Brancel stepping down as top Wisconsin ag official
After seven years of serving as agriculture secretary under Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ben Brancel will step down next month.
In a letter released by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DACTP) Brancel said he gave much thought to when it would be the right time to retire. "I came to the conclusion that there always will be unfinished business to be done, but now is the time to return to my family's farm full-time in Marquette County as we plan for our first ever production sale," said Brancel in the letter. "My son and daughter-in-law are now the sixth generation to farm the land. My first job was a farmer, and my last job will be a farmer." Read more here.
Blueberry growers face intense pressure
By Nikki Kallio
When Elizabeth White teamed up with the USDA in 1910 to grow blueberry hybrids on her New Jersey farm, it was the beginning of an industry that would eventually have a notable impact on the southwest lakeshore of Michigan.
Growers eventually discovered Michigan’s acidic soil, combined with the moderating effect of the lake on climate, was ideal for blueberry crops. By World War II, the state had a sizable blueberry industry that continued to expand, said Mark Longstroth, Michigan State University Extension small-fruit educator.
In 2014, the state ranked first in acreage of blueberry production. Michigan is consistently one of the top producers of blueberries in the nation, along with Washington and Georgia, according to the USDA.
Now, growers face a number of pressures that has them reassessing how they approach production, decrease costs and increase yields. Read more here.
LaClare's YoGoa classes attract a following
By MaryBeth Matzek
Last spring, Jessica Mayer saw something on the Internet that caught her eye: People practicing yoga while goats meandered around.
“I thought, ‘We should try that here. We have the goats,” said Mayer, retail manager at LaClare Family Creamery in Malone, a small town in Fond du Lac County, Wis.
Since the class combined yoga and goats, Mayer decided YoGoa would be the perfect name for the activity. The first YoGoa class held in mid-June was a huge hit and Mayer worked to add other classes to the calendar. Read more here.
Changing cow care in hot weather
By MaryBeth Matzek
It is summer in the Midwest and that means hot and humid weather. Unfortunately, dairy cows do not like the heat and see their production and health decline.
The Missouri Dairy Industry Alliance (MDIA) and the University of Missouri-Extension recently held a field day to educate nearly 100 farmers on how they can make their cows more comfortable in hot weather and improve their overall health.
“Dairy cows are very vulnerable to heat stress,” said Reagan Bluel, an Extension dairy specialist. Read more here.
Planning for potential business disasters vital
By Dave Coggins
Recent news showcased how more than 50 dairy farms were nearly devastated by the Canadian trade policies that forced Grassland Dairy Products to drop them as patrons. While that roller-coaster experience has ended with nearly all of the affected farms finding new processors, it should serve as a wake-up call for every farm owner to plan for the unthinkable.
Most farmers are well-equipped in terms of insuring their business against potential acts of nature. But many are not so prepared for other types of disasters that warrant having a “Plan B” if they want their business to survive. Read more here.
Dairy keeps Kewaunee County's economy strong
By MaryBeth Matzek
A host of factors play into whether a community is considered healthy.
Things like access to and quality of medical care, the environment, the economy and quality and length of life. Kewaunee County continues to rank among the healthiest in Wisconsin, most recently second in annual state health rankings.
In the economic area, the county’s agricultural community is vital. Agriculture accounts for more than $80 million in economic activity each year. Of that, an estimated $65 million is driven by dairy farming, said Jim Smidel, a member of the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp.’s board of directors. Read more here.
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