While the pandemic may be in the rearview mirror, organic farmers are still facing struggles and 2023 is a key time for them to contact members of congress and get their concerns heard with the upcoming Farm Bill. Lori Stern, Executive director of MarbleSeed says their farmers aren’t getting a share of the price increases and are producing milk at a loss.
“We think we’re going to have the pandemic and all of the associated challenges behind us and it’s just not proving to be the case,” says Stern. “I think moving forward there we’re going to see a trend of this desire to move to more domestically produced organic feed grains that potentially can lead to more transparency in the pricing of those.”
She adds that there is an entire agricultural system that is built up around non-organic systems and that they are working to fix those challenges. Organic agriculture being recognized as climate smart agriculture is just the first step.
“A lot of the programs that are within the Farm Bill have really benefited large monocrop operations that are not organic,” explains Stern. “When we think about some of the climate friendly practices, the diversity on these smaller to medium sized farms, integrating livestock and row crop,and the grazing that happens with organic dairy, these kind of diverse practices aren’t necessarily what’s being compensated or resourced by farm build programs.”
These topics will be a big part of the conversation happening at the MarbleSeed Annual Organic Farming Conference, February 23-25. The sessions throughout the conference will cover adding rotations and markets for them, grazing practices, and provide members the opportunity to talk with the Department of Agriculture.
“Then, of course, we’ve got a lot of content on production, as that’s why farmers gather, to learn how to continuously improve their farming system,” says Stern. “Another keynote is going to be talking about consolidation in our food system and what is the next place that we need to go, how do we kind of take our food system back and have it more human scale and more localized.”
by The Farm
All cattle and calves in Wisconsin as of Jan. 1 totaled 3.4 million head, according to the latest cattle report from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was down 100,000 head from Jan. 1, 2022. These lows haven’t been seen since 2014.
Beef cows, at 280,000 head, were down 15,000 head from last year. Milk cow inventory was down 5,000 head at 1.27 million head. All heifers 500 pounds and over were down 4 percent at 800,000 head. Heifers for beef cow replacement were down 6 percent from 2022 at 80,000 head; heifers for milk cow replacement, at 630,000 head, were down 5 percent from the previous year; and all other heifers were up 6 percent at 90,000 head.
Steers weighing 500 pounds and over were down 3 percent from last year at 390,000 head. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over were unchanged at 30,000 head.
Calves under 500 pounds on Jan. 1 totaled 630,000 head, down 6 percent from last year. The 2022 calf crop was estimated at 1.4 million head, down 1 percent from the 2021 calf crop. Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots on Jan. 1 totaled 240,000 head, down 11 percent from one year ago.
Looking at the whole U.S., all cattle and calves totaled 89.3 million head, 3 percent below 92.1 million on Jan. 1, 2022.
Beef cows, at 28.9 million head, were down 4 percent from a year ago. Milk cows, at 9.40 million head, were up slightly from the previous year. All heifers 500 pounds and over as of Jan. 1 totaled 19.2 million head, 4 percent below the 19.9 million head on Jan. 1, 2022. Beef replacement heifers, at 5.16 million head, were down 6 percent from a year ago. Milk replacement heifers, at 4.34 million head, were down 2 percent from the previous year. Other heifers, at 9.67 million head, were 3 percent below a year earlier.
Steers weighing 500 pounds and over as of Jan. 1 totaled 16.1 million head, down 3 percent from Jan. 1, 2022. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 2.03 million head, down 4 percent from last year.
Calves under 500 pounds as of Jan. 1 totaled 13.6 million head, down 3 percent from Jan. 1, 2022. The 2022 calf crop in the U.S. was estimated at 34.5 million head, down 2 percent from the previous year’s calfcrop. Calves born during the first half of 2022 were estimated at 25.3 million head, down 2 percent from the first half of 2021. Calves born during the second half of 2022 were estimated at 9.16 million head, 27 percent of the total 2022 calf crop.
The following article was contributed by Extension Dodge County and written by Will Fulwider, Diane Mayerfeld and Kevin Shelley.
