Ag Briefs: Meat plant destroyed in blaze

Wisconsin State Farmer
Midwest briefs


Trial for Diemel brothers' alleged killer delayed

A Missouri man charged with killing two brothers from Wisconsin will not go to trial until March of next year, a judge has ruled.

Associated Press reported that Garland Nelson, of Braymer, faces two counts of first-degree murder and other charges in the deaths of Justin and Nicholas Diemel, of Shawano County, Wisconsin, in 2019. He has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, Nelson could face the death penalty. 

Nelson's trial was scheduled to begin in June. But Johnson County Circuit Judge Michael Wagner granted a motion from Nelson's attorneys to delay the trial until March, The St. Joseph News-Press reported.

Nelson's attorneys filed a motion last week saying that Nelson had not had time to meet with his psychiatrist. 

The Diemel brothers disappeared after visiting Nelson's farm on July 21, 2019, to discuss a $250,000 debt Nelson owed them. Their burned remains were later found in Missouri and Nebraska.


Meat plant destroyed in blaze

The cause of a fire that destroyed a large portion of Wisconsin River Meats in Mauston last week remains under investigation. Co-owner David Mauer told WKOW that livestock that was housed in the building were safely evacuated. Venison orders were not impacted in the blaze.

Mauer says they are operating the office out of the warehouse and that they are processing customer orders thanks to Crescent Meats in Cadott offering room for Wisconsin River Meats' staff to work.

Mauer told members of the media that there were plans to rebuild following the loss and hoped no employees would lose jobs as a result of the fire.


WCGA announce 2021 Corn Yield Contest winners

During the Wisconsin Corn/Soy Expo, the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association (WCGA) named the 2021 Wisconsin Corn Yield Contest winners.

Winners were selected from five geographical divisions – the Northern and Southern divisions plus three county-specific divisions. The county-specific divisions were based on active county corn grower associations and included: Columbia, Dodge-Fond Du Lac, and Rock.The winning entries had the highest corn yield based on bushels per acre.

The 2021 winners are: Rock County Corn Growers—Nick Veneble, Janesville, 259.2227 bu/acre. Northern Wisconsin—Jeff Laskowski, Plover, 290.6533 bu/acre; Barb Laskowski, Plover, 276.3010 bu/acre and Ben Augustine, Sheldon, 250.17041 bu/acre. Southern Wisconsin—the late Scott Berget, Gratiot, 322.0204 bu/acre; Kevin Bahr, Darlington, 303.8546 bu/acre and Dan Leahy, Cuba City, 296.9095 bu/acre

The contest was organized to encourage the development of new and innovative management practices, using sound agronomic practices in Wisconsin corn production systems. To be eligible, entrants must be a WCGA member in good standing and the contest entry must be from a field of corn 10 or more acres in size of one variety. 


Dairy Lab Services to merge with CentralStar Coop

For the second time in less than a year, CentralStar Cooperative is expanding its DHI and milk-analysis services. On Jan. 25, 2022, the board of directors and delegates of Dairy Lab Services (DLS), a national Dairy Herd Information (DHI) milk-testing association and lab in Dubuque, IA, approved merging into CentralStar effective March 1.

With this merger, CentralStar Cooperative will become one of the largest DHI organizations in the country, working with more than 1,900 producers and 642,000 cows across the Midwest.

In time, sample processing will move from the DLS lab to the CentralStar laboratory in Kaukauna, Wis.


Compeer Financial to return $202M to member-owners in 2022

Compeer Financial and its board of directors announced the organization will be returning approximately $202M in patronage payments to member-owners in 2022. Member-owners received the first payment of $52 million this month.  

Approximately 32,000 checks will be sent to farmers, rural homeowners and others with ag-related business in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The February payment of $52M reflects equities allocated to member-owners for business they conducted before Compeer Financial was formed in July 2017. The organization will issue a second patronage payment totaling $150M in August for business member-owners had with Compeer Financial in 2021.

The $202M being paid out in 2022 represents approximately 42% of Compeer Financial’s 2021 adjusted earnings – and is an increase of $5 million compared to the prior year.


FFA Alumni honors members, chapters during State Convention

Terri Wilfert of Mishicot was elected the new president of the Wisconsin FFA Alumni & Supporters during the group's annual convention last weekend. Members and chapters recognized include: Weyauwega-Fremont FFA Alumni earning Outstanding Chapter Award in the small division, with Waupaca and Granton earning top honors for medium and large areas, respectively. National Outstanding Chapter honors were also presented to the Denmark and Granton programs, Wisconsin Ag Connection reported.

