Ag Briefs: Biden supports farmers in 'Right to Repair' tractor software battle

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs

MADISON, WI

Results announced for Wisconsin Cherry Board

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has certified the 2021 Wisconsin Cherry Board election results. Starting July 1, 2021, Terry Sorenson of Sturgeon Bay and Barry Peterson of Green Bay will begin a three-year term as elected members of the Wisconsin Cherry Board.

The WI Cherry Board is composed of five at-large members that are responsible for administering Wisconsin's Cherry Marketing Order. The board oversees the collection and use of approximately $50,000 in assessment fees paid by Wisconsin cherry growers.

This funding is used to support the cherry industry through research, education, and promotion of Wisconsin-grown cherries.

MADISON, WI

Attention exhibitors for World Dairy Expo

Entry forms are available for those interested in exhibiting at 2021 World Dairy Expo in Madison. To access entry forms, visit the WDE website. World Dairy Expo is set for Sept. 28 through Oct. 2.

All entries are due by Sept. 6. Late entries will be accepted until September 16 for an additional fee.

According to show organizers, all animals shown at the event must have an official USDA AIN or Canadian CCIA RFID number listed on the entry form at the time of submission. Animal entries lacking this number or with a pending identification status will not be accepted.

BRATTLEBORO, VT

WI youth showcase skills at National Holstein convention contests

Youth put their dairy knowledge to the test during the Holstein Foundation's national Holstein youth competitions held in Lancaster, Pa. last week, as part of the 2021 National Holstein Convention.

In the National Dairy Bowl contest, four-person teams compete within two age divisions: Junior, ages 9-15, and Senior, ages 16-21. After an extremely close competition in the Senior Division between California and Wisconsin that resulted in a tie-breaker match, Wisconsin took home the champion prize. Members of the winning Wisconsin team included Katherine Elwood, Courtney Glenna, Grace Haase and Marie Haase coached by Patti Hurtgen and Gwen Dado.

Marie Haase of WIsconsin place second in the senior division of the Dairy Knowledge Exam. The event is open to any youth attending the National Junior Holstein Convention who wants to challenge their dairy know-how with a 25-question written test.

Brianna Meyer of Wisconsin placed third in the senior division of the Prepared Public Speaking competition. Meyer was also elected to the National Junior Advisory Committee and will represent Area III.

Carly Strauss was among eight Junior Holstein members were awarded scholarships by the National Holstein Women’s Scholarship Organization during the National Junior Holstein Convention.

NEW PRAGUE, MN

National Mastitis Council seeks milk quality nominations

It’s time to nominate outstanding dairy farms for National Mastitis Council’s (NMC) National Dairy Quality Awards (NDQA) program. This program recognizes dairies that excel in producing high-quality milk. Nominations are due Aug. 31.

The program recognizes U.S. dairy producers who market milk with a low somatic cell count (SCC) and low standard plate count (SPC). Additionally, judges evaluate dairy producers’ systems of monitoring udder health, milking routine, protocols for detection and treatment of clinical and subclinical cases of mastitis, and strategies for overall herd health and welfare.

Dairy industry professionals – including veterinarians, extension agents, dairy processor field staff and consultants – are encouraged to nominate dairy herds that exemplify milk quality excellence. To nominate a dairy farm, go to: https://www.nmconline.org/ndqa and complete the online nomination form. Dairy producers cannot nominate themselves or their peers.

Judges will select approximately 50 finalists from the NDQA nominations. Finalists, along with their nominators, will complete a more detailed final application. From the finalists, judges will rank dairy operations as Platinum, Gold or Silver. 

MONTGOMERY, AL

Prairie Farms Cooperative closing all Alabama facilities

A major Illinois-based dairy cooperative has issued layoff notices that will effectively end all its operations in Alabama and parts of Georgia.

Prairie Farms notified employees at its Birmingham milk plant on Wednesday that the facility, and all its substations and branches across the state, will be closed on July 31, WFSA reported.

All employees will be permanently laid off on that date, except for some maintenance crews who will continue working in order to close down each facility. Those workers will be laid off by Aug. 31.

The cooperative will also close seven other facilities in Alabama as well as four operations in Georgia. Currently, it remains unknown as to why these plants are closing.

SALEM, OR

Ranchers required to vaccinate mink against COVID

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has filed a temporary emergency rule requiring all mink ranchers to vaccinate their animals against COVID-19.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that state Veterinarian Dr. Ryan Scholz said officials are looking to stop the virus from mutating in mink and being passed back to humans.

The state has given ranchers until the end of August to vaccinate.

WASHINGTON D.C.

Biden supports farmers in 'Right to Repair' tractor software battle

U.S. President Joe Biden wants the Federal Trade Commission to limit the ability of farm equipment manufacturers to restrict tractor owners from using independent repair shops or complete some repairs on their own, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters Tuesday.

Biden's planned executive order on competition, expected to be released in the coming days, will encourage the FTC to address the issue, the source said. Some tractor manufacturers like Deere & Co use proprietary repair tools and software to prevent third parties from performing some repairs. Deere and the FTC did not immediately comment.

The FTC wrote a report for Congress in May that discussed "Right to Repair," which addresses the issue of limits that manufacturers put on who can repair items ranging from mobile phones to home appliances to cars. Those limits may also raise the price of those repairs.

LANSING, MI

Michigan rescinds mandatory COVID-19 testing for ag workers

Michigan rescinded a 10-month-old order requiring coronavirus testing of agricultural and migrant workers, citing increased vaccinations and a lower number of infections.

The state Department of Health and Human Services' measure had taken effect last summer after nearly a dozen outbreaks at farms and food-processing plants.

Michigan recently awarded contracts totaling nearly $60 million to boost vaccine access for high-risk populations and settings, including more than 28,000 migrant and seasonal employees.

Separate emergency agriculture rules remain intact. They require labor housing camps to have coronavirus preparedness and response plans, to notify heath authorities of cases and to quarantine infected individuals.

Associated Press reported that the move came more than a week after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer scaled back COVID-19 workplace safety rules, keeping mask and other requirements only in health care settings.

RALEIGH, N.C.

New biogas permitting for hog farms now law

A streamlined permitting process for hog farmers who also want to convert methane from waste ponds into energy will begin after Gov. Roy Cooper signed the legislature's annual agriculture bill into law Friday.

The Democratic governor decided the measure will be enacted, despite dozens of environmental, civil rights and community groups urging him to veto the bill due to "general permit" language for biomass operations contained inside. Cooper had until July 11 to act on the measure or it would become law without him.

The farm measure directs the Environmental Management Commission, a part of the Department of Environmental Quality, to develop a "general permit" for animal farm operations that allow the owner to construct and operate a farm digester system, Associated Press reported.

Until now, digester operators had to seek an individual permit, which can be time-consuming for the farmer and usually gives the public the chance to comment on the request at a hearing. The new law says environmental regulators must decide on a farm and biogas general permit application — expected to last five years — within 90 days, or it's otherwise considered approved.