Ag Briefs: Toddler killed in Waupaca Co. farming accident

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Waupaca, WI

Toddler killed in Waupaca County farming accident

A 2-year-old boy has died in a farming accident in Waupaca County, according to sheriff's officials. 

According to authorities, the child was riding in a skid steer loader, fell forward and was briefly pinned between the bucket and support arm. The accident happened in the Town of St. Lawrence about 6:30 p.m. Monday. 

The toddler was taken by medical helicopter to Thedacare Medical Center in Neenah. He was transferred to Children's Wisconsin hospital in Milwaukee where he died. 

An investigation into his death is ongoing. The boy has not been identified. 

MADISON, WI

Madison to become state 3rd FEMA mass vaccination site

The COVID-19 vaccination center at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison will be able to increase the number of doses delivered by 2,100 a week thanks to new staffing support from the federal government starting on Wednesday, Gov. Tony Evers announced.

The site will become the third in Wisconsin run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency. It also runs a mass vaccination clinic at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee. Another FEMA-run mass vaccination clinic opens Thursday at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Zorn Arena.

Associated Press reported that the state has committed to supplying 7,000 doses of vaccine a week at the Madison center, which has the capacity to inoculate 1,400 people per day. Additional 26 staff from the federal government will allow for 2,100 more doses to be administered per week, depending on supply, compared with the 5,600 weekly doses currently, Evers' office said. The mass clinic opened in late December.

MADISON, WI

USDA releases WI grain stocks report

Corn stored in all positions in Wisconsin on March 1, 2021, totaled 333 million bushels according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. This was up 13% from the previous March’s total stocks of 294 million bushels.

Of the total stocks, 50% were stored on-farm. The indicated quarterly disappearance from Dec. 2020-Feb. 2021 totaled 132 million bushels, 56% above the 85.1 million bushels from the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions in Wisconsin on March 1, 2021, totaled 39.0 million bushels. This was down 39% from the previous March’s total stocks of 63.7 million bushels on hand March 1, 2020. Of the total stocks, 30% were stored onfarm. Indicated disappearance for Dec. 2020-Feb. 2021 was 29.9 million bushels, 86% above the 16.1 million bushels from the same period last year.

Oats stored in all positions in Wisconsin on March 1, 2021, totaled 6.43 million bushels, up 15% from the 5.59 million bushels on hand March 1, 2020. Of the total stocks, 26% were stored on-farm.

CARLTON, OR

17 exposed to carbon monoxide at pork and beef facility

More than a dozen people were exposed to carbon monoxide at pork and beef facility southwest of Portland. 

Yamhill County Fire said the Carlton Farms retail and packaging areas were evacuated just after 11:30 a.m. Monday after carbon monoxide spread through the air conditioning system, KATU-TV reported.

 In total, authorities said 17 people were treated for carbon monoxide exposure. Eleven of them were transported to a hospital with symptoms including nausea, vomiting and headaches. It appeared no patients were in serious condition, KOIN-TV reported.

McMinnville Fire officials said seven agencies responded to the Carlton Farms plant after reports of a boiler malfunction.

BILLINGS, MT

Drought-breaking rains more erratic, rare in US West

Rainstorms grew more erratic and droughts much longer across most of the U.S. West over the past half-century as climate change warmed the planet, according to a government study released Tuesday that concludes the situation is worsening.

Associated Press reported that the most dramatic changes were recorded in the desert Southwest, where the average dry period between rainstorms grew from about 30 days in the 1970s to 45 days between storms now.

The consequences of the intense dry periods that pummeled areas of the West in recent years were severe — more intense and dangerous wildfires, parched croplands and not enough vegetation to support livestock and wildlife.

And the problem appears to be accelerating, with rainstorms becoming more unpredictable and more areas showing longer intervals between storms since the turn of the century compared to prior decades, the study concludes.

MADISON, ME

Tomato grower owes $337K in back wages, penalties

A Maine tomato grower must pay $337,465 in back wages and penalties after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation revealed that the employer failed to comply with federal laws for wages and working conditions. 

Investigators found that Backyard Farms LLC in Madison violated the H2-A Temporary Agricultural Visa Program and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, according to the agency. 

The H2-A program allows agricultural employers to utilize nonimmigrant international workers when there is an expected shortage of domestic workers and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act protects these workers, the Morning Sentinel reported.

Investigators found that Backyard violated H2-A by dismissing domestic workers to make room for foreign workers. In addition, Backyard paid workers in corresponding employment lower wages than it paid H-2A workers, which is prohibited. 

VIROQUA, WI

Jersey Spring Spectacular set for May

Jersey breeders from across the Midwest will head to southwest Wisconsin for the 22nd annual Wisconsin Jersey Spring Spectacular event.

The 2-day event is set for May 7-8 at the Vernon County Fairgrounds in Viroqua. Showmanship will lead off the weekend on Friday afternoon with the heifers and milking cow classes entering the ring on Saturday, according to the WI Jersey Breeders Facebook page.

Entry information for the show will be released shortly. The deadline for entries is April 23. For more information, call 608-606-1818.

WASHINGTON D.C.

USDA reopens CFAP 2 signup

Producers can once again sign up to receive funding from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program after a freeze on the program from the early days of the Biden administration and the recent rollout of additional funds for pandemic relief.

According to USDA, signup begins today and will be open for “at least 60 days.” The initial signup for the program ended in December. In announcing the reopened signup, USDA also announced the availability of $2 million to “establish partnerships with organizations to provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.”

“USDA is committed to making financial assistance available to a broader set of producers, including to socially disadvantaged communities, and we know that we need partners to help make that happen,” Zach Ducheneaux, administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency, said in a statement.

Awards will range from $20,000 to $99,999 for a duration of six months to one year, USDA noted.

CASA GRANDE, AZ

AZ farmers should expect less water in 2022

State officials are putting farmers in south-central Arizona on notice that the continuing drought means a "substantial cut" in deliveries of Colorado River water is expected next year.

The Central Arizona Project is an aqueduct system that delivers Colorado River water to users in central Arizona and southern Arizona, including farmers, cities and tribes.

A shortage declaration would prompt the additional reduction to take effect under 2019 drought contingency plan hashed out by the seven states in the river's basin — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — to lessen the effects.

The statement said the current thinking is that Arizona would be expected to reduce its use of river water by a total of 512,000 acre-feet in 2022, up from 192,000 acre-feet currently, but that supplies for cities and tribes are not expected to be affected.

Arizona is entitled to 2.8 million acre-feet of river water. An acre-foot of water is enough water to cover an acre with water one foot deep.

Casa Grande farmer Nancy Caywood said farms should be very concerned by the prospect of their water allotments being reduced and should pick their crops carefully.