Upcoming Paid Internships With CentralStar Announced

Upcoming Paid Internships With CentralStar Announced

CentralStar Cooperative is announcing the opening of several paid-internship positions for summer of 2024. “These opportunities cater to students passionate about the agricultural industry and offer hands-on experiences in various fields,” said CentralStar Communication Specialist Dori Lichty. Applications are due Oct. 31, 2023. Internship areas of interest include cattle artificial insemination (A.I), milk-sample analysis, and research and development. To apply, visit http://centralstar.info/careers.

CentralStar’s A.I.-specialist interns play a pivotal role in helping dairy and beef customers optimize herd reproduction and productivity. A.I. interns work hands-on with cattle. Interns will utilize heat-detection and A.I. services, across various types of dairy and beef farms.

The milk-analysis-technician intern will work with the team in CentralStar’s Kaukauna, Wis., facility. They will assist with analyzing milk samples and reporting component and diagnostic results from dairy and beef cattle. It offers an opportunity to gain experience with a variety of sample-analysis platforms and sample-processing methodologies.

CentralStar’s research and development intern will be based in Lansing, Mich. The intern will contribute to the discovery and validation of new diagnostic tests using cutting-edge molecular and immunological techniques and technologies. Intern efforts include collaborating closely with researchers, veterinarians, and dairy and beef producers.

“Don’t miss this opportunity to be part of CentralStar Cooperative’s mission of enhancing producer profitability through integrated services,” added Lichty. “Apply now to embark on an exciting journey in the heart of the agriculture industry.”

CentralStar’s administration and warehouse facilities are located in Lansing, Mich., and Waupun, Wis., with laboratories in Grand Ledge, Mich., and Kaukauna, Wis. The cooperative serves dairy and beef producers throughout Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana, with additional DHI territory in various surrounding states. For more information, visit CentralStar Cooperative Inc. at www.mycentralstar.com.

9 Receive “Ag in All Classrooms” Grant

9 Receive “Ag in All Classrooms” Grant

 Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation’s Agriculture in the Classroom program has awarded $4,500 to schools and educators to support innovative core curricula initiatives that incorporate agriculture.

Groups, schools and educators can apply for up to $500 as part of the Ag in the Classroom ‘Ag in All Classrooms’ grant program.

“Agriculture is one of Wisconsin’s largest sectors, providing nearly one in nine jobs in our state,” said Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom Coordinator Beth Schaefer. “We are excited to support educators who work to grow student achievement while simultaneously introducing students to the skills and jobs needed to produce the food and fiber we rely on daily.”

Educators and projects that have been awarded funding for Fall 2023 include:

  • “A Sweet Treat: Ice Cream in the Classroom” – Tyler Foote, Vincent High School of Agricultural Sciences
  • “What’s Your Watershed Footprint?” – Kim Pokorny, School for Agricultural & Environmental Studies (SAGES)
  • “Let It Rot! Investigating the impact of earth worms on soil health” – Tina Johnson, River Trail School of Agricultural Science
  • “Aquaponics – Raising fish and plants in a closed environment.” – David Zimmermann, River Trail School of Agricultural Science
  • “The Community Farm” – Karen Weidner, OH Schultz Elementary
  • “Read it, Eat it, Learn it!” – Keri Radtke, Mineral Point Elementary
  • “Farm to Classroom-Embedded agriculture in high school culinary education” -Mollie Haubenschild, Waukesha West, South, North
  • “Drones in Agriculture” – Nick Gagnon, Chippewa Falls High School
  • “ESW FARM Exploring Job Options in Rural Wisconsin” – Cally Ehle, Easter Seals Wisconsin FARM Program

Applications for Spring 2023 Ag in ALL Classroom grants will be open in October. Visit wisagclassroom.org to learn more.

WI Produced A Little More Milk In August

WI Produced A Little More Milk In August

Milk production in Wisconsin during August totaled 2.76 billion pounds. That’s up 1 percent from the previous August, according to the latest USDA milk production report.

Meanwhile, milk production across the 24 major milk-producing states during August was pretty flat — down 0.3 percent from August 2022. Total U.S. milk production was down 0.2 percent from last August.