The media outlet reported that this year's recipients of Outstanding Achievement Awards were presented to Matt Wavrunek, Denmark; Charlotte Johnson, Granton; and Angela Baeten, Oconto Falls. Sue Slotty from Sauk Prairie was tapped as the Team Ag Ed Contributor award for her support of FFA, FFA Alumni and Agriculture Education.

Outstanding Agriculture Educator Awards winners were Troy Talford and Sally Ladsten, Sauk Prairie; Daniel Robinson, Lomira; Marty Nowak, Denmark; Mariah Markhardt and Walter Taylor, Oconto Falls; and Katie Reider, Granton.

And the group honored BJ Chrisler from Sauk Prairie with its Outstanding Young Member Award.


Tyson Foods' higher meat prices nearly doubles profits

Tyson Foods shares climbed more than 11% to an all-time high on Monday after the company reported that first-quarter profits nearly doubled due to soaring U.S. meat prices, CNBC reported.

Shares rebounded from a one-month low on Friday to reach a record $99.20, up 14% from the start of the year.

The surge reflects strong demand and high prices for Tyson’s beef, pork and chicken, as U.S. labor shortages have limited production.

Tyson and three other industry giants slaughter about 85% of the nation's cattle.


American ag exports shattered records in 2021

The American agricultural industry posted its highest annual export levels ever recorded in 2021, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced today.

The final 2021 trade data published by the Department of Commerce shows that exports of U.S. farm and food products to the world totaled $177 billion, topping the 2020 total by 18 percent and eclipsing the previous record, set in 2014, by 14.6 percent.

The U.S.’s top 10 export markets all saw gains in 2021, with six of the 10 – China, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines and Colombia – setting new records, USDA reported.

Worldwide exports of many U.S. products, including soybeans, corn, beef, pork, dairy, distillers grains and pet food, also reached all-time highs. China remained the top export destination, with a record $33 billion in purchases, up 25 percent from 2020, while Mexico inched ahead of Canada to capture the number two position with a record $25.5 billion, up 39 percent from last year.


House passes bill aimed at boosting U.S. competitiveness with China

The House passed a bill Friday that Democrats say will increase U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and boost American competitiveness with China, NPR reported.

The America Competes Act passed 222-210, largely along party lines.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the bill "will ensure that America is preeminent in manufacturing, innovation and economic strength and can outcompete any nation."

The bill has a number of provisions, including $52 billion to make chips, $45 billion to improve supply chains for critical items and $160 billion for scientific research and innovation.

House Science Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, told NPR that a major federal infusion in research is badly overdue — especially to help the U.S. go toe-to-toe with China.

The legislation was also aimed at developing talent in the U.S. and fostering innovations in government labs that private companies could tap into for future products.


APP strikes Upper Midwest pig farms

Recent APP outbreaks in the Upper Midwest have resulted in increased morbidity and mortality across a pocket of production systems where it had previously been well controlled. For one veterinarian, seven sites in their system have had lateral APP breaks since November that have affected late finishing pigs. Evaluation shows these breaks are all APP type 15, Farm Journal reported.

The information was shared during a webinar offered by the Swine Health Information Center and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, hosted by the Iowa State University Swine Medicine Education Center. 

Some of the farms confirmed concurrent infection with the PRRS 1-4-4 strains leading up to the outbreak. 


Holstein America broadcasts Feb. 10 on RFD-TV

Now in its fifth season, Holstein America will air at 9 p.m. CST, Thurs., Feb. 10, on RFD-TV. The documentary series produced by Holstein Association USA is the only television program of its kind, paying tribute to the nation’s dairy farms and families.

“Through Holstein America, we are honored to share the heart and soul of the dairy business — its people, and their commitment to raising and caring for Registered Holsteins®,” says John Meyer, CEO of Holstein Association USA. “We hope you join us for their incredible story.”

The February 10 episode showcases the diversity of the U.S. Registered Holstein cow, and how she contributes to life in rural America and busy cities alike.


Poultry producers wary of bird flu's return to Minnesota

Minnesota's poultry producers are monitoring cases of bird flu found in wild birds in other parts of the United States and Canada. 

A state veterinarian says it's an early warning for producers in Minnesota ahead of the spring waterfowl migration.

"With the number of detections that they're picking up in essentially healthy wild birds, we know that it's circulating and that it's going to be present in those populations," said Minnesota Board of Animal Health senior veterinarian Shauna Voss. "I think it's not a matter of if it comes to Minnesota — it's when."

According to the state Agriculture Department, Minnesota has about 550 commercial turkey operations and more than 3,000 poultry farms. 

In a 2015 outbreak of avian influenza, 110 Minnesota farms were affected. About 9 million birds in Minnesota and 50 million across the country where killed by the virus, or euthanized in an effort to slow the spread of the disease, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.