Keeping Chocolate Milk in Schools

Keeping Chocolate Milk in Schools

Today, Congressman Tom Tiffany (WI-07), joined by seven members of Congress, introduced H.R. XX, the Milk is Indisputably Liked by Kids Act of 2023 – or MILK Act for short. This bill would amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to require schools to offer flavored milk under the school lunch program.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering banning chocolate milk from elementary and middle schools. This comes after the USDA issued a proposed rule in February that would set new nutrition standards for school meals. The new standards could limit the amount of flavored milk, such as chocolate and strawberry.

“Providing our children access to a healthy and nutritious product is the fundamental basis to maintain a healthy diet. Millions of children rely on the nutrition from milk to help them grow and develop. We applaud Congressman Tiffany and the other cosponsors.” said Brody Stapel, President of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.  

According to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, removing flavored milk from schools resulted in a 62-63 percent reduction in milk consumption by kids in kindergarten through 5th grade, as well as a 50 percent reduction in 6th through 8th grades.

The Biden administration’s proposed new nutrition standards will affect roughly 30 million students who participate in the USDA’s school meal programs.

The full text of Rep. Tiffany’s MILK Act can be found here.

Roads Given The Green Light

Roads Given The Green Light

Senate Bill (SB) 247, also known as the Agricultural Roads Improvement Program (ARIP), co-authored by Senator Howard Marklein and Representative Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City), passed the Senate Wednesday with unanimous, bi-partisan support. This legislation creates a new $150 million grant program for the improvement of agricultural roads to help ag producers and suppliers move goods to and from the farm.
“The funding in ARIP is targeted to the first-mile roads and bridges that farmers use every day,” Marklein said. “These are the small, Class B and weight-restricted roads that connect our farms to county and state highways. Unfortunately, many of these roads are in awful condition and our small towns need financial support to maintain and improve them. This program fills this need.”
“This is a wise investment of the one-time funds in our state surplus,” Marklein said. “This bill is widely supported by the entire ag-industry.”
“Investing in rural road infrastructure is an investment in the economic growth, safety, and connectivity of our rural communities in Wisconsin. By prioritizing funding for rural roads, we will ensure that our farmers, businesses and residents have reliable and efficient transportation networks to thrive and contribute to the overall prosperity of our state,” said Dairy Business Association Director of Government Affairs Chad Zuleger.

Class B roads are the rural, country roads on which many farms are located.  Farmers, and their suppliers, must navigate these roads to move goods to and from the farm. Unfortunately, for most towns, these are low-traffic, low-priority roads, but they are very important to the farmers who live and work on them. The goal of the program is to repair these roads and small bridges so that they will no longer be weight-restricted. The ARIP bill includes prioritization criteria to ensure money is used most effectively.
“We prioritize projects that increase access to the largest number of farmers, are located on the oldest roads, lead to the largest reduction in deferred or repeated trips, have the greatest economic impact, target roads where the only feasible access to a farm is a single road, and provide funding to towns that cannot otherwise afford to maintain or repair these roads,” Marklein said.
SB 247 passed the Senate on Wednesday, June 7, 2023 unanimously. It will now be considered by the State Assembly.

Tractor Safety Courses A Good Idea

Tractor Safety Courses A Good Idea

Tractor safety courses are an important part of the summer for youth and adults who will be operating any machinery whether it’s on the farm or in the yard. It’s also an important lesson for teens that will soon be getting their driver’s licenses and sharing the road with implements.

These are all points emphasized by Steve Okonek, the Extension agent for Jackson and Trempealeau counties.

“We have so many tractors on roads now. Farms are bigger, they’re more spread-out, they’re covering more geography, so farmers are spending more miles on the road in their equipment,” he says. “It’s important that not only the farmers and the operators are aware of the safety around equipment, but the general public and automobile drivers are aware of that also.”