But these flat or marginal numbers are not happening everywhere. New Mexico’s August milk production is down 8 percent; Kansas is down 4.3 percent; and California is down 3.7 percent compared to the previous August. South Dakota saw the largest growth in milk production from August 2022 to August 2023 at a 6 percent increase.

The average number of milk cows in Wisconsin, during August, at 1.27 million head, was unchanged from July but down 3,000 from August 2022. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,175 pounds, up 30 pounds from last August.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major milk-producing states was 8.91 million head, 15,000 head less than August 2022, but 1,000 head more than July 2023. Production per cow averaged 2,038 pounds for August, 2 pounds below August 2022.

Looking at the entire U.S., production per cow averaged 2,021 pounds for August, 1 pound below August 2022. The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.39 million head, 16,000 head less than August 2022, but no change from July 2023.

Farm Accidents Cost More Than Initial Price Tag

Farm Accidents Cost More Than Initial Price Tag

Nobody wants to get the phone call that there was a farm accident. We assume the worst as farming is one of the most dangerous occupations.

This week, the agriculture community is celebrating National Farm Safety and Health Week to remind farmers that they can prevent accidents and injuries during the busy harvest season.

Angela Bunker, a loss control specialist with American Family Insurance, says no matter the severity of a farm accident, financial burdens add up. As a loss control specialist, Bunker serves as the eyes and ears for underwriters as she makes farm visits across the state. She also leads safety courses for farm employees.

She says the cost of a farm accident can grow up to 10 times higher than the initial damage because of “soft costs.”

“Let’s say it was a $1,000 loss. On average, it’s not just that main loss where that dollar amount comes in,” she says. “What we find is the soft cost — everything that that farmer or rancher has to do… find a replacement employee… borrow equipment… meet with an attorney… actually costs the farmer $7,000 to $10,000 in soft costs.”

Bunker says farm losses also have the potential to raise your insurance prices. The easiest way to stop this is to not have a farm loss at all. She lays out easy safety measures anyone can take to prevent an expensive accident:

  • Training and preparation are key.  Review safety protocols and procedures with employees and family members. 
  • Wear your seatbelts whether it is operating mobile equipment like a skid steer, operating a tractor or driving a truck or semi.  Seat belts save lives. According to studies, 8 out of 10 individuals involved in an accident that are wearing their seat belt will survive.
  • Have everyone get proper rest.  Tired employees and team members lead to injuries.  Make sure you are keeping track of yourself and team members and allowing breaks when needed. 
  • Give the task of driving your full attention.  Put down the cell phones and look up.
  • Inspect vehicles and mobile equipment before operating.  Check that safety lights are working and machinery has fire extinguishers.  Do not operate faulty equipment.  Maintenance is key to a successful fall harvest season. 

UW Hosts Second-Annual Harvest Festival

UW Hosts Second-Annual Harvest Festival

You’re invited to celebrate Allen Centennial Garden’s second annual Harvest Festival on Sep. 30. The festival is free and open to the public.

The event runs from 12-5 p.m. It will have live music, dancing, cooking demonstrations and storytelling. There are also opportunities to learn about different harvest traditions from numerous cultures around the world.

The Harvest Festival centers around the Wyman Kitchen Garden, completed in spring. The garden highlights the crops and cuisines of African American, Latinx and Native American cultures. Partners from the Native American Center for Health Professions, Trade Roots, and the UW-Madison Department of Plant and Agroecosystem Sciences helped select, plant, and harvest crops. The Wyman Kitchen Garden features a circular shape divided into three sections with plants such as beans, peppers, and squash.

The Harvest Festival kicks off with a seed exchange at 12 p.m., featuring free seeds shared by Allen Centennial Garden, Seed Savers Exchange, and community members. If you’d like to contribute to the exchange, arrive at noon. Seeds will be ready to pick up starting at 12:30 p.m.

Attendees can enjoy a variety of entertainment, including performances and presentations by:

  • Atimevu West African Drum and Dance Ensemble
  • Natalia Armacanqui and Richard Hildner Armacanqui, Andean music and stories
  • Yusuf Bin-Rella and Francesco Mangano, chefs
  • Jesse Downs and Liz Voz, American folk music
  • Madison’s Hmong Heritage Club, Hmong music
  • And many more

UW-Madison student groups will be on hand during the event to share information about food and garden traditions from numerous cultures, including Italian and Scandinavian. There will also be a showcase of student research focusing on the importance of harvest festivals to communities across the globe.

