Ag Briefs: Wildlife officials propose 130-wolf limit for fall hunt

Wisconsin State Farmer
Wisconsin briefs

MADISON, WI

Wildlife officials propose 130-wolf limit for fall hunt

Wisconsin wildlife officials are proposing limiting the number of wolves hunters can kill this fall to 130 animals, saying they want to take a conservative approach because the impact of a rushed February hunt on the population remains unclear.

State law requires the Department of Natural Resources to hold an annual wolf hunt between November and February. The state held three seasons in 2012, 2013 and 2014 before wolves were re-listed on the endangered species list, Associated Press reported. 

The DNR was preparing to hold a hunt beginning in November 2021 but a hunter advocacy group won a court order forcing the department to launch a season in February in which hunters killed 218 wolves in four days, nearly 100 animals over the 119 quota.

The working limit for state-licensed hunters could be lower than 130; Wisconsin's Chippewa tribes are entitled to claim up to 50% of the quota across the ceded territory, a huge swath of northern Wisconsin the tribes handed over to the government in the 1800s.

PRAIRIE DU SAC, WI

WI FFA member second in Culver's Essay Contest

A member of the Randolph Cambria Friesland FFA was the second place winner in the seventh annual Culver's Essay Contest, which awards three students $15,000 for their respective FFA chapters.

Identified as Gwen H., will share $5,000 with her chapter. Her essay highlighted the resilience farmers have been forced to demonstrate during the pandemic and how that quality can be leveraged moving forward.

“I have observed the struggles of losing profit instead of gaining, and know the effect it has on those who have worked day and night for something they believe in. We can all take a step back and learn a few things about resiliency from those who provide the food for us on the table,” she wrote.

Other winners include: First place ($7,500): Katlyn M., Clyde FFA in Clyde, Ohio and third place ($2,500): Dilyn B., Elkmont FFA in Elkmont, Alabama.

ARLINGTON, WI

UW Organic Ag Field Day to highlight organic grain research

Demand for organic grain continues to increase, with prices for organic soybeans reaching $30 per bushel. While requiring a different approach to management than conventional production, growing organic grain offers a profitable opportunity for Wisconsin’s farmers at both smaller and larger scales.

Research relating to organic grain production will be a key focus of this year’s UW Organic Agriculture Field Day, set for 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 24 at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arlington Agricultural Research Station, N695 Hopkins Rd.

The event will also feature research presentations focused on breeding crops specifically for organic operations, including cover crop-based systems.

Researchers will also give updates on long-term organic management trials; organic no-till corn and soybeans using a variety of cover crop and planting options; organic corn and cereal grain breeding efforts; and KernzaⓇ (perennial wheat).

The registration table at the UW Organic Agriculture Field Day will open at 9:45 a.m. on Aug. 24. A lunch will be available around noon. RSVPs are requested to be sent to Erin Silva at emsilva@wisc.edu.

MAUSTON, WI

Wisconsin River Meats to expand

David Mauer and John Hamm, owners of Wisconsin River Meats, announced the expansion of their rural Mauston facility, which will add over 7,000 square feet to the facility, and will include production, retail, cold storage space and a loading dock.

The expansion includes a newly expanded retail area, a state of the art sausage kitchen and smoke room with two double truck smokehouses that will double capacity to produce smoked meat products, additional cold storage capacity as well as remodeling to the current facility.

The facility expansion will improve Wisconsin River Meat’s ability to positively react to supply chain disruptions, as it did successfully during the 2020 pandemic. Completion of construction is slated for late fall of 2021.

MADISON, WI

Farmland values creep upward

Wisconsin’s farm real estate value, a measurement of the value of all land and buildings on farms, averaged $5,190 per acre in 2021, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Land Values 2021 Summary. This was up $340 per acre, 7% above last year’s level.

Cropland value, at $5,280 per acre, was up $510 from a year ago. Pasture, at $2,520 per acre, was up $270 from last year.

Cropland cash rent paid to Wisconsin landlords in 2021 averaged $138.00 per acre, according to the agency. Non-irrigated cropland rent averaged $133.00 per acre, down $5.00 from last year. Irrigated cropland rent averaged $237.00 per acre, down $8.00 from 2020.

Pasture rented for cash averaged $37.00 per acre, up $2.00 from the previous year.

DES MOINES, IA

Animal rights groups sue over latest Iowa farm trespass law

A group of animal rights and public interest groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the latest Iowa law designed to criminalize investigations into animal treatment on livestock farms, Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges violations of First Amendment free speech rights. It asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional and issue an order preventing officials from enforcing it.

