Ag Briefs: Longtime ag teacher, Mark Zimmerman passes at 56

Wisconsin State Farmer


Longtime ag teacher, Mark Zimmerman passes at 56

Mark Zimmerman

Mark Zimmerman who taught agriculture education and served as the FFA advisor in the Spencer School District for the past 33 years, died peacefully at his home on June 29, after a 4 ½-year battle with cancer. 

He was honored as a Crystal Apple Teacher Award Winner, Herb Kohl Teacher Fellowship Award winner, and recognized by the Wisconsin and National Association of Agricultural Educators as an Outstanding Agricultural Education Program. Most recently he received the Outstanding Agriculture Instructor Award from UW-River Falls and was inducted into the Wisconsin FFA Hall of Fame at the 2022 Wisconsin FFA Convention.

He was also extremely involved in the Marathon County 4-H and Wisconsin Valley Fair. Mark served as the swine superintendent for over 30 years for the Wisconsin Valley Fair

He is survived by his wife, Cheryl (whom he served with on the State FFA officer team from 1985-86), and his children Aaron Zimmerman and Ashley Crowson, Katelyn and Cortney Zimmerman. 


4 WI skilled trades teachers are finalists for teaching prize

Fifty public high school skilled trades teachers were named as finalists today for Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. A total of $1.25 million in cash prizes will be awarded in October, when the field is narrowed down to 20 winners. 

Four public high school skilled trades teachers from Wisconsin have been named as finalists for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. 

This year a record 768 applications were received from 50 states. The 20 winners will be announced in October. 

The Wisconsin finalists are: Austin Thorson, an automotive technology, Elkhorn Area H.S.; Anthony Christian, a metal fabrication & manufacturing, Arrowhead Union H.S.; Miles Tokheim, an automotive technology, James Madison Memorial H.S.; Dan Van Boxtel, automotive technology, Kaukauna H.S.


Wisconsin all milk price hits record...again

It was a bit of deja vu as the Wisconsin all milk price for May 2022 hit another all-time record at $27.4/cwt., according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service - Agricultural Prices report.

This was 30 cents above last month's price and $7.60 above last May's price. The U.S. all milk price for May was $27.30 per cwt, 10 cents lower than Wisconsin's price but 20 cents higher than last month's U.S. price.

According to the report, the national all milk price was $27.30 per cwt., $.20 over month's U.S. price.


U.S. hog inventory down 1 percent

As of June 1, there were 72.5 million hogs and pigs on U.S. farms, down 1% from June 2021 and down slightly from March 1, 2022, according to the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report published by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Other key findings in the report were: Of the 72.5 million hogs and pigs, 66.4 million were market hogs, while 6.17 million were kept for breeding; between March and May 2022, 32.9 million pigs were weaned on U.S. farms, down 1% from the same time period one year earlier; from March through May 2022, U.S. hog and pig producers weaned an average of 11 pigs per litter; U.S. hog producers intend to have 3.02 million sows farrow between June and Aug. 2022, and 3.01 million sows farrow between Sept. and Nov. 2022.

Iowa hog producers accounted for the largest inventory among the states, at 23 million head. Minnesota had the second largest inventory at 8.40 million head. North Carolina was third with 8.20 million head.


Supreme Court ruling shakes up groundwater rights

A Nevada Supreme Court ruling has set new precedent for how the state can manage groundwater in areas with severe drought. The 4-3 ruling was issued Thursday to settle a water dispute in a rural Eureka County farm area, the Associated Press reported.

The court said groundwater management plans established in some areas that are losing water quickly can deviate from the longstanding senior water rights doctrine. Groundwater is governed by what is called a "priority doctrine." It traditionally grants senior land owners first rights to groundwater over junior land owners.

The court ruled as the West weathers a more than 20-year megadrought. Scientists say climate change will continue to make water supplies less reliable.


Largest US pork packer to close plant

Smithfield Foods Inc., the largest pork processor in the U.S., is leaving California due to high operational costs and red tape.

"Smithfield Foods, Ins, has announced we will cease all harvest and processing operations in Vernon, California, in early 2023 and, at that time, align its hog productions system by reducing  its sow herd in its Western regions," the company said in a June 10 statement. 

Smithfield also plans to reduce its sow herd in Utah and exit its farms in Arizona and California.


High Court's EPA ruling upends Biden's environmental agenda

The Supreme Court’s ruling on June 30 limiting the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions could have far-reaching consequences, according to legal experts, which could curb President Biden’s ambitious plans to tackle climate change along with air and water pollution, The Washington Post reported.

The 6-to-3 decision in West Virginia v. EPA, where the court ruled the agency overstepped its authority with rules to cut power plants’ planet-warming pollution, comes as conservatives are waging a larger legal battle to rein in the federal government’s ability to tackle pressing environmental problems.

The outcome of those cases could determine whether the fight over U.S. environmental policy shifts decisively to the states, where some will weaken protections as others continue to pursue strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution.


OT bill for farm workers introduced in Senate

The Fairness for Farmworkers Act of 2022 was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Cali.). If passed and signed, the legislation would extend overtime pay to all U.S. farm workers who were excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, which established the federal minimum wage and overtime rules.

“The discriminatory exclusion of farm workers from overtime pay has continued for far too long. Farm workers help put food on our tables and deserve equal workplace rights,” said UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres.

Currently, California is the only state that provides overtime pay to all agricultural workers after 40 hours a week