Food will be available for purchase starting at 2:30 p.m. from UW’s Electric Eats food truck, featuring meal options from African, Hmong and Native American cuisines. Cash payment is preferred, but credit cards will also be accepted. 

Allen Centennial Garden is located at 620 Babcock Drive. Free parking is available in Lot 34 at 1480 Tripp Circle; in Lot 36 just west of Steenbock Library; and in Lot 40 behind Babcock Hall.

Rockefeller Center Turns Into A Dairy Farm Experience

Rockefeller Center Turns Into A Dairy Farm Experience

This week, Organic Valley launched a new campaign that highlights the importance of the food system and protecting small organic family farms.

According to Organic Valley, the U.S. is losing 100,000 family farms each decade. The cooperative adds the country faced record-high temperatures this summer leading to an uncertain future for food system resiliency.

To launch the campaign, “Protecting Where Your Food Comes From,” Climate Week NYC is getting its first-ever organic farm experience. Organic Valley is transforming the iconic Rockefeller Center Channel Gardens into a pop-up organic dairy farm experience.

Open to the public Sep. 20 and Sep. 21 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, this family-friendly farmstead comes alive with a series of hands-on, immersive activities. Climate Week attendees and New Yorkers alike will get to meet farmers without leaving the Big Apple. They’ll get to know real organic dairy farmers, sample Organic Valley’s farm-fresh dairy products, sit on a tractor, and dig into the stories of resilience and climate-friendly dairy innovation.

Organic Valley says its dairy farms average 24 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional dairy farms.

“There’s often a one-sided view presented about animal agriculture and a perceived need to reduce milk and meat consumption to lower carbon impact, but we aim to showcase the other side: ethically sourced organic dairy done right – organically on family farms,” says Jaclyn Cardin, Chief Brand Officer at Organic Valley.

While the event in NYC is a moment in time, the campaign is intended to live on for years.

More About The Campaign

New Yorkers will discover the campaign in subways, buses, billboards, and even a vivid painted mural in Brooklyn. It aims to inspire people to protect where their food comes from by choosing dairy from small organic family farms.

To amplify the reach and awareness of Organic Valley, the cooperative is also collaborating with Whole Foods Market for events.

Organic Valley is elevating the campaign through social media. Styled like wildlife documentaries, these videos showcase the rich biodiversity found on organic farms.

October Meeting Has The Latest In Food Safety Research

October Meeting Has The Latest In Food Safety Research

Register now to join fellow food safety and quality professionals at the Dairy Food Safety Alliance meeting, set for Oct. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All dairy manufacturers, processors, and industry suppliers are welcome to attend this hybrid event in Sun Prairie or via Zoom. See more details: https://www.wischeesemakersassn.org/

The alliance is a partnership between the Center for Dairy Research, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. It offers practical presentations on the latest in food safety research and regulatory practices. The meeting is a chance to reconnect with your peers in dairy processing.

“Food safety is the foundation of dairy processors’ success, and WCMA is proud to bring you the information and resources you need amid regulatory change and the evolution of consumer preferences,” says WCMA Contest Director Kirsten Strohmenger.

The October meeting will feature a presentation and panel on inspectors’ recent observations in dairy plants. Regulatory partners from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will offer updates. DFW’s Adam Brock will present on root cause analysis and quality tools. CDR’s Alex O’Brien will detail the new dairy recall tracker and sanitation preventive controls. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will present on Spanish language food safety training services.

This informational meeting costs just $45 per person to attend, which includes a networking lunch for in-person attendees. Questions may be directed to Strohmenger at kstrohmenger@wischeesemakers.org.

Brush Up On Your Harvest Season Safety Tips

Brush Up On Your Harvest Season Safety Tips

As the annual fall harvest season gets underway, Alliant Energy reminds farmers of the importance of staying safe when operating farm equipment near power lines.  

According to Alliant Energy, contact incidents with electric power lines significantly increase this time of year. In addition to the risk of an injury or fatality, contact with power lines can interrupt electric service. That can halt work and slow electricity-dependent farm activities such as grain drying.

