Ag Briefs: US officials reverse course on pesticide's harm to wildlife

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs


New London FFA Alumni to sponsor toy & craft show

The New London FFA Alumni is hosting its 25th annual toy and craft show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, March 27, at the Crystal Falls Banquet Hall, 1500 Hanschke Dr., New London.

The event will feature farm scene displays, farm toys, models, books, collections and pictures as well as crafts. Attendees are invited to buy, sell and trade. The deadline to reserve tables is March 11.

Admission is $3 with those 10 and under being admitted free. For more information contact Joe Wettstein at 920-538-0292.


Russian Ministry recommends fertilizer producers halt exports

Russia’s trade and industry ministry has recommended the country’s fertilizer producers temporarily halt exports, the ministry said on Friday, in a sign that sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could have a global impact, Reuters reported.

Major international shipping groups including container lines this week suspended almost all cargo shipments to and from Russia to comply with the Western sanctions.

Russia is a major producer of potash, phosphate and nitrogen containing fertilizers – major crop and soil nutrients. It produces more than 50 million tonnes a year of the fertilizers, 13% of the global total.


WI dairy co-op offers membership to 80 Northeast farms

Wisconsin-based international organic milk cooperative Organic Valley is offering membership to 80 small organic farms in the Northeast that were poised to lose the market for their milk. The coop has already taken in 10 small farms in the area.

Last summer, Danone, the parent company of Horizon Organic, announced it would stop buying milk from 28 farms in Vermont and a total of 61 in Maine, New Hampshire and New York. The deadline was originally set for August, but it was later extended to February 2023.

Separately, a New York organic dairy announced it was terminating contracts with 46 organic farms in New York, Associated Press reported.

It's unclear how many of the remaining farms are still without a market for their milk.


Bubloz named to the WI Conservation Hall of Fame

Fox Cities businessman, senator Gordon Bubolz will be inducted into Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame. Bubolz, who died in 1990, with be memorialized in a virtual induction ceremony for his contributions to restore the river and for raising funds to preserve more than 4,600 acres of public land across the state. Bobolz saw value in the state’s natural resources and used his position to help clean up the waters. A conservationist at heart, Bubolz often said he felt the need to preserve the waters and land because “God doesn’t make it anymore.” He’ll join Alren Christenson and Kathleen Falk as 2022 inductees. 


March 15 marks deadline for several USDA programs, crop insurance

USDA wants to remind agricultural producers to contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in advance of the March 15 deadlines to: Make elections and sign contracts for Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2022 crop year; Consider impacts of enrollment in ARC and PLC on certain crop insurance options, such as the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) and Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO); and File an acreage report to receive a premium benefit through the Pandemic Cover Crop Program.

Meanwhile, USDA also wants to remind producers of the March 15 sales closing date to purchase coverage through Federal crop insurance. This includes new policies like Micro Farm and Post-Application Coverage Endorsement.


Dairy farm numbers dip below 30,000

While cow numbers in the nation’s dairy herd held steady, dairy farm numbers did not follow the same course. In losing 5.7% of the farms holding a permit to sell milk, dairy farm numbers fell to under the 30,000 threshold for the first time since America’s pioneer days. At the midpoint of 2021, the U.S. had 29,858 dairy herds holding commercial permits to sell milk, Hoard's Dairyman reported.

Since 1992, the drop in licensed or so-called commercial dairy farms with permits to sell milk to processing plants has declined from 131,509 to 29,858. That’s a 77% drop during that time, with 101,000 fewer farms but nearly the same number of cows.


Philanthropist donates $50M to 4-H

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott gave a $50 million gift to the National 4-H Council, which the youth-focused nonprofit called “transformational.” The gift is part of a new batch of the philanthropist’s donations now coming to light, Associated Press reported.

The donation to the organization, which supports the 120-year-old youth development program, is the second largest gift known to have been made by Scott since she announced last year she gave $2.7 billion to charitable nonprofits.

Earlier this month, Communities in Schools, which provides services in schools in low-income neighborhoods, said it received a $133.5M contribution from Scott.

The National 4-H Council said Scott’s gift will support “positive youth development” for nearly six million kids and their families.


Yahara WINs now accepting grant applications

The Yahara Watershed Improvement Network, or Yahara WINs, is now accepting grant applications from area organizations for innovative, low-cost projects that will help reduce the amount of phosphorus in local waterways. Proposed projects can target either ag runoff or urban stormwater. The maximum award for a single project is $10,000.

Projects should be relatively new or untested and have compelling value as a test case. The projects are not required to take place in the Yahara watershed as long as the lessons learned can be applied in the watershed.

Yahara WINs is comprised of partners across more than 30 area municipal and county entities, farm groups, water stakeholder organizations and other local entities. For more information email Kim Meyer at Applications will be accepted until April 1, 2022. 


Bird flu confirmed in Iowa commercial turkey flock

Officials announced Monday that they have identified bird flu in a commercial flock of 50,000 turkeys in northwest Iowa, the state's second case of a virus that has been identified in multiple U.S. states.

Iowa ag officials and the USDA confirmed the case in Buena Vista County, about 100 miles north of the case identified March 1 in a backyard flock of 42 ducks and chickens in Pottawattamie County, Associated Press reported.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a disaster proclamation for Buena Vista County to allow state resources to help with disposal of the affected flock and disinfection of the farm. The turkeys have been killed and disposed of on the farm. 

