Ag Briefs: Barn total loss following blaze

Wisconsin State Farmer
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Barn total loss following blaze

First responders were called to a barn fire on Wednesday morning near N225 Cranberry Road in the Town of Scott.

According to the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office, they received a call reporting the fire around 9:40 a.m.

Fire departments from Beechwood, Boltenville, Silver Creek, Cascade, Random Lake, Filmore, Cedar Grove and Adell responded to the fire. 

No animals or people were injured in the fire, according to Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office.


Black named executive director/CEO of State Fair Park

Shari Black has been named Executive Director/CEO of Wisconsin State Fair Park, has been named Executive Director/CEO. She had been serving in the interim role since Oct. 2021. 

Black has held several positions at State Fair Park since joining the team in 2016. Most recently she assumed the role of Chief Programming Officer. In this executive leadership position, she oversaw rides, attractions, agriculture, competitive exhibits, entertainment, and vendor services for the annual State Fair.

BERLIN, Germany

Bayer sells pest control business for $2.6B

German chemical and health care company Bayer said Thursday it is selling a U.S.-based pest control business to private equity firm Cinven for $2.6 billion.

Bayer said the Environmental Science Professional business, which is headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, had about 800 employees last year. It specializes in "environmental solutions" for pest, disease and weed control in non-agricultural areas.

Bayer officials say the company planned to divest in Feb. 2021, to focus on its core agricultural business. The sale is expected to close in this year's second half, and the proceeds will be used to reduce Bayer's net financial debt.


Pesticide spraying co. liable for pesticide drifts

A Northern California pesticide spraying company was negligent on at least five occasions its helicopter pilots allowed the toxic chemicals to drift onto neighboring orchards, children playing soccer and a woman standing in her backyard, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Alpine Helicopter Service, Inc. violated the law when it carelessly released the harmful chemicals on at least five occasions between 2014 and 2020, endangering the public's health and safety, Associated Press reported.

Pesticide drift is prohibited under Food and Agricultural Code. In 2017, the company's toxic chemicals landed on a special education school in Lodi. In 2019, pesticides being sprayed by a company's pilot on a pumpkin field drifted onto children playing soccer at a sports complex in Stockton. 


Same moth, new name, same problem

The Entomological Society of America approved “spongy moth” as the new common name for the invasive forest pest commonly known as the gypsy moth. The name was changed in 2021 due to its use of a derogatory term for Romani people.

The new name – derived from the common name used in France and French-speaking Canada, “spongieuse”- refers to the moth’s sponge-like egg mass, an important target for management efforts to slow the spread of the insect.

Treatment efforts help limit the spread of this pest that is established in the eastern two-thirds of the Wisconsin. The invasive pest is a serious threat to forests and urban trees and has the potential to negatively impact Wisconsin’s timber, paper, nursery, and tourism industries, according to Christopher Foelker, coordinator of DATCP’s spongy moth treatment program.

Beginning in May and continuing through July, low-flying planes will spray select areas in western Wisconsin to treat outlier populations of spongy moth. A total of about 163,491 acres at 57 sites in 17 counties are scheduled for treatment.


Annual Sheep Day set for April 2

The 12th Annual Arlington Sheep Day will be held April 2 at the Public Events Facility of the Arlington Agricultural Research Station, N695 Hopkins Rd, Arlington, WI. The program is designed for both youth and adult producers.

Dan Smerchek and family will present "Getting off on the right foot to help youth select lambs along with proper feeding, health and exercise programs to training them to show. UW Madison Sheep Program Student Employees and Volunteers will also be available to help and answer questions. 

Dr. Dan Morrical will lead a session on feeding by-products in sheep rations. Other presentations will focus on tracking animal behavior for better health, the latest findings in sheep fertility, and an update on current research involving the UW Polypay Flock.

The educational program will be followed by the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative banquet and recognition program and annual meeting. For more information, call the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative at 608-846-5858.


More than half of U.S. commodities stuck in extended dryness

Dryness in the Central and Western states is impacting nearly $160 billion of U.S. ag production.

Data from the American Farm Bureau shows most of the U.S.’s top ag commodities are grown or raised in states experiencing extended dryness – like 81 percent of cattle and calves.

AFBF Economist Danny Much says the drought could impact several aspects of the food supply chain. 

The data shows extended dryness is affecting 81 percent of wheat production, 60 percent of corn, 54 percent of soybeans and 75 percent of hay. For livestock, it’s 72 percent of dairy production and 65 percent of hog production, Brownfield Ag News reported.


Bird flu case found in southwest Iowa egg-laying flock

State and federal officials said that Iowa's third case of bird flu has been identified in a flock of about 919,000 egg-laying chickens in the southwestern part of the state.

The latest outbreak in Taylor County is the first case of avian influenza in Iowa this year in an egg-laying facility, Associated Press reported. The previous Iowa cases were a small outbreak among an outdoor flock of ducks and chickens in in western Iowa on March 1 and in a flock of 50,000 turkeys in northwest Iowa on March 6.