Okonek will be teaching one of the tractor safety courses happening around the state this summer. His course will be at Black River Falls High School in late June. You can find a list of tractor safety courses near you this summer at the UW-Madison Division of Extension’s website:

In addition to road safety, tractor safety covers: hitching and unhitching equipment; safety around moving/rotating elements, such as a Power Take-Off or PTO shaft; hooking and unhooking hydraulics — oil under pressure for raising and lowering implements; driving test; skid steers; and livestock handling.

He says as technology has increased, tractor safety has had to incorporate new lessons, like limiting distractions. While some elements of technology have increased safety (seat sensors that turn off a combine, for example), the computers and touch screens in new tractors can be a distraction. Okonek compares it to playing on your phone while driving.

“Our technology has helped us and made tractors and farming in general safer, but at the same time, there’s other things we need to be aware of, and farming is still one of the top three most dangerous professions that we have in this country,” he says.

He reminds listeners that you don’t have to be a teenager to take the course. If you’re in your 30s or 40s and just bought your first tractor, consider taking the course. You do have to be at least 12 years old. At age 12, with the tractor safety certification, you can operate a tractor on your parents’ or guardians’ farm. Once you’re 14, you can operate a tractor on someone else’s farm for hire.

Nine Join DFW Board

Nine Join DFW Board

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has certified the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW) 2023 Board of Directors election results. On July 1, 2023, the following dairy producers will begin a three-year term as elected members of the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin:

District 1: Brenda Schloneger, Shell Lake
Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron Rusk, Sawyer, and Washburn counties

District 4: Andrew Christenson, Amery
Barron and Polk counties                                                     

District 7: David Bangart, Greenwood
Clark County

District 10: Tasha Schleis, Kewaunee
Brown, Door, and Kewaunee counties

District 13: Jonathon Hallock, Mondovi
Buffalo, Pepin, and Pierce counties

District 16: Janet Clark, Rosendale
Fond du Lac, Green Lake, and Marquette counties

District 19: Mark Crave, Watertown
Columbia and Dodge counties

District 22: Ann Kieler, Platteville
Grant County

District 25: Kristen Metcalf, Milton
Green, Rock, and Walworth counties

There were 14 certified candidates running for nine board member positions. Of the 2,704 dairy producers living in affected districts, 12.3 percent returned ballots. District 25, which had two candidates on the ballot, recorded the most election participation with 17.9 percent of the eligible producers in that district returning ballots. The election closed May 23, 2023.

For more information on DFW, the 2023 Board of Directors election, and elected director biography information, visit DFW’s website at

DATCP administers elections for Wisconsin commodity marketing boards. To learn more about the market order boards, visit

WI Auctioneers Partner With Dairy Breakfast

WI Auctioneers Partner With Dairy Breakfast

The Dane County Dairy Breakfast on the Farm is going to add a unique element to their annual event this Saturday – adding an auction!

It was the idea of family member, Riley Kahl, when he found out his home farm would be hosting the event that routinely attracts more than 5,000 guests. Kahl is the current president of the Wisconsin Auctioneers Association. Kahl says today many people have never experienced the excitement of a live, face-to-face auction, so he worked to change that.

Saturday at 11:30, after everyone’s enjoyed their fill of dairy knowledge and a wonderful meal, Riley and his fellow auctioneers will take to the stage and conduct an auction. He says they’ll rotate between available WAA members available to give the audience a sense of different auctioneering styles and delivery.

DBIA Awards $2.3 Million

DBIA Awards $2.3 Million

The Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA), a partnership between the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) and the Center for Dairy Research (CDR) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison today announced the 26 companies and cooperatives that have been selected to receive Dairy Business Builder grants totaling $2.3 million. This year’s awardees hail from all 11 states served by DBIA. Eighteen of the 26 businesses are receiving a DBIA grant for the first time, and 12 are farmsteads.  

The Alliance is one of four Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives across the country. The creation of the nationwide program in the 2018 Farm Bill, and Wisconsin’s inclusion, were championed by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin).

“Dairy businesses are a key part of our state’s identity and major drivers of our state’s economy, and I am thrilled that these innovative businesses are continuing that legacy,” said Sen. Baldwin. “It is critical that our cheesemakers, farmers, and dairy processors have the tools they need to develop new dairy products and adapt to market changes, and I am so proud to help provide those resources so they can accomplish that and move our Made in Wisconsin economy forward.” 