Should your farm consider carbon credits?
It seems like every week brings another story about carbon credits for farmers. There are many factors toconsider before jumping in and enrolling your farm in a carbon program. So what is a carbon credit? Acarbon credit is created from a carbon offset, which is an activity that prevents the emission of carbondioxide or another greenhouse gas to the atmosphere that would otherwise be emitted.
For example: If you decide to walk to the store instead of driving, the trip results in fewer carbon dioxideemissions, driving a car emits much more carbon dioxide than walking. Now, you could go up to acompany or organization that wants to lower its net emissions and say, I can save three pounds of carbondioxide by walking to the store. If you pay me fifty cents, I will walk to the store every day instead ofdriving and you will own the carbon dioxide savings that I generate from my changed behavior. This isa carbon offset. An organization has decided that it is easier for them to pay someone else to reducetheir carbon footprint than to reduce their own.
Cap and Trade System
A carbon credit is a certified, tradable carbon offset that is exchanged under a cap and trade system ofemissions regulation. Under a cap and trade system, companies are allotted a certain number of creditsthat limit how much carbon dioxide they can emit (the cap): 1 carbon credit equals 1 ton of carbondioxide. If they emit less carbon dioxide than the credits they hold (by switching their fleet of vehicles toelectric, for example) they can sell those credits to another company that wants to emit more carbondioxide than their credits allow (the trade). In essence, this puts a constraint on the net or total amount ofcarbon dioxide emitted from those companies within the cap and trade system but gives companies thefreedom to exchange those credits among themselves.
The US currently has no national cap on carbon dioxide emissions, therefore the federal government does not administer a national cap and trade program. California, however, has a state-wide cap-and-trade model with caps on greenhouse gas emissions declining over time. Regardless of the context, people often use the term carbon credit to refer to a voluntary carbon offset. Companies that wish to reduce their net carbon emissions due to internal choices or consumer pressures for more environmentally friendly products can say that they are offsetting the carbon they emit by purchasing the changed, carbon emission-reducing behavior of other entities.
There is a lot of carbon stored in soils – almost three times as much as is in the atmosphere.
The increased amount of carbon in the atmosphere is what is driving climate change. Agriculture can help offset carbon emissions by moving some of that excess atmospheric carbon from the air to soils. Conversely, certain agricultural management practices release soil-stored carbon to the atmosphere. For example, tillage stimulates biological processes in the soil by introducing more oxygen and increasing the exposed surface area of carbon-storing compounds in the soil, speeding up the breakdown and emission of that soil carbon as carbon dioxide. On the other hand, there are practices that build up carbon reserves in the soil. Perennial crops that establish deep root systems deposit carbon in various layers of the soil. Cover crops grown between cash crops and crop residues returned to the soil can both lead to additions of carbon in the soil, for example. Given the vast reservoirs of carbon in the soil, and its ability to store carbon over time, there is a lot of excitement about the potential for certain land management practices like no-till and cover crops to generate carbon offsets.
Key players in the agricultural carbon market
•Farmer/landowner: The entity putting the practice in place that stores carbon or reduces/avoids carbon emissions
•Credit aggregator/creator/broker: The business or organization that serves as the go-between for the farmer and the eventual purchaser of the offset. They create and sell the offset. The end purchaser of the offset doesn’t want to have to buy carbon credits from thousands of landowners, so the aggregator does that and then sells the bundled credits to the purchaser. The credit aggregator pays either for a practice put into place on certain acres or pays for the carbon that is stored.
•Verifier: A separate entity that confirms that the practice is indeed storing carbon. There are several ways to do this:1) Model using computers that the practice in question, in this environment, with this management and soil type stores carbon2) Use satellite imagery to check that the practice is in place3) Take soil samples comparing baseline amounts of carbon in the soil at the start of the practice to samples taken after the practice has been in place for a set number of years to verify that carbon is increasing at the expected rate
•Purchaser: A company or entity that purchases the carbon credit to offset their emissions and “owns” the stored carbon.
