so we were dealing with frozen appliances," Schilling said. "It was so cold out that actual propane torches wouldn't stay lit in that kind of weather."

Schilling noted 18 to 19 calves were able to escape the fire.


Compeer returns $197M to member-owners

Compeer Financial announced that the organization will be returning approximately $197M in patronage payments to member-owners in 2021. Member-owners received the first payment of $52 million this month.  

The $197M represents approximately 45% of Compeer Financial’s 2020 adjusted earnings – and is an increase of $20M compared to the prior year. Compeer’s board of directors voted to increase the payments due to the organization’s strong financial performance and to reiterate the cooperative’s commitment to serving agriculture and rural America during the most challenging times.

Including the 2021 patronage distribution, Compeer Financial has disbursed $690M in patronage since the organization was formed in 2017. are based on the amount of products and services purchased by member-owners.


Lake Mills teen wins GROWMARK's WI essay contest winner

Sydney Burling of Lake Mills, has been named the Wisconsin state winner of the 2021 GROWMARK essay contest for FFA members. The theme of this year’s contest was “If you could invent a new technology to improve agriculture, what would it be?”

In her contest entry, Burling said: “An invention that I would like to invent to help improve agriculture is a pollen solution that doesn’t come from a bee, but is created in a lab. The pollen would be produced and spread a lot faster than the average huge bee could spread pollen.”

Burling is a student at Lake Mills High School and a member of the Lake Mills FFA chapter. Her FFA advisor is Luke Wiedenfeld.

The runners-up and their FFA chapters were:: Eve Ihlenfeld, Slinger FFA; Chase Patterson, Unity FFA; Taryn Smits, Randolph Cambria-Friesland FFA; and Collin Zimmermann, Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah FFA.


Produce farm among Fast Forward grant recipients

Businesses and organizations across Wisconsin are getting more than $1.65 million in grants from the Department of Workforce Development (DWD).  The grants are part of DWD's Wisconsin Fast Forward initiative that provides targeted funds to support worker training, education, and recruitment.

The DWD granted $69,050 to Wysocki Produce Farm, Inc. (Portage County), which is partnering with Mid-State Technical College to provide 76 hours of training to 24 incumbent workers in basic electrical skills and safety technology.

Trainees will also learn how to perform preventative maintenance and increase their communications skills, all of which will allow the incumbent workers to transfer from seasonal to full-time permanent employment.


Equity Co-op cancels annual District meetings

Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association will not hold its annual slate of district meetings this year due to the pandemic.

Les Danielson, chairman of the regional board of directors said the group made the decision to cancel based on the safety of members and staff.

"Our cooperative's district annual meetings have always been a great opportunity for members to gather, enjoy a meal, receive updates on programs and services, and receive financial information and door prizes," said Danielson, adding that Equity will continue to post updates on its website as well as Facebook page.


Man in organic seed fraud case given 51 months in prison

A man accused of using his South Dakota businesses to defraud wholesale seed distributors out of millions of dollars has been sentenced to more than four years in federal prison. 

Kent Duane Anderson, of Bradenton, FL., is accused of reselling thousands of tons of non-organic seeds at a marked-up organic price through his businesses, Bar Two Bar Ranch and Green Leaf Resources and several Green Leaf spinoffs.

According to the Associated Press, an indictment says that between October 2012 and December 2017, Anderson bought about $46 million worth of non-organic seed, sold it as organic for about $71 million and used the profits to buy a yacht, Florida home, jewelry, expensive vehicles and land in South Dakota, among other things. 


New cherry tomato’s thicker skin promises improved yield

A new variety of cherry tomatoes from Cornell AgriTech provides improved yield and shelf-life while enhancing both visual and culinary appeal.

A cross between heirloom tomato varieties, Cherry Ember was developed by Phillip Griffiths, associate professor of horticulture. The new tomato is now on sale through Fruition Seeds, an organic seed company based in Naples, N.Y., according to a news release.

Cherry Ember's thicker skin and meatier flesh help keep the fruit from cracking both in the field and after being harvested — even during high rainfall seasons, which pose problems for thinner skins.

Cherry Ember also gives growers something to look forward to as early as mid-July since it ripens just 65 days after being planted and continues to grow until the first frost.


Fall turkey harvest numbers, permit sales increase in 2020

Hunters registered 4,600 birds during the fall 2020 wild turkey season, a 21% increase compared to the 3,792 turkeys registered during the 2019 fall season, according to the Wisconsin DNR

In total, 81,710 harvest authorizations were issued for the 2020 fall season, an increase of 6,935 from 2019. Of the 81,710 harvest authorizations issued, 76,748 were awarded with a fall turkey license, and 4,962 were sold over-the-counter as bonus harvest authorizations. This fall, the department issued 271 more fall bonus harvest authorizations than in 2019.

The harvest success rate in 2020 was 5.6%, very close to the harvest success rate of 5.1% in 2019.


Police accuse man of stealing citrus tree heaters

A California man was arrested for allegedly stealing hundreds of heaters used to prevent citrus trees from freezing.

The 29-year-old man was accused of taking the heaters, known as smudge pots, from farms in Mentone and the University of California Riverside Citrus Research Center in January, The Press-Enterprise reported Saturday.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said the man was seen Jan. 12 at one of the Mentone farms loading smudge pots into his pickup truck. Employees attempted to stop him before he fled with 100 heaters. 

The university was the victim of two burglaries of about 100 smudge pots with an estimated value of more than $10,000, university police said.

Peggy Mauk, the university's agricultural operations director, said thieves are known to sell smudge pots to recyclers for about $200 each or use them for heat on camping trips.