DBIA’s Dairy Business Builder grant program aims to encourage small- to medium-sized dairy farmers, entrepreneurs, and processors to pursue innovative projects such as dairy farm diversification, on-farm processing, value-added product creation, and efforts to market dairy products for export. Reimbursement grants of up to $100,000 each are awarded following a competitive review process.  

“These grants have become an important factor in helping support the growth of our dairy businesses in our region as they continue to innovate by creating new products or expanding their markets,” said CDR Director John Lucey.  

“This group of projects showcases the innovative spirit and drive of our dairy industry. We’re pleased to help these businesses, and the industry as a whole, continue to grow and thrive,” said WCMA Executive Director John Umhoefer. 

Companies and cooperatives receiving Dairy Business Builder Grants are:  

  • Beauty View Dairy Products – Wahoo, Nebraska
  • Berning Acres – East Dubuque, Illinois
  • BoBell Cheese Company – Burbank, Ohio
  • Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin – Darlington, Wisconsin
  • Concept Processing – Melrose, Minnesota
  • Dairy Distillery Alliance – Novi, Michigan
  • DARI – Clinton, Wisconsin
  • Eau Galle Cheese Factory – Durand, Wisconsin
  • Farm Life Creamery – Ethan, South Dakota
  • Farm Stapels – Cedar Grove, Wisconsin
  • Hastings Creamery – Hastings, Minnesota
  • Hildebrand Farms Dairy – Junction City, Kansas
  • Hill Valley Dairy – East Troy, Wisconsin
  • Landmark Creamery – Belleville, Wisconsin
  • Marieke Gouda – Thorp, Wisconsin
  • Rolling Hills Dairy Producers Co-op – Monroe, Wisconsin
  • Rosewood Dairy – Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
  • Royal Guernsey Creamery – Columbus, Wisconsin
  • Sartori Cheese – Plymouth, Wisconsin
  • Schulte Dairy – Norway, Iowa
  • SCREAM – Fairfield, Iowa
  • Terrell Creek Farm – Fordland, Missouri
  • Tulip Tree Creamery – Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Two Cows Creamery – Hot Springs, South Dakota
  • Uplands Cheese – Dodgeville, Wisconsin
  • Widmer’s Cheese Cellars – Theresa, Wisconsin

The DBIA is supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since its inception, the DBIA has now administered over $9.4 million in grants to 103 dairy businesses in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The program also offers technical assistance and education to dairy farmers and processors in the region. The

next grant application period will open on August 28. 

Badger Crop Connect Special Topic: Drought

Badger Crop Connect Special Topic: Drought

A Special Badger Crop Connect program is scheduled for Friday June 9th beginning at 9:00 AM. Much of the state of WI is currently experiencing a “flash drought”. When is it time to begin implementing drought readiness strategies on your farm?

A series of topics will be discussed with a quick paced format to connect growers with resources to
assist decision-making. The topics will include impact of weather on historic crop yield potential, seasonal weather patterns, critical grain development stages, soil fertility decisions in dry conditions, alternative forage options, soil moisture management, federal crop insurance risk management, and FSA program assistance.

To register for this Zoom webinar visit the Badger Crop Connect webpage at

AgrAbility of Wisconsin Welcomes New Communications Intern

AgrAbility of Wisconsin Welcomes New Communications Intern

AgrAbility of Wisconsin welcomes Julianne Renner as its new Communications Intern for the summer 2023 season. Renner is currently a graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Life Sciences Communication department. Before starting school at UW-Madison, Renner was a park ranger with the National Park Service at several different national park units for over four years.

“I am very excited to begin this position with AgrAbility of Wisconsin,” says Renner. “I hope to help spread the message about this fantastic program and learn more about the agricultural community in Wisconsin.”