To help keep farmers safe and the power on for all, follow these safety steps: 

  • Maintain a safe distance. Always stay at least 10 feet from all power lines and power poles. Conduct a thorough visual check of your surroundings.  
  • Know your equipment’s height. Do not drive under power lines if any part of your equipment is too tall to clear them. Consider the additional height of antennas and GPS receivers. If you purchased new equipment, don’t assume it has the same clearance as your old equipment.  
  • Do not attempt to raise power lines. Never try to elevate power lines to allow passage of tall equipment.    
  • Be aware of your turning radius. Make sure your tractor and anything you tow does not swing into poles or overhead lines when you turn. If you hit a power pole, it could break, dropping a live line. Assume it’s energized and call 1-800-ALLIANT immediately. 
  • Remain vigilant during grain handling and storage. Be cautious when you set up and move equipment, particularly when you use booms, augers and grain bins. Keep grain augurs in their lowest position and lower truck bed boxes before moving.   
  • Stay alert, especially when it gets dark. Know where poles and overhead lines are at all times.
  • Know what to do if an overhead line contacts equipment. Stay on the equipment. Do not step to the ground. Call 911 and wait until a qualified person tells you it is safe to exit the vehicle. If you must leave the equipment because of a fire or other danger, jump away from the vehicle to avoid touching the equipment and the ground at the same time. To the best of your ability, land with both feet together and then quickly shuffle away – keeping your feet together and on the ground. 

Click here for more safety tip information. 

Transitioning the Farm From One Generation to the Next

Transitioning the Farm From One Generation to the Next

Farm transition planning is a very important conversation that must eventually take place for farm families. As the average age of farmers increases, the need for new generations to take over the farm grows. Transitioning farms is important to ensuring that we can continue to have farmers in agriculture here in Wisconsin.

Mark Schmitz works for the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection as a Financial Consultant and Farm Transition Specialist. His specialty is working with farm families who are looking to pass their farm to either the next generation or a new farmer who is looking to get into agriculture.

The services that Schmitz provides have been offered since the Wisconsin Farm Center was created by DATCP in the 80’s. These services are provided free of charge for any farm family interested in taking advantage of them.

In his role, Schmitz will walk farm families through transition conversations. Those conversations revolve around financial planning and long-term goals. “Sometimes it’s nice to have a disinterested third party there to give their opinion on some of the thoughts and ideas the farmers are considering,” said Schmitz.

Open and honest communication is essential for this process to work well Schmitz shares. Schmitz says that “having clear lines of communication is one of the things we can help with the most.” That should include discussing what each party needs to live comfortably on and if they need to make changes to the operation.

Most of the families Schmitz work with are looking to pass the farm directly from one generation to the next. Oftentimes, farmers are looking to transition the farm to one heir and their spouse. Sometimes the goal is to transition the farm to multiple siblings. “Every situation is different…I really try to focus on the people involved and not the farm itself,” Schmitz states.

Fieldwork Chugs Along In Dry Weather

Fieldwork Chugs Along In Dry Weather

Some areas in the northern and southern parts of Wisconsin got rain in the past week, but most of the state remains dry. Wisconsin farmers are in the field harvesting corn for silage, cutting hay and planting winter wheat. Almost all of the oat crop has been harvested.

The latest crop progress report from USDA says corn in the dough stage or beyond was 96 percent. Eighty percent of the corn crop was dented, two days ahead of last year and the 5-year average. Thirty-two percent of the corn crop was mature. Corn condition was 51 percent good to excellent, up 1 percent from last week.

Corn for silage harvest was 37 percent complete, a week ahead of last year and a day ahead of the average.

Soybeans coloring was at 72 percent, a day ahead of last year. Twenty-nine percent of soybeans are dropping leaves. Soybean condition was 47 percent good to excellent, equal to last week.

Twenty-eight percent of the winter wheat crop has been planted, 4 days ahead of last year and 2 days ahead of average. Eight percent of the winter wheat crop has emerged.

Fifty-three percent of the potato crop has been harvested, 6 days ahead of last year and 5 days ahead of the average.

The fourth cutting of alfalfa was 81 percent complete, equal to last year but 10 days ahead of the average.
Pasture condition was rated 22 good to excellent statewide, equal to last week.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 29 percent very short, 35 percent short and 36 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture condition rated 31 percent very short, 37 percent short and 32 percent adequate.