The discovery of avian influenza is especially troubling in Iowa, the nation's leading egg producer. In 2015, an outbreak led producers to kill 33 million hens in the state and 9 million birds in Minnesota, the nation's leading turkey producer. Smaller outbreaks were reported in Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.


Sonny Perdue to serve as chancellor

Former Gov. Sonny Perdue will take the reins on April 1 as chancellor of the University System of Georgia. He will be paid an annual salary of $523,900, the same amount as his predecessor Steve Wrigley.

The 19-member Board of Regents voted on Tuesday to hire Perdue to lead the system's 26 universities and colleges, two weeks after naming Perdue as the sole finalist for the chancellor's post, Associated Press reported. 

Perdue was the first Republican governor of Georgia in more than a century, serving two terms from 2003 to 2011. He then served as U.S. agriculture secretary under President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2021. Despite that experience, critics have said Perdue is unqualified because he has never worked in an academic setting.


In-person horse judging youth clinic is back for 2022 at UW-RF

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls is offering a Horse Judging Youth Clinic from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 26, at the Campus Farm, 1475 S. Wasson La., River Falls. The clinic is intended for 4-H and FFA youth members as well as agricultural education coaches interested in learning or improving their horse judging skills. Participants of all judging experiences and levels are welcome.

The clinic instructor is Casie Bass, assistant professor of animal science at UW-River Falls and coach of the UW-River Falls horse judging team.

Participants will learn how to evaluate horse balance, conformation, in-hand classes, as well as various performance classes.

Costs are: $90 for participants which includes a judging manual, a T-shirt, and participation in all activities and $50 for auditors which covers listening to all activities. Lunch is included for both. Registration deadline is March 23. To register visit


Wisconsinites appointed as delegates to National Pork Producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the appointment of 150 producers and five importers to the 2022 National Pork Producers Delegate Body.

Members from Wisconsin appointed to serve one-year terms are: Ryan Cain, Osseo and Alicia Prill-Adams, Platteville.

Delegates meet annually to recommend the rate of assessment, determine the percentage of assessments that state associations will receive, and nominate producers and importers to the National Pork Board. Representation on the Delegate Body is based on annual net assessments collected on sales of domestic hogs within individual states, with a minimum of two producers from each state.


New evidence on artificial sweeteners submitted to FDA

The Sugar Association submitted a supplemental petition to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to further support its call for sweeping reform of federal regulations governing the labeling of artificial sweeteners used in packaged foods. 

The petition says problems with artificial sweetener labeling are getting more prolific in the absence of FDA action and calls for more transparency on food labels about the use of alternative sweeteners and to stop misleading labeling claims about added sugars content. 

The number of new food product launches each year containing alternative sweeteners has increased by 832% since 2000, with 300% growth in the prevalence of products with alternative sweeteners in just the last five years. 


Seefeldt re-elected to National Dairy Board 

Connie Seefeldt, a Coleman, Wis., dairy farmer, will serve another term as vice-chairperson of USDA's National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB). Seefeldt was first elected to the position after being appointed to the NDB in 2017. 

Seefeldt owns and operates a dairy farm with her family and is a long-time member of the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW) board of directors. 

The 37-member NDB panel carries out promotion and research programs to help build demand and expand domestic and international markets for dairy products. 


US officials reverse course on pesticide's harm to wildlife

U.S. wildlife officials reversed their previous finding that a widely used and highly toxic pesticide could jeopardize dozens of plants and animals with extinction, after receiving pledges from chemical manufacturers that they will change product labels for malathion so that it's used more carefully by gardeners, farmers and other consumers.

Federal rules for malathion are under review in response to longstanding concerns that the pesticide used on mosquitoes, grasshoppers and other insects also kills many rare plants and animals.

Wildlife service officials now say malathion could cause limited harm to hundreds of species, but is unlikely to jeopardize any of them with extinction as long as labels that dictate its use are changed, Associated Press reported. Their conclusion depends on farmers, gardeners and other consumers abiding by the instructions on where and when to use the pesticide.


Glyphosate shortages worry farmers, retailers

Potential glyphosate shortages have a farmer and an ag retailer uncertain about its supply and delivery.

Northeast Nebraska farmers told Brownfield Ag News that suppliers noted that producers would receive just 70-85% of chemicals than they did last year. While other chemicals are available, the price is higher.

Last week Bayer sent a letter to stakeholders saying that the supplier of a raw ingredient to produce glyphosate suffered a mechanical failure. Bayer recently told Brownfield the supplier will restore production within three months and impacts to glyphosate production would be marginal.


University to build state-of-the-art meat processing plant

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln announced plans to develop the Small Meat Processing Plant of the Future during a roundtable discussion at the Nebraska Association of Meat Processors annual convention.

The plant, to be located alongside existing animal science facilities, will serve as a regional processing hub for local cattle producers, as well as a prototype for other small and very small facilities.

“The Small Plant of the Future will be a multi-disciplinary center to strengthen the meat industry in the region,” said Clint Krehbiel, head of the university’s Department of Animal Science.

To address labor and staffing challenges, the meat plant will include a set of workforce development programs, including an internship program that will pair meat science students with small meat processing businesses across the state.