There are a number of companies big and small that have begun signing on farmers for carbon offsets.The definitions laid out in this article are essential to navigating the carbon credit landscape in the UnitedStates, however, there are still a lot of questions about how these voluntary markets operate in agricultureand just how much responsibility the farmer bears for whether or not they are storing carbon.
Want to dive deeper into carbon markets? Check out this comprehensive overview of carbon markets by UW-Madison Professor Tim Baye: https://www.wibiomass.org/_files/ugd/f0664f_2971b766b50d44d895d52ef6331a5b9d.pdf
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin is now accepting applications for multiple federally funded grant programs to assist in the state’s broadband and digital equity planning efforts.
In December, Gov. Tony Evers and the PSC said the state will get nearly $6 million to plan for the deployment and adoption of affordable, equitable and reliable high-speed internet throughout the state. This investment, awarded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is part of the ‘Internet for All’ initiative under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden in 2021.
The ‘Internet for All’ initiative includes the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program and Digital Equity Program; both programs will help build broadband infrastructure and promote digital equity in the state. The federally funded, state-administered grant programs now open are the BEAD Workforce Planning Grant and the Digital Equity Outreach Grant; more information will soon be available regarding the BEAD Local Planning Grant.
These grant programs will inform and prepare for the next stages of the ‘Internet for All’ timeline. Once the planning stage is completed, Wisconsin will begin to implement the statewide plans over the next several years. Wisconsin could expect an allocation of $700 million to $1.1 billion to implement these plans under BEAD. Additional federal funding will help to implement the state’s digital equity plan to ensure all residents have access to a reliable, affordable internet connection.
“There is no single solution that will bridge Wisconsin’s digital divide. Rather, it will rely on partnerships and strategic, inclusive planning—and that’s exactly what these grant opportunities will drive,” says PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq. “It is crucial for all stakeholders to be at the table during this planning stage. These grants will enable us to build off the historic progress made under Gov. Evers’ leadership to improve access, affordability, and adoption of Internet services throughout the state.”
Preliminary grant program information is below.
More details, including eligibility criteria, can be found on the PSC website: https://psc.wi.gov/Pages/ServiceType/Broadband/InternetForAll.aspx
BEAD Workforce Planning Grant Program:
As part of Wisconsin’s proposal to receive BEAD implementation funding, the state must prepare a plan to ensure a highly skilled workforce is trained and available to build and maintain proposed broadband infrastructure investments. The Workforce Planning Grant will engage existing entities to plan workforce development strategies, map assets, conduct diverse stakeholder engagement, and study policy and funding models to develop solutions that will best prepare the state for broadband infrastructure funding and to ensure all Wisconsinites have a pathway to these career opportunities. A total of $100,000 in funding is available for this grant program. Applications are due March 1 at 1:30pm CT. Find more details: https://psc.wi.gov/Pages/ServiceType/Broadband/GrantWorkforcePlanning.aspx
Digital Equity Outreach Grant:
This will provide funding to trusted partners to collect locally-informed insights into digital equity needs of and solutions for the covered populations they serve. Digital Equity Outreach activities may include but are not limited to interactive workshops, surveys, townhall discussions, data collection, and interviews with covered populations. The deliverables from successful applicants will inform the statewide digital equity plan. The resulting information and plan will help target the Commission’s efforts to ensure Wisconsin’s digital inequities are addressed in future funding allocations. A total of $335,000 in funding is available for this grant program. Applications are due March 1 at 1:30pm CT. Find more details: https://psc.wi.gov/Pages/ServiceType/Broadband/GrantDigitalEquityOutreach.aspx
BEAD Local Planning Grant:
These grants will offer resources to counties and tribes to participate in broadband planning. The resulting local broadband planning will form the basis of Wisconsin’s Five-Year Action Plan for broadband. BEAD Local Planning Grants are non-competitive formula grants that will be allocated to each county and Tribe that opts into the program. A total of $1.5 million in funding is available for this grant program. Applications are due March 7 at 1:30pm CT. Find more details: https://psc.wi.gov/Pages/ServiceType/Broadband/GrantLocalPlanning.aspx
Steve Deller is a Professor of Agriculture and Applied Economics and an Extension Specialist at UW Madison. He recently presented at the Wisconsin Agriculture Outlook Forum on the state of Wisconsin’s economy as well as what areas of concern he sees on the horizon.
