Ag Briefs: Lawmakers push for COOL labeling once more

Wisconsin State Farmer
Midwest briefs


Registration open for Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch

Looking for a fun way to support Wisconsin farmers and the state’s farm to institution activities? If yes, sign up for the eighth annual Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch.

The event, which takes place at noon on Thursday, Oct. 14 this year, involves hundreds of thousands of “crunchers” at schools, early care sites, colleges and hospitals across Wisconsin and the region all biting into locally-grown apples at the same time to create the “crunch heard around the region.”

It’s simple and easy to participate. Register at, purchase local apples, and make your crunch plans for Oct. 14. Participants are encouraged to take photos of their crunch and share them on social media and with their school and community.

The Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch is a project of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) at UW–Madison. For more information, contact Vanessa Herald at or (608) 263-6064.


DATCP’s "Rural Realities" podcast returns for second season

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP) Farm Center kicks off the second season of its “Rural Realities” podcast. The first episode features Amanda Harguth, AgrAbility of Wisconsin outreach specialist, who will discuss how AgrAbility can help farmers with disabilities continue farming.

“Farmers face many complex issues and challenges that can cause stress,” said Dan Bauer, DATCP’s Farm Center supervisor. “Through this podcast, we are able to bring information and resources to farmers that can help them overcome these challenges, in an easily accessible format they can listen to on their own schedule.”

According to the Farm Center, the second season will focus on reducing the stigma surrounding mental health in rural communities, providing information and resources on stress management, and helping farmers sustain healthy businesses. 

The pre-recorded podcasts run between 20-30 minutes and feature a different expert each episode. Podcasts are produced by Bill Baker, who also hosts the syndicated radio program, Dairy Radio Now.

Podcast episodes are available at


Dairy Goat Academy signup approaching

The 2021 Dairy Goat Academy will be held Sept. 24 at Southwest Tech in Fennimore, WI. This year's event features presentations for  meat and dairy goat producers as well as a vendor fair.

The event begins at 8 a.m. with registration followed by a keynote presentation from Chilton Dairy. A virtual tour of a meat goat farm will follow along with presentations on public relations, products made with goat milk, veterinary care, environmental sustainability and a producer panel. 

To view schedule and to enroll visit


Lawsuit: Farm hired white immigrants over Black US laborers

Six Black farmworkers in Mississippi say in a new lawsuit that their former employer brought white laborers from South Africa to do the same jobs they were doing, and that the farm has been violating federal law by paying the white immigrants more for the same type of work.

Associated Press reported that the Mississippi Center for Justice and Southern Migrant Legal Services filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of the six workers against Pitts Farm Partnership, which grows cotton, soybeans and corn in the Mississippi Delta's Sunflower County. 

The lawsuit said the farm violated regulations of a foreign worker visa program, which requires equal treatment of U.S. workers and their immigrant counterparts. It seeks an unspecified amount in damages, including money the U.S. workers say they were shorted because of the uneven pay scale.


Invasive Japanese beetles threaten Yakima Valley growers

Thousands of invasive Japanese beetles have been caught in the Lower Yakima Valley this summer and pose a threat to the agricultural industry.

Last year, traps across the state caught three beetles. This year, more than 23,500 have been captured since late June, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported. Most were found in the Grandview area but some have made it to Sunnyside, WSDA agricultural aide Nasario Gonzalez said.

There are 1,900 traps statewide, most in Grandview. Adult beetles will eat more than 300 types of plants, including foliage, roses, grapes and hops —all the crops that make money in the area.


Lawmakers push for COOL labeling once more

For nearly two decades, varying politicians have been trying to establish a long-standing ruling regarding beef products: Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL). On Sept. 8, 2021 U.S Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), John Thune (R-SD), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced new legislation that would again aim to mandate country of origin labeling for beef products, .AgDaily reported.

This new act, titled the American Beef Labeling Act, would amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946.

Popular beef organizations have been divided on whether country of origin labeling should be mandated by the government or be a part of voluntary programs operated by the industry itself. MCOOL essentially requires products sold at retail — like in grocery stores, but not in restaurants — to verify and label products as “Product of United States” or “Born, raised, and processed in the US” or other similar phrases.

The legislation has hit pitfalls with producers claiming the verification process is costly, while trade partners Canada and Mexico said the legislation violated trade agreements and could result in tariffs.


Grain exports sink as Gulf terminals struggle to recover from Ida

U.S. grain exports slumped to their lowest level in years last week as shippers struggled to restart loading operations along the Louisiana Gulf Coast after Hurricane Ida flooded and damaged grain terminals and knocked out power across the region, preliminary data showed on Monday.

Weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grain inspections data, an early indicator of shipments abroad, showed the volume of corn weighed and certified for export last week was the lowest in 8-1/2 years as no grain was inspected along the Louisiana Gulf Coast, the busiest outlet for U.S. crops, Reuters reported.

Soybean inspections were up only slightly from the prior week's seven-year low as only a single large bulk grain ship bound for top importer China was loaded last week in the Pacific Northwest and none at the Gulf, USDA data showed.

Ida crippled overseas grain shipments just weeks before the start of the Midwest harvest and the busiest period for U.S. crop exports, sending export prices soaring and stoking global worries about food inflation.


WI members to reap honors at National FFA Convo

Several Wisconsin adults and youth will be recognized at the National FFA Convention in Expo this fall. Adults receiving being honored include: Jeff Hicken, the late Wisconson FFA advisor and DPI Ag Ed Consultant will receive the VIP citation; receiving the Honorary American FFA Degree includes Glenda Crook, Columbus High School FFA advisor and ag educator, Ryan Schaefer, Case IH, Racine, retiring National FFA Sponsors Board Member; Michelle Stuttgen, Culver Franchising System, LLC, Prairie du Sac, retiring National FFA Sponsors Board Member; Alison Wedig, Culver Franchising System LLC, Prairie du Sac; Doris Mold, Sunrise Agricultural Associates, University of Minnesota Professor, Cumberland.

Wisconsin FFA Members selected for National FFA Band and Chorus: band - Audrey Bigler, Barron; Mark Wanek, Denmark; Allison Loosen, Slinger; and Mary Lewandowski, Wittenberg-Birnamwood. Chorus - Hannah Nelsen, Denmark; Riley Siegfried, Shawano and Makenna Kunz, Waupun.