Ag Briefs: Honey bee colonies slowly rebounding

Wisconsin State Farmer
Midwest briefs


Milk production, cow numbers continue to climb

Milk production in Wisconsin during June 2021 totaled 2.64 billion pounds, up 3% from the previous June, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report.

The average number of milk cows during June, at 1.27 million head, was the same as last month and 17,000 more than June 2020. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,070 pounds, up 30 pounds from last June.

Milk production in the 24 major States during June totaled 18.1 billion pounds, up 3.2% from June 2020. May revised production, at 19.0 billion pounds, was up 4.9% from May 2020. The May revision represented an increase of 12 million pounds or 0.1% from last month's preliminary production estimate. Production per cow in the 24 major States averaged 2,011 pounds for June, 27 pounds above June 2020.


Federal court rejects NPPC's petition to strike down Proposition 12

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declined the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and American Farm Bureau Federation's petition to strike down Proposition 12 as unconstitutional under the dormant Commerce Clause, Farm Journal reported.

NPPC spokesman Jim Monroe said Prop 12 is a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause, However, the court said for dormant Commerce Clause purposes, laws that increase compliance costs, without more, do not constitute a significant burden on interstate commerce. The court's decision was 3-0.

The court said the groups' complaint against the state "fails to make a plausible allegation that the pork production industry is of such national concern that it is analogous to taxation or interstate travel, where uniform rules are crucial.

Although the complaint plausibly alleges that Proposition 12 will have an impact on a national industry, the court held that such impacts do not render the state law impermissibly extraterritorial.

Proposition 12, set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, will impose animal housing standards that reach far outside the state’s borders to farms across the country, NPPC said, while driving up costs for both pork producers and consumers. 


Ag businesses among WI Innovation Awards finalists

Two agriculture-related businesses are among 29 companies and nonprofit organizations that have been selected as finalists for the 2021 Wisconsin Innovation Awards. In total, over 331 businesses, products and services from around the state were nominated.

Nelson and Pade, Inc., a leader in aquaponics and sustainable agriculture, provides complete aquaponic systems, training, supplies, and support to its broad base of customers around the world. Clients in 35 countries use the innovative aquaponic systems and technology to grow fresh food, including vegetables and fish, for people in urban, suburban and rural communities.

Field to Freezer is a Hartland-based business that is helping consumers connect with meat processors thanks to their patent-pending App and application.

For Hunters, Farmers and Consumers, Field to Freezer offers the largest, for-purpose, searchable  database of wild game and domestic animal processing on the Internet, and our Express Line service, used by “Cutting Edge” processors to streamline your ordering, drop-off, and pick-up experience.

The finalists were determined by a panel of 27 statewide industry experts, with winners to be announced at the annual awards ceremony on October 5, 2021. Nominations spanned across the state of Wisconsin, representing startups, companies, and established businesses of all sizes and industries.


Honey bee colonies slowly rebounding

Honey bee colonies for operations with 5 or more colonies in Wisconsin as of January 1, 2021, totaled 25,000 colonies. This is 56% above the 16,000 colonies on January 1 last year, but 58% below the 60,000 colonies during the October-December 2020 quarter.

According to the USDA, producers boosted their January 1 inventory by moving colonies into Wisconsin and adding colonies to a maximum of 37,000 during the January-March 2021 quarter.

Honey bee colonies lost for operations with 5 or more colonies for the January-March 2021 quarter was 2,500 colonies or 7%. Since January 2020 the largest percentage of the colonies lost, at 13%, occurred in the October-December 2020 quarter. The largest number of colonies lost was 8,000 colonies and occurred in both the July-September 2020 and the October-December 2020 quarters.

Varroa mites were the number one stressor for operations with 5 or more colonies from January 2020 thru March 2021. During the April-June 2021 quarter, producers reported that pesticides were the leading stressor at 22.3% of colonies.


One dies following plane crash in cornfield

One of two people injured when a small plane crashed in Washington County has died, according to sheriff's officials. 

The woman who later died and a man were hurt when their plane crashed in a cornfield Saturday west of the Hartford Municipal Airport. 

The man and woman were taken to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa and Aurora Medical Center in Summit, respectively, following the crash. The sheriff's office on Sunday reported that the woman had died.

The woman, who was reportedly unconscious, had to be extricated from the plane, according to the release. The victims were not identified. 


Tyson Foods mandates vaccines for workforce

Meatpacker Tyson Foods announced Tuesday that it will require its 120,000 U.S. employees to be vaccinated fully this year and will pay them a $200 bonus to do so.

The company said 56,000 U.S. employees have been vaccinated. Office workers face a deadline of Oct. 1 to be vaccinated fully, while plant employees have until Nov. 1, Reuters reported.

Tyson plans to give front-line workers who get vaccinated the $200 bonus, in addition to the current policy of providing up to four hours of pay for getting inoculated outside of work or through an external provider. The extra pay, as well as the deadline, are subject to talks with unions who represent those employees.

The United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents 24,000 Tyson workers, said that it will be meeting with Tyson in the coming weeks to discuss the mandate and make sure that the workers’ rights are protected. 

Tyson said it will allow exceptions to the vaccine mandate for medical or religious reasons.


Certificate in dairy processing begins Sept. 2

The Center for Dairy Research (CDR) is offering Certificate in Dairy Processing, an online dairy industry training program, beginning September 2. This 10-week online course is geared towards anyone who needs a clear understanding of dairy plant processes.