This internship is in partnership with the University of Wisconsin’s Agricultural Research Stations (ARS). Renner will be representing AgrAbility and UW ARS at events like Farm Technology Days (July 18-20), the North American Manure Expo (August 9-10), Hemp Field Day (August 17), and other ARS events and field days. She will also be working to spread awareness for these events and programs through media outreach, printed campaigns, social media and in-person promotions.

“With her background working at Lake Mead as a park guide, Julianne already has excellent experience working with the public,” says Andrea Klahn, AgrAbility of Wisconsin Outreach Specialist. “She’s going to be a great fit for helping share the message of the UW research stations and our AgrAbility program with the people of Wisconsin.”

Since 1991, AgrAbility of Wisconsin has been promoting success in agriculture for farmers with disabilities and their families. AgrAbility of Wisconsin is a partnership between the University of Wisconsin Division of Extension and Easterseals Wisconsin. To learn more, contact us at (608) 262-9336 and

More Weather Stations Coming To Wisconsin

More Weather Stations Coming To Wisconsin

Wisconsin weather has become increasingly more unpredictable and extreme since the 1950s, posing challenges for farmers, researchers, and the public. According to the latest update from the Wisconsin Vegetable Crop Update, a statewide network of weather stations known as a mesonet, could be getting some significant enhancements to deal with the future obstacles of a changing climate.

“Mesonets can guide everyday decision-making for the protection of crops, property, and people’s lives while also supporting research, extension and education,” says Chris Kucharik, professor and chair of the UW–Madison Department of Agronomy, as well as faculty member with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

Kucharik is leading a major project to expand Wisconsin’s mesonet network with assistance from Mike Peters, director of UW–Madison’s Agricultural Research Stations.

Unlike many other agricultural states, Wisconsin’s current network of environmental monitoring stations is minimal. Almost half of the 14 weather and soil monitoring stations are at UW research stations, with the others concentrated in Kewaunee and the Door Counties on private fruit orchards. Data from these stations is currently hosted by Michigan State University’s mesonet.

Moving forward, these stations will move to a designated Wisconsin-based mesonet — called Wisconet — and the total number of stations will increase to 90 to better monitor all regions of the state. This effort is supported by a $2.3 million grant from the Wisconsin Rural Partnership, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded UW initiative, as well as $1 million from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The expansion of this network is seen as a critical step in providing the highest quality data and information to those who need it.

Each station contains equipment to measure atmospheric and soil conditions. Instruments above ground measure wind speed and direction, humidity, air temperature, solar radiation, and liquid precipitation. Below ground, soil temperature and moisture levels are measured at certain depths.

Data from Wisconsin’s existing stations can currently be accessed on Michigan State’s “Enviro-weather” website but will be switched over to a Wisconsin-focused site — at — sometime this summer.

Kucharik and his team are working to build a simple, open-access site where users can not only view and download station data in real-time but find practical guidance for using that data to make real-world decisions.

Wisconsin’s Wind Potential

Wisconsin’s Wind Potential

Many see renewable energy as the way of the future. There have been several large scale solar energy projects advancing across the state as well as the first wind farm in 6 years, the Red Barn Wind Park in Grant County, going live. Does this mean Wisconsin is going all in on the development of renewable energy?

Matt Boor, a consultant for wind energy companies, says that there is good potential for Wisconsin’s wind future. Boor says that Wisconsin “does have some good resources, especially along the Niagara Escarpment” which runs along the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago. Locations where there is a change in elevation are typically good places for wind farms.  

The technology has also dramatically improved in the last decade, so much so that specialists can measure wind speed and analyze microclimates to determine where an ideal location for a wind farm would be. Retrieving and analyzing this data is essential for wind developers to best harness the energy potential of wind. 

Wind turbines are predominantly located on agricultural land. Boor shared that the benefits for farmers to have turbines on their land includes payments that are typically around $20,000 a year, the ability to continue working most of the land around the turbine and the service road leading up to it, as well as benefits to the local economy from the construction. 

When asked about the future of wind energy in Wisconsin, Boor said, “there is definitely an opportunity for wind energy to have some good wood wins and be a good partner to a lot of people in Wisconsin.”