Ag Briefs: Rural residents, businesses will test Starlink service

Wisconsin State Farmer
Wisconsin briefs


Compeer grants $10K to UW-Platteville Dairy Pilot Plant at Pioneer Farm

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville is one step closer to launching the new Dairy Pilot Plant, thanks to a recent $10,000 grant from Compeer Financial.

The proposed plant, which will be located at Pioneer Farm, will provide research and education on dairy food product development while also giving students an opportunity to learn about rural economic development, entrepreneurship and sustainability, according to the university.

The Dairy Pilot Plant will also be integrated into system level research on feed efficiency, energy usage and water usage.

UW-Platteville’s Dairy Pilot Plant will be the first dairy food processing plant on a university farm in the state of Wisconsin. Faculty and students will be able to process milk from Pioneer Farm to make cheese and ice cream, while performing research and development for other types of products, such as using goat milk from other farms to make cheese.

It will also be a resource for industry, offering opportunities to work on product development, both food-related and nonfood-related, using waste products to create new byproducts.


Lawmakers pass bill banning meat terms on plant-based products

Texas lawmakers have approved House Bill 316, which will restrict the use of terms such as “meat”, “beef” and “chicken” on plant-based food labelling in order to prevent brands from “misleading” consumers.

The new law defines these terms as “any edible portion of a formerly live and whole cattle [or] chicken carcass, not derived by synthetic or artificial means”. 

The descriptors “pork” and “poultry” will also be banned from labels of plant-based food products, though other terms like “burger” and “sausage” are not included. 

In addition to restricting such terms from being used to describe plant-based alternatives, the bill will apply to any non-animal food products, such as lab-grown or cell-cultured meat and insect protein, the Austin-American Statesman reported.


 Rural residents, businesses will test Starlink service

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation announced on May 13 that it is assisting Eau Claire County in launching a pilot program to test SpaceX’s Starlink, a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites that can provide high-speed internet in rural areas where broadband is limited or not available.

The pilot project, which will provide high-speed internet to 50 rural homes and businesses, is being supported by a $27,500 Capacity Building Grant from WEDC, as well as funding from a group of healthcare providers including Marshfield Clinic, Mayo Clinic and Hospital Sisters Health System. Chippewa Valley Technical College and PESI Online Learning also contributed and are partners on the pilot project.


Senate confirms Bronaugh as USDA deputy secretary

The U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Jewel H. Bronaugh by voice vote to serve as deputy secretary of agriculture at USDA. The action is a historic step of confirming the first African-American woman to serve as deputy secretary at USDA.

In a news release, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said "(Bronaugh) has a long, distinguished career as an educator and champion for farmers and rural communities."

Bronaugh most recently served as the commissioner of the Virginia Dept. of Ag and Consumer Services as well as holding the title of Virginia State executive director for the USDA FSA. She also was employed as dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University with oversight of Extension, research and academic programs. 


Deadline to apply for PDPF grants approaching

The Professional Dairy Producers Foundation is accepting applications for grants for up to $5,000 until June 1, 2021.

These grants will be given to new and/or unique programs that support dairy producers in Wisconsin. A press release said the grant selection committee will be looking for applicants who focus on raising the next generation of dairy farmers as well as building public trust in dairy products and improving industry workers' skills.

The foundation has awarded more than $275,000 in grants since 2010 to support the dairy industry. Application materials and more information can be found on their website,


Methane emissions from U.S. dairies in decline

U.S. dairy and livestock trends point to a decline in methane emissions. While the greenhouse gas has been used by climate change activists to clobber animal agriculture, science points to a different trend.

According to Western Farm Press, methane as a greenhouse gas has long been linked to animal agriculture by activitsts. That appears to be shifting as scientific discovery suggests a reduction in atmospheric methane over the United States.

Frank Mitloehner, a professor and air quality Extension specialist with the University of California said methane does not accumulate in the atmosphere like carbon dioxide but is part of a cycle that starts and ends as carbon.

Mitloehner noted that the accumulation of atmospheric methane is flat or declining in developed countries as livestock herd numbers, particularly in the US, are declining.


DNR considers ending night wolf hunt, shorter registrations

Wisconsin wildlife officials are considering revising wolf regulations to prohibit night hunting and shorten the window for registering kills after hunters blew past their quota in February. 

The DNR's policy board is scheduled to vote May 26 on whether to authorize a public hearing on the possible changes. The hearing would be the first step toward drafting new regulations ahead of the next hunt in November, according to an Associated Press report.

The DNR says consistent hunting hours and a shorter registration window will be key to protecting the wolf population during the upcoming November hunt. The department also wants to revise regulations to create zone-specific tags rather than statewide tags to get a better read on kill totals in different regions.

East Lansing, MI

No injuries in barn fire at MSU facility for cattle research

Authorities were investigating after a fire extensively damaged part of a Michigan State University facility used for cattle research. 

Ingham County dispatchers received a call around 7:45 p.m. Saturday about a fire at the Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center on the East Lansing campus. 

Campus police and East Lansing firefighters found a feed barn on fire. The fire was extinguished by 9 p.m. 

No animals or people were injured. The cause of the fire is under investigation. 


15 companies to share in Dairy Processor grants

Fifteen Wisconsin dairy companies will share $200,000 in receive Dairy Processor Grants in 2021 from the WI Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The grants are designed to foster innovation, improve profitability, and sustain the long-term viability of Wisconsin’s dairy processing facilities.

Grant recipients are required to provide a match of at least 20% of the grant amount. The grant recipients and their planned projects are: Caprine Supreme, Black Creek, installation of an additional walk-in cooler for product storage; Carr Valley Cheese Co., La Valle, creation of an equipment room and tank access hallway; Chalet Cheese, Monroe, installation of a new separator and cream tank; Clock Shadow Creamery, Milwaukee, rental of a packaging machine for two years to increase capacity; Decatur Dairy, Brodhead, purchase of engineering involved in building a warehouse that will store product; Foremost Farms, Baraboo, hiring of a consultant to explore options for new cheeses and line extensions.

Henning Cheese, Kiel, installation of an inline packaging machine; Highfield Farm Creamery, Walworth, placement of PVC curtain strips, purchasing cheese molds, and the installation of ceiling insulation above three aging rooms, a used COP tank, and a small brine tank; K&K Cheese, Cashton, hiring of a consultant to help determine the best type and configuration of LED lighting for facility and purchasing of the lights; Maple Leaf Cheese, Monroe, creation of a marketing program and business framework for including a more diverse production and distribution system; Nasonville Dairy, Marshfield, engineering of steam systems, updating of equipment including cheese vats and finishing tables, and the addition of one cheese tower.

Rolling Hills Dairy, Monroe, diversification to re-define role and offer quality cheese in a farm-to-table theme; Uplands Cheese, Dodgeville, purchase of multi-functional block molds and engineering a refurbished elevated vat; Widmers Cheese, Theresa, hiring of a consultant to help transition the business to the next generation and upgrade to the mail order system; and Zimmerman Cheese, South Wayne, hiring of a consultant for a GFSI audit and providing classes for employees to obtain or further cheese making licenses.