Ag Briefs: Culver's Thank You Farmers® Project donations hit $3M

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs


Ag teacher awarded Kohl Fellowship Award

Sauk Prairie ag teacher Troy Talford of Sauk County is among the 100 educators chosen to receive the Herb Kohl Fellowship award. 

A graduate of UW River Falls, Talford has taught agriculture education for the past 16 years. In 2014, he became a National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador where he facilitated workshops for other instructors throughout the nation. And he was recently named just one of only six individuals nationwide who received the Teacher Mentor Award by the National Association of Agricultural Educators, Wisconsin Ag Connection reported.

Taford is among 40 plus agricultural education teachers in the state have earned the honor since its inception, the report said.


Farmers take hit on milk spoiled at dairy processing plant due to power outage

Milk spoiled at dairy processing plant in Texas due to power outages, costing local producers millions of dollars.

According to KCBD, power outages at Continental Dairy Facilities Southwest, a select milk co-op in Littlefield, Texas occurred when Atmos energy cut off the facility in an effort to curtail gas use.

Select Milk HR director Haley Welch told KCBD the plant ended up dumping 1,400 truckloads of milk which equals about 8 million gallons of milk at about a $12 million loss for producers.

The order came after Atmos had already marked up its gas prices by 1000%.

“So, it was going to cost us $300,000 a day to run the gas, which we were willing to pay so we did not have to dump all these tankers of milk,” Welch said.

The facility is a balancing plant, it takes raw milk and turns it into butter or dry milk, giving the product a longer shelf life. 

Though the plant has business interruption insurance, it's unclear if the claim will be paid due to the lack of physical damage to the plant. Leaving farmers on the hook for the loss.


The CME spot dairy auction optimistic

Market watchers were a bit surprised and hopeful as they tracked this week's opening of the CME spot dairy auction. Class III prices started out in the basement but climbed up to close .05 lower March through July 2021. Class III values rose even higher from August through December, rising .10.

While many observers were hoping for high $16's and mid-$17's/ cwt., the market forecast is supporting prices of $17.95/cwt. average to even $18.00/cwt.

Class IV markets also responded upwards – thanks to butter's price performance jumping 16.5 cents/lb., settling out at $1.635/lb.– up .15-.25 cents/cwt., according to CME reports.


Culver's Thank You Farmers® Project donations hit $3M

Since creating the Thank You Farmers Project in 2013, Culver's has raised $3 million to support agricultural education.

The Thank You Farmers Project is about more than showing appreciation for the hard work of today's farmers: It's about ensuring we have enough food to serve our growing population by supporting agricultural education efforts that encourage smart farming. One way that Culver's does this is by supporting FFA.

One of the many ways that Culver's supports FFA is through the annual FFA Essay Contest – which just launched on Feb. 22, 2021, for its seventh year.

Like past years, three winners will be chosen to receive funds for their FFA chapters in the totals of $7,500, $5,000, and $2,500. Because the pandemic has made it very difficult for FFA chapters to host their own fundraisers, the prize money will help the winning chapters pursue educational projects and initiatives that otherwise may have gone unfunded.

As always, the contest is a chance for students to demonstrate their passion for agricultural education. New this year, students will also be able to submit videos for the contest. 


WI farms receive FACT grants

Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), a national nonprofit organization that works to ensure that all food-producing animals are raised in a humane and healthy manner, recently awarded more than $130,000 in Fund-a-Farmer Grants to a diverse slate of 56 livestock farmers and ranchers located across the country.

Wisconsin farms receive grant monies include: Three Brothers Farm, Oconomowoc, WI, $2,500 (farmers seeking or holding animal welfare certification); ee Hemp Farm in Burlington, WI, $1,700 (pasture improvement projects).


FFA Alumni groups host consignment auction

The Lodi FFA Alumni, together with the Wisconsin Heights FFA Alumni, are hosting an online only Spring Consignment Auction beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday, April 25, 2021.

Kalscheur’s Implement, located in Cross Plains, Wis., will be ‘hosting’ the even. An auction preview day, including a food stand, will be held Saturday, April 24. Additional information about specific consignment item drop-off dates and times will be posted online.