So what did Professor Deller have to say? Wisconsin’s economy has not been growing as fast as the national economy. Slower growth is a trend we have seen for a number of years in our state and he attributes that to the labor shortage here in the Badger state. But slower growth may not be bad news as we look towards a possible recession.
Doom and gloom headlines paint a dire picture. However Deller says he expects any upcoming recession to be mild and Wisconsin could be situated to weather the storm well. Of course there are factors out there that could change the picture drastically. Both the war in Ukraine and further COVID variants could upset the apple cart.
Agriculture exports are vital to the Wisconsin Agriculture Economy, and there are concerns we need to be watching for. Of course China is important to keep an eye on. There is population decline there and only modest growth, which could trigger a recession. He is keeping a closer eye on Europe’s economy, which Deller says is more closely tied to our own. While Germany and France are doing ok, Brexit has caused financial issues for England and a recession there could spell trouble for farmers here in Wisconsin.
U.S. Reps. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, and Lauren Boebert, R-CO, led 21 members of Congress in reintroducing legislation to delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List.
Proponents argue that Trust the Science Act follows the scientific recommendation of wildlife experts that the gray wolf should be removed from the Endangered Species List and that gray wolf populations should be managed by states instead of one-size-fits-all federal government regulation.
“It’s a scientific fact that the gray wolf has recovered well past its recovery goal,” Tiffany says. “Saying otherwise undermines the purpose of the Endangered Species Act. This is a true recovery success story, and it’s past time to give states the reins to control their wolf populations.”
The Trust the Science Act requires the Secretary of Interior to reissue the 2020 Department of the Interior final rule that delisted gray wolves in the lower 48 United States and ensures that the reissuance of the final rule will not be subject to judicial review by activist judges, Tiffany’s office explains in a release.
“Wisconsin farmers should not be subject to the judicial whims of a judge hundreds of miles away. It’s time Wisconsin is allowed to take full control of the management of the state’s top predator,” says Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Kevin Krentz. “The science is proven. Wisconsin’s wolves have been recovered, and it’s time for the management phase of this Endangered Species Act success story.”
In 2020, the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the gray wolf in the lower 48 United States through a process that included the best science and data available. At over 6,000 wolves at the time of delisting, the gray wolf has been the latest Endangered Species Act success story with recoveries with significant populations in the Rocky Mountains and western Great Lakes regions, says the release.
“We believe the relisting of the grey wolf was a mistake and should have never been done,” says Mid States Wool Growers Association General Manager Dave Rowe. “The reintroduction of the grey wolf into farming and ranching communities put great pressure on those families in terms of their personal safety and the livestock that they care for.”
Of the 21 members of Congress who cosponsored Tiffany’s bill were Wisconsin’s five other Republican House members: U.S. Reps. Brian Steil, Derrick Van Orden, Scott Fitzgerald, Glenn Grothman and Mike Gallagher.
Groups that support the bill: Alaska Farm Bureau Federation, BigGame Forever, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Livestock Association, Colorado Wool Growers Association, House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans, Hunter Nation, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, IOTR-International Order of T. Roosevelt, Mid States Wool Growers Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Lamb & Wool Producers Association, Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association, National Rifle Association, New Mexico Wool Growers Inc., Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Safari Club International, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Washington Farm Bureau, Washington State Hunter Heritage Council, Western Caucus, Wisconsin Cattleman’s Association, and Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.
See the bill: https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-bill/764
The Wisconsin Soybean Association Board of Directors elected new leadership and set its 2023 vision at its annual meeting during the Wisconsin Corn-Soy Expo.
The farmer-led board elected Sara Stelter to serve as president. Stelter was elevated after serving two years as vice president under President Steve Trzebiatowski.
