Wisconsin briefs: Aid coming for counties hit by winterkill

Wisconsin State Farmer
Wisconsin briefs


Wisconsin farmers to help drought stricken North Dakota

Wisconsin farmers are being asked to help North Dakota farmers struggling with the drought.

"Wisconsin farmers have always had big hearts, and this is one more way they can help out their neighbors, even neighbors who are two states away," said Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben Brancel in a news release.

Department spokeswoman Donna Gilson told Wisconsin Public Radio that North Dakota has seen high temperatures, high winds and little precipitation. As a result, North Dakota ranchers don't have enough hay or usable pasture land for their cattle, Gilson said.

"There's not a lot of hay or forage available right now, and what's available is not in great condition for their cattle," Gilson said.

Unlike North Dakota, Wisconsin has seen heavy rains this spring.

"There is a fair amount of the Midwest that is in pretty dry conditions right now. We're a little bit of an anomaly perhaps," Gilson said.

The rain has been a mixed blessing for farmers in the state, Gilson said. While storms delayed planting and damaged some crops last week, some farmers were able to get a jump start planting because of the wet weather.

However, some Wisconsin farmers saw heavy alfalfa loses due to winterkill caused by a lack of snow cover.


Aid coming for Wisconsin counties hit by alfalfa winterkill

Governor Scott Walker announced on June 30 that 10 Wisconsin counties have been designated disaster areas due to losses to winterkill and late freezes that hit alfalfa fields especially hard in the first five months of the year.

Farmers in those counties and 13 adjacent counties may be eligible for assistance from the USDA Farm Service Agency in the form of emergency loans.

“We applaud the USDA’s decision to designate the counties affected by alfalfa winterkill as disaster areas,” Governor Walker said. “This aid helps Wisconsin farmers get back on their feet and protects them from crippling losses due to damaged crops. We look forward to working with USDA moving forward on this issue.”

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue informed Governor Walker that ten counties, where losses reached as high as 70 percent, were named as primary disaster areas, including: Brown, Calumet, Kewaunee, La Crosse, Manitowoc, Monroe, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, and Washington.

The 13 adjacent counties are also eligible for aid, including: Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Jackson, Juneau, Milwaukee, Oconto, Shawano, Trempealeau, Vernon, Waukesha, Waupaca, and Winnebago.

The losses stemmed mainly from the lack of snow cover, which insulates plants from freeze damage, this past winter. 


Mosquitoes in Milwaukee test positive for West Nile virus

The City of Milwaukee Health Department says mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus in Milwaukee.

The department said Friday it has confirmed the presence of the virus. The mosquitoes were collected and tested as part of the department's seasonal surveillance efforts for West Nile.

Health Commissioner Bevan Baker says the city of Milwaukee has not seen a confirmed case of West Nile in a person this year. But Baker says detecting the virus is a reminder to residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

Most West Nile virus infections in Wisconsin typically occur between June and September, and are transmitted to humans through a mosquito bite.

Only about 20 percent of people bitten by an infected mosquito will develop symptoms such a fever, rash, headache and joint pain.


Wisconsin GOP plan to impose truck fees all but dead

A tentative Republican plan to impose new fees on heavy trucks to help pay for road projects all but disintegrated Friday after several state senators said they couldn't support the proposal, which threatens to extend the stalemate on crafting the state budget.

Five GOP senators - Steve Nass, David Craig, Frank Lasee, Chris Kapenga and Duey Stroebel - issued a joint statement calling the fee a creative new way to tax Wisconsin residents and saying the state Department of Transportation is inefficient and doesn't deserve new money.

A January audit found major projects over the last decade have cost twice as much as the DOT initially estimated and that Wisconsin's roads are in worse shape than those in six other Midwestern states.

"We should be looking for savings in government," the statement said. "Now is not the time to increase taxes on our citizens."

Republicans hold a 20-13 advantage over Democrats in the Senate. They need at least 17 votes to pass anything. Myranda Tanck, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, said Fitzgerald has acknowledged the plan is likely dead.


Maple marketing intern sought by WI Maple Syrup Producers

The Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association is in the process of accepting applications for a 2017-2018 Maple Marketing Intern candidate. This position has been revamped from what use to be called the Wisconsin Maple Queen program.

The position is open to seniors, recent high school graduates or college students. 

The qualified candidate should have a flexible schedule, valid transportation to and from events, good oral and written communication skills, knowledge of the Wisconsin maple industry, be pleasant and courteous, have a professional demeanor, and interact well with people of all ages. 

Candidates must have a willingness to travel. The intern position is a 32 to 40 hour commitment throughout the year, not including travel time. Tenure is from Sept. 1, 2017 - Sept. 1, 2018. 

The intern will attend open houses during the maple syrup season, attend the Wisconsin State Fair at least one day, the fall tour on Oct. 14, 2017 and the first tree tapping in March, 2018. Additional responsibilities include helping the executive director, promoting and educating people about the industry at various events. 

Write a short resume, along with an original essay about pure Wisconsin maple syrup and involvement in the maple industry. Send the resume by Aug. 24, 2018 by mail or email to Theresa Baroun, 2546 Homestead Dr., DePere, Wi 54115 or director@wismaple.org.