To check out auction details visit (click on Events tab) or the Lodi FFA Facebook page. Funds will support the Lodi and Wisconsin Heights high school ag programs and assist with student development activities.


Romanski participates in NASDA policy conference

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary-designee Randy Romanski participated in the virtual 2021 National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Winter Policy Conference, held February 22-25, 2021. 

“The theme of this year’s NASDA Winter Policy Conference was ‘Together at the Table,’ which especially in these unprecedented times, is fitting that states work together to address the challenges facing the agriculture industry and the entire food supply chain,” said DATCP Secretary-designee Romanski.

Secretary-designee Romanski was active in the animal agriculture committee meeting, proposing two policy action items for the organization including encouraging the expansion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Meat Plant Modernization Grant eligibility and advocating for a One Health, Emergency Response in non-traditional situations. Both passed the committee unanimously.

“I am delighted my colleagues and I were able to pass these action items to promote additional resources for our nation’s small meat establishments and to encourage increased coordination between intergovernmental agencies and the industry, especially when there are new or emerging disease threats,” Romanski said in a news release. “As the country continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to utilize all available resources to create and protect processing and marketing opportunities for our livestock farmers and meat processors.”


Land averages $3,460 acre at Kansas auction

Fourteen buyers spend an average of $3,460 per acre for irrigated and drylands at a Kansas auction that put 10,900 on the block.

According to Successful Farming, the land – located in Seward and Stevens counties in southwest Kansas – featured a mix of center-pivot irrigated land, dryland, native grass, and land with improvements, including sheds, grain bins, and dwellings. Tract sizes ranged from 6.91 acres m/l to 1,085.87 acres, with 10,037.76 FSA cropland acres of which 1,609.45 acres m/l are enrolled in CRP with annual payments totaling over $48,000.

The seller was Hatcher Farms, an operation with more than 7,000 acres of irrigated land including a 4,999-head feedlot, plus infrastructure including center pivot and pump systems, and grain bins. Each tract’s water rights sold with the property, which sits atop the Ogallala Aquifer. 


Official: California likely facing critically dry year

California will likely face a critically dry year with much less runoff from the Sierra Nevada snowpack than normal and reservoirs that already are showing the impact of winter precipitation that is well below average, Associated Press reported.

The state Department of Water Resources' latest survey via a network of electronic stations found the water content of the overall snowpack was 61% of the March 2 average and 54 % of the average on April 1, when it is historically at its maximum.

Surveys of the Sierra snowpack, which normally supplies about 30% of California's water, are a key element of the department's water supply forecast.

December, January and February are typically the wettest part of the "water year," which starts each Oct. 1.


Mexican Supreme Court delays potato import decision

Mexico’s Supreme Court delayed a controversial decision on banning U.S. fresh potatoes that could have wider implications on agricultural trade with Mexico.

Agri-Pulse reported that a lower court previously decided in favor of demands from Mexican potato farmers that U.S. potatoes should be banned, but the U.S. has continued to ship spuds to Mexican buyers under heavy restrictions that only allow them to be delivered 16 miles past the border.

The U.S. exports about $60 million worth of fresh spuds across the southern border every year despite the major Mexican trade barrier. That could rise as high as $200 million per year if the court rules to give U.S. potatoes full access to the Mexican market.

That’s still a relatively small portion of the $19.1 billion worth of total U.S. ag exports to Mexico in 2020, according to USDA data.


Shipload of cattle to be killed after 2 months at sea

Nearly 900 cattle that have been on a ship traveling the Mediterranean Sea for two months will be sacrificed after veterinarians deemed them no longer fit for export, Spanish authorities said.

A total of 895 cattle set sail from the Spanish port of Cartagena on Dec. 18 in the cargo ship named Karim Allah destined for export to Turkey. Turkish port authorities, however, refused to let them disembark, reportedly due to suspicions about their health. 

After a second failed attempt to unload the cattle in Libya, the boat returned to Cartagena, where Spanish authorities ordered it to dock on Thursday. 

After an official inspection by government veterinarians, Spain's minister of agriculture said animals were to be sacrificed. Veterinarians judged them to be both unfit either for transport to another country of for their return to Spain. 

The ministry said the cattle originally left Spain with the proper health authorizations.

Animal rights groups have denounced the slaughter of the livestock.