Administered by CDR and led by some of the leading experts in the field, this training program will use a practical applications approach to educate students on the basic aspects of dairy processing. During the 10-week program, a new live-streamed lecture/discussion session will be held each Thursday afternoon from 3-5pm (CT) from Sept. 2 to Nov. 11.

The deadline to register is August 15. For more information or to register visit:


4 horses test positive for Potomac horse fever

Tennessee officials say four horses have tested positive for a bacterial illness known as Potomac horse fever. 

Tennessee's Department of Agriculture confirmed cases in Hawkins, Robertson and Sullivan counties, in addition to a Wilson County case announced earlier this month in which the horse had to be euthanized. 

State Veterinarian Samantha Beaty says transmission is preventable with vaccines and environmental management.

The fever is caused by bacteria believed to be carried by aquatic snail larvae and other organisms, including flies. The department says the fever is not contagious between horses and doesn't threaten human health.

Beaty says horses near bodies of water or low-lying areas that could collect stagnant water are at risk. The department suggests providing clean drinking water and turning off insect-attracting stable lights at night.

Signs of infection — including anorexia, diarrhea, colic, fever and laminitis — can show within two to 18 days after ingestion. They can be fatal if untreated.


Bayer to pull glyphosate from U.S. lawn and garden markets

Bayer officials announced last week that the company is removing glyphosate from the U.S. residential lawn and garden marketplace, effective as early as January 2023.

That is the earliest the decision could be implemented, according to Liam Condon, president of the Bayer Crop Science Division and a member of the Bayer AG board of management.

“This is from a regulatory and logistical point of view (of what’s) possible,” Condon said during a conference call with investors.

Farm Journal reported that the company will replace glyphosate in the lawn and garden marketplace with what Condon described as active ingredients that are already known and well-established.

More than 90% of the Roundup litigation claims Bayer has faced in recent years have come from the U.S. residential lawn and garden market business segment and is what led to the company deciding to abandon it, according to Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG.


EU extends tariffs on U.S. biodiesel for five years

The European Union will retain its tariffs on U.S. biodiesel for a further five years after concluding that removing them would likely lead to a surge of imports at artificially low prices, Reuters reported.

The tariffs, dating back to 2009, will be extended until 2026, the EU official journal said on Monday.

The European Commission, which reviewed the case, concluded that U.S. producers could increase to full capacity and also divert sales from some of their exports from less profitable markets to the European Union, the world's largest market.

It said U.S. producers were already selling to third countries at prices below those in the United States, meaning they were being dumped.

It also said U.S. producers were benefiting from subsidies, including tax credits, grants and loan guarantees.


Blackberry Sheep Milk Yogurt selected winner in GH 2021 Healthy Snack Awards

Bellwether Farms' Blackberry Sheep Milk Yogurt has won a spot in the coveted Good Housekeeping 2021 Healthy Snack Awards under the Smooth & Creamy Hits category.

The Blackberry Sheep Milk Yogurt is made with whole sheep milk, is probiotic, contains active/beneficial cultures, and is packed with A2 protein, making it better for people who don't tolerate cow milk. The yogurt is flavored with fruit selected from the Oregon Columbia River area, according to PRN Newswire.

The product is available at grocery stores nationwide. Founded in 1986 in Sonoma County, family-owned and operated Bellwether Farms crafts dairy products using whole, full-fat sheep's milk and cow's milk. 

SEOUL, South Korea

Seoul: North Korea releases army rice reserves amid shortage

North Korea is releasing emergency military rice reserves as its food shortage worsens, South Korea's spy agency said Tuesday, with a heat wave and drought reducing the country's supply.

North Korea's reported food problems come as its moribund economy continues to be battered by the protracted COVID-19 pandemic. While mass starvation and social chaos have not been reported, observers expect a further deterioration of North Korea's food situation until the autumn harvest.

Seoul's National Intelligence Service told a closed-door parliamentary committee meeting that North Korea is supplying rice reserved for wartime use to citizens with little food, other laborers and rural state agencies, according to Ha Tae-keung, one of the lawmakers who attended the session.

Ha cited the NIS as saying an ongoing heat wave and drought have wiped out rice, corn and other crops and killed livestock in North Korea.

Another lawmaker, Kim Byung-kee, quoted the NIS as saying that North Korea normally needs about 5.5 million tons of food to feed its 26 million people but is currently short 1 million tons. He said the NIS told the lawmakers that North Korea is running out of its grain stockpiles.


WI's state fruit debuts new product at State Fair

With opening day of the 2021 Wisconsin State Fair this week, the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA) knows there’s one thing on every fairgoer’s mind – the food.

WSCGA will debut a new way for cran-fans to enjoy Wisconsin’s State Fruit during this year’s festivities. In partnership with O&H Danish Bakery, WSCGA will offer a new product – the Cranberry Cake Pop – at its booth in the Wisconsin Products Pavilion.

The tasty treat features layers of yellow cake sandwiching 4 layers of cranberry filling, and dipped in chocolate ganache all on a stick! The dessert offers the perfect mix of sweet and tart flavors and joins other Fair favorites on WSCGA’s menu board this year.

Other cranberry food products for the 2021 Fair include the famous State Fair Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookie, dried cranberry snack packs, cranberry juice cocktail and other beverages.