The presence of the virus is especially troubling for poultry producers 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. 


Platteville fish dealer convicted of selling invasive carp

A wholesale fish dealer from Platteville has been convicted of illegally selling invasive carp in Wisconsin. Ping Li, co-owner and sole operator of Li Fish Farm, LLC, was convicted in Grant and Dane county circuit courts of two misdemeanor crimes and 17 forfeiture violations under a plea deal.

The Journal Sentinel reports it was the state's first case involving illegal sale of bighead, grass and silver carp. Acting on a tip in 2018, DNR conservation wardens began an investigation and observed Li selling the fish to Asian Midway Foods in Madison. 

It is illegal to possess Asian carp in Wisconsin unless the fish have been gutted or the gills are severed.


Staff needed for Dairy Promotion shops at WI State Fair

The Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board is seeking staff, 16 and over, to work at the Real Wisconsin Cheese Grill and the Dairyland Shake Shop during the 2022 Wisconsin State Fair, Aug. 4 - 14, 2022. 

The booths are located in the Wisconsin Products Pavilion. Staff would be responsible for assisting with all aspects of making grilled cheese sandwiches and supporting sales of all cheese products or pouring and selling shakes. 

A job description and application are available at, or by emailing   


Anti-gestation crate policies set to take effect in key states

Animal welfare groups applauded the introduction of the Pigs in Gestation Stalls (PIGS) Act, H.R. 7004, by U.S. Reps. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, and Nancy Mace, R-S.C., to ban confinement crates.

Along with a wide range of other organizations, Animal Wellness Action, the Animal Wellness Foundation, and the Center for a Humane Economy endorse this bipartisan legislation – the first-ever federal policy proposal to ban gestation crates.

The groups says a national policy against gestation crates levels the playing field for all producers, retailers, and consumers, providing certainty and consistency for all stakeholders.

Almost every major food retailer in the United States – from McDonald’s to Costco to Aramark – has made a public pledge to phase out sourcing pork from large farms that confine sows in gestation crates, with most pledges originally set to take effect in 2022. 


Infant formula recalled

 Families encouraged to check for recalled formula and monitor children for symptoms

The USDA Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are investigating five consumer complaints nationwide of infant illness related to infant formula products from the Abbott Nutrition facility in Sturgis, Michigan.

These complaints were received from Sept. 20, 2021, to Jan. 11, 2022. All of the infants who are ill are reported to have consumed powdered infant formula produced at this facility. As a result, a recall was issued on February 17, 2022 for Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare powdered formula produced during a certain time period, according to a news release.

The FDA advises consumers not to use recalled Similac, Alimentum or EleCare (including EleCare Jr.) powdered infant formulas. Recalled products can be identified by the 7- to 9-digit code and expiration date on the bottom of the package. Products are included in the recall if they have all three items below:


Baldwin joins effort to utilize E15 fuel, biofuels to lower costs

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) joined a bipartisan effort, led by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), in urging President Biden to permit the year-round sale of E15 fuel in order to reduce the United States’ reliance on foreign sources of energy.

In a news release, the senators said that American biofuels are a clean and reliable energy solution that will help drive down fuel costs for consumers who are facing record-high prices at the pump.

Following the country's ban on Russian fuel in the wake of the attack on Ukraine, lawmakers said it would will require tapping every accessible contribution of American energy technology. As you know, American biofuels are one such readily available energy solution that offer consumers affordable and cleaner options at the pump.” 

“The message from both sides of the aisle in Congress is clear – we need more homegrown, low-carbon solutions to address rising gas prices and shield American drivers from the continued volatility in the global oil market,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Biofuels are a ready solution to help provide consumers with lower costs at the pump. We welcome Sen. Thune and Durbin’s bipartisan letter to President Biden calling for increased access to higher blends of biofuels, like E15, across the nation and throughout the year to displace a greater share of imported oil.”


Larew re-elected to President of National Farmers Union

Delegates to the National Farmers Union (NFU) 120th Anniversary Convention re-elected Rob Larew as President and elected Jeff Kippley as Vice President. Their two-year term begins today and will conclude at NFU’s 122nd Anniversary Convention in 2024. 

Larew, re-elected for a second term, pledged to continue fighting for the organization’s key priorities. Larew splits his time between his farm in Greenville, West Virginia, and the national office in Washington, D.C. He previously worked in Congress and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and served for four years as the NFU Vice President of Government Relations and Communications from 2016 to 2020.

MAASSLUIS, Netherlands

Lely ceases commercial activities in Russia, Belarus

Lely, one of the leading dairy technology companies in the world, is now among businesses that have suspended or halted commercial activities in Russia and Belarus.

Lely says it will not unilaterally stop supporting existing farmers in Russia, Belarus and surrounding countries due to the only reason of supplying parts and maintenance products to existing customers who are not on a sanctions list. The company says this is in the interest of supporting animal welfare and acknowledging the role farmers have in the country’s food supply, NPR reported.