Ag Briefs: Memorial service set for Jeff Hicken

Wisconsin State Farmer
Jeff Hicken


Memorial service set for Jeff Hicken

The Wisconsin agriculture educators and state FFA program suffered a great loss with the passing of Jeff Hicken on June 18. Hicken, 47, was the ag and natural resources education consultant with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

He also served as the State FFA Advisor, a role he held for over 15 years. He was also a member of the National FFA Board of Directors.

A public memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 25, at Waupun Area Junior/Senior High School, 801 E. Lincoln St., Waupun. Visitation will  begin at 10 a.m. with a special Memorial Service led by Pastor Gwen Loomans at 2:00 p.m. Following the service there will be additional visitation time from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.


State milk production up 6% over a year ago

Wisconsin cows produced 2.73 billion pounds of milk in May 2021, up 6% from the previous May, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report.

While the average number of milk cows during May, at 1.27 million head, was the same as last month, the state's herd grew by 17,000 head over a year ago. Cows were also more efficient, with monthly production per cow averaging 2,145 pounds, up 85 pounds from last May.

Milk production in the 24 major States during May totaled 18.9 billion pounds, up 4.9% from May 2020. April revised production, at 18.5 billion pounds, was up 3.7% from April 2020.

The April revision represented an increase of 44 million pounds or 0.2% from last month's preliminary production estimate. Production per cow in the 24 major States averaged 2,107 pounds for May, 63 pounds above May 2020.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major States was 8.99 million head, 152,000 head more than May 2020, and 5,000 head more than April 2021.The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.51 million head, 145,000 head more than May 2020, and 5,000 head more than April 2021.


ASF vaccine could be on market next year

Researchers have never been closer to developing an African swine fever vaccine. 

Swine Health Information Center director Dr. Paul Sundberg told Brownfield Ag News that there has been much progress over the last few years to develop a vaccine for ASF, and says the vaccine may be ready next year.

Sundberg says the threat of African swine fever reaching North America is lessening, and that customs and border protection is more sensitized to how ASF could be illegally imported, and that USDA has put in a lot of work on preparing and responding.


Rep. Kind introduces bill to reduce cost of alternative energy options 

Rep. Ron Kind introduced the bipartisan Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Act, which would provide tax incentives to farmers and rural electric cooperatives who invest in biogas technology.

The Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Act promotes investment by allowing biodigesters to qualify for an energy tax credit that is on-par with the 30% tax credit for solar energy. This will allow for Wisconsin dairy farms to finally have affordable access installation of biodigesters on their farms, significantly reducing the upfront cost. 

Farms will now be able to use digesters or other biological, chemical, thermal, or mechanical processes to make biogas that is at least 52% methane, adding an immediate new revenue stream and dramatically decreasing pollution and runoff.   

This bill is also included in the GREEN Act.


Enter Wisconsin Corn Growers Association’s 2021 Corn Yield contest

The Wisconsin Corn Growers Association (WCGA) is taking entries for the annual Wisconsin Corn Yield Contest. The contest highlights the importance of using sound agronomic practices in Wisconsin corn production systems.

To be eligible, entrants must be a WCGA member in good standing and the contest entry must be from a field of corn 10 or more acres in size of one variety. The contest area may be any shape, but the contest plot must be a total of 1.25 or more harvested acres.

To enter this year’s contest, visit to download the Harvest Report form. Winners will be selected from four geographical divisions – the Northern and Southern divisions plus two county-specific divisions.

The entrant is responsible for mailing the information and must be postmarked, emailed or faxed by Dec. 17, 2021, to be eligible for this contest. Completed forms may be emailed to, faxed to 262-372-3289 or mailed to Wisconsin Corn Growers Association at N77W24707 Century Court, Lisbon, WI 53089. Winners will be announced at the WCGA annual meeting during the 2022 Corn/Soy Expo.


Smithfield sued for profiting from Covid meat-shortage fears

A consumer advocacy group is suing Smithfield Foods Inc. for allegedly fueling fears of a meat shortage during the pandemic to boost demand and prices for its products, Bloomberg reported.

Food & Water Watch filed a lawsuit on June 16 in Washington, D.C., claiming Smithfield, the top U.S. pork producer, sought to drive up demand even as it had ample reserves in cold storage and increased exports, mostly to China. The lawsuit also alleges the company misled the public about safety measures for its workers.