“I’ve been so thankful that Steve was at the helm. He’s so calm and has such a good overall perspective,” says Stelter, who also represents the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board on the United Soybean Board. “He did a fantastic job as president.”
Stelter, who farms in central Wisconsin, said she looks forward to collaborating with WSA’s officer team, which includes Vice President Doug Rebout, Secretary Daniel Linse and Treasurer Matt Rehberg, who was elected to another term as District 1 director.
“I look forward to implementing our strategic plan and incorporating a team approach,” she says. “We have a great board at WSA, and the organization works best when we’re leading in the same direction.”
After six years on the board, District 4 Director Tony Mellenthin stepped off WSA to focus on his role overseeing the national checkoff program with USB. Emily Carolan (District 1) and Matt Karls (District 2) retired from their spots on WSA. Dave Coggins was appointed to replace Carolan as an Industry Director, and the board elected Rock County’s Evan Dalldorf to fill the board’s other industry position. WSA is still seeking to fill one vacant director role.
“We work well together, and we contribute well together,” Trzebiatowski says. “I look forward to good things in the future. We made leaps and bounds in the right direction.”
Trzebiatowski will remain a director and said Stelter’s deep knowledge of farm policy will benefit WSA in the year ahead.
“I’m so happy for Sara,” he says. “She has a lot of experience and will do a great job.”
Getting the job done
Through a grassroots process, WSA passed its 2023 policy resolutions on legislation related to:
The resolutions are a legislative roadmap for the year ahead and will be brought for consideration at the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) Annual Meeting in March during Commodity Classic.
Trade Advocate Jordan Lamb, who represents WSA in Madison, delivered a legislative update. Wisconsin is one of the few states with a divided legislature, but Lamb predicted agriculture-related bills at the state capital will largely enjoy broad bipartisan support.
“If (the farm groups) stick together, we’ll get a lot done,” she said.
The 2023-2024 legislative session began Jan. 3. Throughout the session, WSA will prioritize supporting higher blends of biofuels and voluntary conversation programs, along with advocating for taxes, rural transportation upgrades and farmland preservation. In March and July, WSA leaders will hold its Hill Visits with lawmakers in Madison. The group heads to Washington, D.C., Feb. 28-March 2 for meetings with legislators during ASA’s board meeting. WSA also marks 50 years of advocacy in 2023.
The board honored the late Robert “Bob” Karls, the longtime executive director who died in April 2022.
“Bob would be happy that we’re starting to move forward,” Trzebiatowski said. “As tough as it’s been, it’s been good to have good people to lean on.”
Retired Director Chuck Prellwitz was also recognized for his 30 years of service to the organization at the state and national level.
“I’ve put in my time and enjoyed every minute of it,” he said.
Cooperative Network has several exciting initiatives and activities for 2023, including a new magazine called Cooperative Focus, a series of six tutorial videos on subjects vital to cooperative leadership, and a golf tournament in June.
CN also announces the return of several activities not held since the start of the pandemic, including Co-op Days at the Capitol. Additionally, CN also will host a business issues conference in March focusing on cooperative governance, finances and leadership, and other topics.
“As a trade association representing hundreds of cooperatives large and small in Wisconsin andMinnesota, Cooperative Network is committed to protecting and promoting our member cooperativesthrough world-class legislative and regulatory advocacy, a wide range of learning developmentopportunities, and creative leadership in public awareness and advocacy,” says CN president and CEODan Smith.
Published biannually (January and July) Cooperative Focus highlights member projects, improvements,and initiatives. The inaugural issue of the magazine was mailed to CN members this week and is postedon the Cooperative Network website.
“Our communication platform is a big part of our public awareness and advocacy efforts and our newmagazine, Cooperative Focus, is a new addition to an already robust communication platform,” Smith says. “Our intent with Cooperative Focus is exactly what the title suggests – we want to focus on the successes of our members and the influence of the cooperative model.”
Other new initiatives and events:
Director Education Video Series
“Cooperative Network is pleased to respond to the growing demand for cooperative educationprogramming with six tutorial videos, available only to members, which can be played in the boardroomto instruct directors and staff on subjects of importance,” says Smith.
