Ag Briefs: 48 milking cows lost in Stearns County blaze

Wisconsin State Farmer
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48 milking cows lost in Stearns County blaze

An early morning barn fire took the dairy facility and all the milking cows housed within on Jan. 4 near St. Rosa, Minnesota. 

Glenn Heinen and his son, Aron, who dairy together, lost their dairy facility and their 48 milking cows in the blaze. Heinen was alerted of the disaster around 5:30 a.m. when a neighbor passing by saw the fire, Dairy Star reported. 

When Heinen got out the door there were flames coming out of the hay barn door and the barn was totally engulfed. When the fire departments of Freeport, Melrose, Albany and Grey Eagle arrived, they found the fire was concentrated more to the middle of the tiestall barn but was spreading quickly.

The family was able to save some calves and 36 heifers. The barn and about 3500 small square hay bales were lost along with the milking herd. The fire remains under investigation.


UW-River Falls cancels ADSA conference

The Dairy Science Club at UW-River Falls has announced it will cancel its Midwest Regional American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) Conference amid COVID-19 concerns for the second consecutive year. The conference was scheduled for January 28th-30th, 2022.

The ADSA committee is considering hosting a virtual event later this year for dairy clubs that would have otherwise been in attendance, according to the Midwest Farm Report.


Equity Lomira market receives organic certification

Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Assoc. announced that its Lomira market is now certified organic. Approval was granted by Nature’s International Certification Services (NICS), USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP).

Lomira joins the cooperative’s Altoona, Bonduel, Sparta and Stratford markets that already provide organic cattle sales.

Lomira’s organic livestock sales will be every Monday starting Jan. 24, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. Organic producers are asked to call Lomira at 920-269-4351 for additional information. Producers are reminded to bring in their organic certificate with their first load.


Taco Bell unveils dairy-based beverage with Checkoff support

Taco Bell is continuing its run of dairy-based beverages thanks to dairy checkoff support. The chain released the Island Berry Freeze that uses a shelf-stable creamer created by dairy checkoff scientists.

It is Taco Bell’s third beverage launch featuring the dairy creamer, beginning with the Pineapple Whip Freeze in May of 2020 and the Mountain Dew Baja Blast Colada Freeze last May. The newest product is available at participating restaurants through March 12.

Another popular Taco Bell item – the Grilled Cheese Burrito – is back on the menu. The burrito features a blend of mozzarella, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses in addition to reduced-fat sour cream.


Border agents seize bushmeat at Minneapolis airport

U.S. customs agents say they’ve confiscated bushmeat multiple times at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport since December.

WCCO-TV reported

Last week Customs and Border Patrol officers seized more than 100 lbs. of bushmeat from U.S. citizens returning from Liberia.

The travelers said on written and verbal declarations they had fish but further inspection revealed both fish and bushmeat in the same package.

State ag officials say bushmeat is raw or minimally processed meat from wild animals such as monkeys, cane rats, bats and other primates. The meat can cause infection in humans and spread the Ebola virus. The confiscated meat was destroyed.


New Assembly committee on Trade, Supply Chain formed

In an effort to support Wisconsin businesses, families and persons impacted by trade and supply chain issues, Assembly Republicans have spearheaded the creation of a Special Committee on Trade and Supply Chain, Wisconsin Ag Connection reported.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says Rep. Rob Brooks of Saukville will chair the group, with Alex Dallman from Green Lake serving as vice chair. Other members of the panel include Reps. Nancy VanderMeer, Tomah; Dave Armstrong, Rice Lake; John Spiros, Marshfield; Warren Petryk, Town of Washington; and Michael Schraa, Oshkosh.

The committee will focus on the relationship between the labor shortage and supply chain interruptions and the impacts and barriers this creates for businesses and consumers. The group will also examine the disruptions in production and distribution of products over the last two years, the lack of workers in the labor market, and Wisconsin's role in recovering.


WI Farm Bureau represented at national level

Wisconsin Farm Bureau members attended the American Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention, Jan. 7-12 in Atlanta, Ga. Kevin Krentz was re-elected to serve a two-year term on AFBF’s Board of Directors. Krentz was first elected president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and Rural Mutual Insurance Company in 2020. Krentz is a dairy farmer from Berlin in Waushara County.

Julie Wadzinski from Barron County made it to the Final 4 Round of American Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet in which individuals are judged on their ability to express their ideas and opinions and reach a solution on current issues affecting agriculture.

Andrea Brossard serves as the vice-chair of American Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education Committee. Brossard was re-appointed by AFBF to its Promotion and Education Committee for a two-year term last year and continues to serve that term.


Bankers survey: Rural economy stays strong in 10 states

The economy in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states remains strong, according to a new monthly survey of bankers in the region released Thursday, but those bankers said they have growing concerns about the rising costs associated with running farms. 

The overall Rural Mainstreet economic index fell in January to 61.1 from December's 66.7. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy.