DBIA awards $1.19M in grants to Midwest dairy entrepreneurs

A dozen Wisconsin businesses were among 26 Midwest dairy entrepreneurs that split $1.19 million in grants. Wisconsin businesses received $550,000 in funding. Dairy entrepreneurs from the five-state region of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin were selected to receive up to $50,000 each in awards from DBIA.

Wisconsin recipients include: Carr Valley Cheese Co.; Cider Farm Brands, LLC; Hollands’s Family Cheese, LLC;  Klemish Creamery; Landmark Creamery; Maple Leaf Cheese Coop dba Monroe Farmers; Olala Creamery; Pasture Pride Cheese, LLC; Royal Guernsey Creamery, LLC; Specialty Cheese Co., Inc.; Tuls Dairy dba DARI, LLC and Yodelay Yogurt, LLC.


Grant Co. excels in state 4-H Meats contest

Grant County's meat judging team will represent Wisconsin when it competes at the National 4-H Meats Judging Contest this fall. The county's senior team comprised of, amassed the most points in the senior division of the Wisconsin 4-H Meats Contest held recently in Baraboo.

Grant County's junior team topped its division and featured the judging talents of Libby Vogt, Leah Patterson, Cameron Patterson, Aiden Patterson, Anna Drinkwater, and Kegan Patterson. Both teams are coached by Dennis Patterson. 

According to a news release, contestants were tasked with evaluating and ranking classes of hams, livestock carcasses, as well as identifying retail cuts and processed meats products, grading carcasses and analyzing meat labels.


DNR Confirms CWD In Green Lake Co. wild deer

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed a wild deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Green Lake County. The CWD-positive deer was an adult deer found dead in the Town of Brooklyn in early May 2021.

This is the first wild deer that has tested positive for CWD in Green Lake County, and its location is also within ten miles of adjacent Fond du Lac, Winnebago and Waushara counties.

With this new CWD-detection, Winnebago County is now considered a CWD-affected county. As required by state law, the DNR will enact a new two-year ban on baiting and feeding of deer in Winnebago County effective July 1, 2021. State law requires the DNR to enact a ban on feeding and baiting deer in counties or portions of counties within a ten-mile radius of a wild or farm-raised deer that tests positive for CWD or tuberculosis.

Green Lake, Fond du Lac and Waushara counties are already identified as CWD-affected counties and already have baiting and feeding bans in place. This new CWD-positive detection will renew a three-year baiting and feeding ban in Green Lake County and two-year bans in Fond du Lac and Waushara counties.


CNH Industrial acquires driverless ag vehicle company

CNH Industrial expects its $2.1 billion purchase of a South Dakota company will give it an edge in innovating autonomous technology in agriculture vehicles, the global manufacturer told Associated Press. 

The Italian-American agriculture vehicle manufacturer said it has acquired 100% of the capital stock of Raven Industries Inc. headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for $58 per share. 

The transaction will be funded with available cash on hand, CNH Industrial said, with a sale to be finalized by the end of 2021. 

The sale will position CNH Industrial to have a greater impact on the global agriculture equipment market by "adding strong innovation capabilities in autonomous and precision agriculture technology," the company said in a statement. 


WI fire departments receive life-saving grain rescue tubes, training 

Fire departments in Berlin and Bloomington, Wis. were among 48 fire departments with grain rescue tubes and training from Nationwide’s Grain Bin Safety program.

The equipment and training will help prevent grain entrapment deaths by providing rural rescue workers with life-saving grain rescue tubes and hands-on training.

NECAS, based out of Peosta, IA, will deliver the rescue tubes and training to the winning fire departments throughout 2021.


Compeer Financial awards grant to Easterseals Wisconsin FARM Program

Easterseals Wisconsin FARM Program has received a $5,000 grant from Compeer Financial's Fund for Rural America, which helps support farmers with disabilities.

The FARM Program has helped disabled farmers succeed in their farm operations and agricultural careers since 1989. They deliver on-farm assistance and technology assessments for workplace modifications. 

“We are grateful for the support we have received from Compeer,” says Paul Leverenz, President and CEO of Easterseals Wisconsin. “Empowering people to sustain their way of life, not only for themselves but for their families, is why we do what we do at Easterseals Wisconsin.”