It is the third attempt by Republican lawmakers to outlaw farm investigations. The law signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds in June makes trespassing at a food operation an aggravated misdemeanor that carries up to two years in prison and a fine of $8,540. A second offense is a felony that carries up to five years behind bars.

Lawmakers say they increased the penalties for trespassing at livestock operations to protect farmers from harassment and deter intrusions that threaten the safety of the state's multibillion-dollar agriculture industry.

The legal challenge is the ninth lawsuit the coalition has filed in various states to challenge so-called ag-gag laws. The lawsuits have successfully struck down laws in North Carolina, Kansas, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. North Carolina and Kansas have appealed and decisions are pending. 

BOSCOBEL, WI

Tornado in Grant County destroys, damages farm buildings

Residents of Grant County are cleaning up debris Sunday after a tornado touched down near Boscobel destroying or damaging homes and farm outbuildings. 

Initial damage assessments by fire departments in the area indicate six homes were destroyed, five had major damage and ten had minor damage from the storm that hit Saturday night. 

As for barns and sheds, 11 outbuildings were destroyed, ten received major damage and two had minor damage.

The tornado touched down near the Boscobel city limits and traveled southeast roughly four miles, according to the Associated Press. 

CHIPPEWA FALLS, WI

Industrial hemp field days set

The UW-Madison Extension Offices of Buffalo, Chippewa and Monroe Counties will host Industrial Hemp Field Days in August.

The three meetings will be held: Aug. 17, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Cooke Valley Road and Theisen Ridge Rd. (GPS Coordinates 44.407302.-91.567359). For more info: 608-685-6256;  Aug. 18, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., Chippewa County Farm, Beach Drive east of Seymour Cray Blvd, Chippewa Falls. For more info: 715-726-7950;  Aug. 25, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., 16250 Helmet Rd, Tomah, for more info: 608-269-8722

UW Extension speakers include: Carl Duley, Buffalo Co., “Variety Selection and Sourcing”; Jerry Clark, Chippewa Co. “Seeding Rates and Nitrogen Management”

Bill Halfman, Monroe Co., “Industrial Hemp Production Costs”; Ashley Olson, Vernon Co. “Using Industrial Hemp as Potential Forage” and Shelby Ellison, Asst.Professor, Dept. of Horticulture, “Industrial Hemp Processing and Market Development”.

The event is free. For more information contact one of the Extension Offices at 608-685-6256 (Buffalo County), 715-726-7950 (Chippewa County), or 608-269-8722 (Monroe County).

SACREMENTO, CA

Mega-drought to impact food prices

The prolonged drought in the western U.S., particularly California may send food prices upward. California produces “over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts” and much of its dairy products, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

As farmers fight for water, multiple types of food could increase in price due to this megadrought, particularly water-intensive crops such as lettuce, sushi rice and tree nuts. Already avocado prices are up 10 percent, according to Gizmodo.

Dairy and beef prices may also be affected due to shortages in forage crops that require high moisture levels. 

Experts say that due to Lake Mead’s water supply being so low, it would take at least three wet years to bring it back above drought levels. 

ENCINO, TX

Vehicle carrying migrants crashes; 10 dead

An overloaded van carrying 29 migrants crashed Aug. 4 on a remote South Texas highway, killing at least 10 people, including the driver, and injuring 20 others, Associated Press reported.

The crash happened shortly after 4 p.m. on U.S. 281 in Encino, Texas, about 50 miles north of McAllen. The van, designed to hold 15 passengers, was speeding as the driver tried to veer off the highway onto Business Route 281. He lost control of the top-heavy van, which slammed into a metal utility pole and a stop sign.

The van was not being pursued, said Brooks County Sheriff Urbino Martinez.

The sheriff said he believed all of the passengers were migrants. He also said the 20 who survived the initial crash all have serious to critical injuries.

A surge in migrants crossing the border illegally has brought about an uptick in the number of crashes involving vehicles jammed with migrants who pay large amounts to be smuggled into the country. The Dallas Morning News reported that the recruitment of young drivers for the smuggling runs, combined with excessive speed and reckless driving by those youths, have led to horrific crashes.

BISMARK, N.D.

North Dakota officials report 1st case of anthrax in cattle

North Dakota agriculture officials are warning producers to monitor their livestock after the first case of anthrax was confirmed earlier this week.

The disease was reported in cattle in a Kidder County beef herd. Officials say producers in the county and surrounding areas should check with their veterinarians to see if they should start vaccinating their cattle for anthrax, Associated Press reported.

Anthrax vaccines are readily available, but it takes about a week to establish immunity, and the vaccine must be administered annually.

Anthrax is caused by bacterial spores that can lie dormant in the ground until they are activated by heavy rains, flooding or drought.