Topics include: Toad Lane and the Seven Cooperative Principles Best Practices in Cooperative Governance Planning for Tomorrow: Cooperative Success & Talent Recruitment Cooperative Finance: Understanding the Numbers Roles and Responsibilities for Cooperative Directors Best Practices in the Cooperative Board Room
CN Business Issues Conference: Cooperative Pathways to Success!Thursday, March 16, Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
Held in conjunction with the Minneapolis-based CoBank Customer Meeting, the conference features afull slate of presentations by cooperative experts on cooperative governance, finance, leadership, andworkforce engagement. Cooperative leaders, staff and directors are encouraged to attend.
Minnesota Co-op Day at the Capitol, Wednesday, March 29Wisconsin Co-op Day at the Capitol, Tuesday, April 18
Co-op Days at the Capitol provide opportunities for representatives from various types of cooperativebusinesses to discuss cooperative issues in person with policymakers and advance the cooperativelegislative agenda.
First Annual Golf OutingWednesday, June 21, The Golf Club at Cedar Creek, Onalaska
Open for individual, twosome, or foursome golfers, registration includes lunch, a goody bag, round ofgolf with cart, dinner, and a chance to win prizes.
Yes, he’s the regulator, but he’s also the resource. Aaron O’Rourke is the nutrient management plan coordinator with the Wisconsin DNR’s CAFO program. If you’re taking the ‘offseason’ to work on your NMP, O’Rourke has some advice to make sure your plan isn’t only compliant, but that it gets approved quickly. He’s also got some reminders on winter manure management rules for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.
Aaron says the the biggest factor they look at when a farm’s nutrient management plan is reviewed is how many acres they intend to spread on. He suggests making sure you consider the entire plan term to make sure you have enough acres. The number of acres isn’t the only number that matters. He says you need to make sure you have your numbers right, when it comes to the volume of manure and water you’ll be spreading. Including your planned applications and showing you can meet the rotational requirements is also important.
While there has been a backlog with nutrient management plans over the last several years, O’Rourke says that they have been working diligently to solve it. He says that getting a plan back quickly also requires the plan that is submitted to be complete and for the farm to be meeting the requirements ahead of plan submission.
The DNR may be the enforcement agency for regulation surrounding manure management, but they also are a resource for farmers. Workshops are offered yearly and they encourage farms and consultants to reach out to staff to ask questions about their plans. The DNR has knowledge in many of the different ways farms are handling waste, and they want to share that information with farmers.
For a schedule of upcoming workshops, check out our previous story found HERE.
Individuals across the country can make a difference in the lives of the more than 850,000 FFA members this month by participating in Give FFA Day during National FFA Week.
For the eighth year, during National FFA Week, individuals will have an opportunity to step up and support FFA and agricultural education through Give FFA Day on Feb. 23. Funds raised support various programs on local, state and national levels. During the 24 hours of giving, donors can donate to National FFA and the state FFA associations of their choice.
With a membership of more than 850,000, there is a need for sustained funding to provide valuable programs, events, skills training and more; through generous supporters like those on Give FFA Day, FFA members can thrive.
This year, the organization aims to raise $500,000 during the 24 hours of Give FFA Day. FFA hopes to achieve this by challenging everyone to contribute throughout the day with a goal of having 2,000 donors participate.
RFD-TV has generously pledged to match the first $100,000 in donations on Give FFA Day. In addition, American Family Insurance and John Deere will also match donations on Give FFA Day. Matching details will be announced throughout the day.
“Donors at every level ensure we continue to grow the future leaders of agriculture and the world,” says Kimberly Coveney, the annual fund manager for the National FFA Foundation. “Give FFA Day is an opportunity for each FFA supporter to magnify their impact on the lives of young people when they join other donors across the country. Every gift makes a difference, and we are grateful for our donors and their continued support and belief in FFA and agricultural education.”
Prepare for Give FFA Day: https://giveffaday.ffa.org/pages/home-2176