"Solid grain prices, the Federal Reserve's record-low short-term interest rates, and growing agricultural exports have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet Economy," Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, said.

Bankers surveyed listed their top concern for farmers in 2022 as rising inflation that's driving up the prices of farm supplies, from fuel to fertilizer. Disruptions of the delivery of farm supplies ranked second among bankers' concerns, and rising interest rates ranked third.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.


Wisconsin Agribusiness Classic honors 2021 WABA award recipients

After a virtual event last year due to Coronavirus restrictions, the Wisconsin Agri-Business Association's 2022 Wisconsin Agribusiness Classic to an in-person event which attracted 900 attendees.

During the event, WABA recegnized the following recipients of the 2021 WABA Awards: Distinguished Organization Award (for exemplary industry professionalism): Premier Cooperative; Education Award (for leadership and commitment to educational excellence): Amber Radatz and Eric Cooley, Co-Directors, Discovery Farms; Outstanding Service to Industry (for dedication and support to WABA and its members): Scott Firlus, United Cooperative; Friend of WABA Award: Lori Bowman, (retired) Director, Agrichemical Management Bureau, Wisconsin DATCP; President’s Service Award (for dedication, service and leadership): Rob Evans, Rosen’s Inc.and Board Member Service Award (for full-term Board of Directors service): Bruce Ceranske, Legacy Seeds, Inc.


Snowbirds invited to Dairy Old-Timers Breakfast at Florida State Fair

Wisconsin snowbird Larry Hawkins is inviting snowbirds from the dairy state to join them at the Dairy Old-timers Breakfast at the Florida State Fair in Tampa on Feb. 21 at 7:15 a.m.

For over 35 years, dairy snowbirds have gathered at the Florida State Fair for the event, drawing dairy-minded attendees from nearly 20 states and Canada.

To register for the breakfast, call 800-345-3247 and ask for the AG Business Dept. Those attending the event can pay at the door and enter through the red livestock gate off of Orient Road on the west side of the fairgrounds. The $15 fee includes breakfast and admission. 

This year's speaker is Steve Winnington of Worldwide Sires. For more information call Gary Mithoefer at 317-225-9025 or Larry Hawkins at 608-516-0101 or


EPA shifts policy to fully comply with ESA

The Environmental Protection Agency says it is now taking more steps to comply with the Endangered Species Act when evaluating and registering new pesticide active ingredients.

EPA says this new policy will reverse decades of practice by consistently assessing the potential effects of conventional pesticides on listed species when registering new active ingredients.

Brownfield Ag News reported that the EPA noted the new policy (effective Jan. 11, ’22) should reduce litigation against the agency for insufficient protections of endangered species AND improve the legal defensibility of new active ingredients which the agency says “often have lower human health and ecological risks than older pesticides.”

EPA says it will provide several mitigation options for growers, where possible, to allow flexibility while protecting listed species.


New Ag Enterprise Areas designated in 2022

Two new Agricultural Enterprise Areas in Douglas and Buffalo County have been designated this year. Local communities can voluntarily pursue designation of an AEA by submitting a petition to the Wisconsin DATCP. Through this designation, the community can encourage continued agricultural production and investment in the agricultural economy.

As of Jan. 1, 2022, DATCP has designated over 62,000 acres of lands as AEAs in Douglas and Buffalo Counties in response to 2021 petitions. Northern Douglas County AEA, Douglas County covers 32,881 acres in the towns Parkland, Amnicon, Cloverland, Lakeside, Maple and village of Poplar. This is the first AEA for Douglas County.

The other new AEA, Montana Society for Responsible Land Use AEA, Buffalo County covers 29,751 acres in the town of Montana. This is the first AEA for Buffalo County.


Gov. signs order to help recruit truckers to deliver milk

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Tuesday signed an emergency order meant to ease a shortage of truck drivers to deliver milk to schools, businesses and other customers.

The edict waives hours of service requirements for truck drivers for 30 days, which follows a decision by the state's milk marketing board to waive enforcement of certain licensing requirements until April 1.

The measures come after a major milk distributor in North Dakota went out of business, due in part to a lack of certified drivers. More than 50 school districts were at risk of losing milk deliveries, officials said.

Burgum said it's a temporary fix until officials can figure out how "to get government out of the way" and get more drivers in the workforce.

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says the state has adequate production and processing of milk, "Our concerns lie with access to containers for processors, labor issues within the supply chain and a major shortage of drivers."


Labor, trucking issues could create logistical challenges

A study from the American Trucking Association says the industry is short nearly 80,000 truck drivers and a fertilizer supplier says that creates logistical challenges for delivery.

Paul Gerdes with CHS tells Brownfield Ag News the shortage creates a backup in the supply chain, and it could be difficult to transport inputs to farmers this spring. 

Gerdes says delivery issues will likely cause fertilizer prices to climb even higher this spring.