Romanski Participates In National Dialog

Romanski Participates In National Dialog
This week, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary-designee Randy Romanski participated in the virtual 2021 National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Winter Policy Conference, held February 22-25, 2021. The robust agenda included policy updates, member updates, and consideration of policy amendments and action items.

“The theme of this year’s NASDA Winter Policy Conference was ‘Together at the Table,’ which especially in these unprecedented times, is fitting that states work together to address the challenges facing the agriculture industry and the entire food supply chain,” said DATCP Secretary-designee Romanski. “I am proud to be part of this inclusive organization that brings everyone to the table and to represent Wisconsin in these important conversations.”

Secretary-designee Romanski was active in the animal agriculture committee meeting, proposing two policy action items for the organization including encouraging the expansion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Meat Plant Modernization Grant eligibility and advocating for a One Health, Emergency Response in non-traditional situations. Both passed the committee unanimously.

“I am delighted my colleagues and I were able to pass these action items to promote additional resources for our nation’s small meat establishments and to encourage increased coordination between intergovernmental agencies and the industry, especially when there are new or emerging disease threats,” explained Secretary-designee Romanski. “As the country continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to utilize all available resources to create and protect processing and marketing opportunities for our livestock farmers and meat processors.”

Other committee meetings included: natural resources and environment, marketing and international trade, plant agriculture and pesticide regulation, food systems and nutrition, and rural development and financial security. In the opening plenary session, NASDA President Dr. Ryan Quarles highlighted the new NASDA Food Security Toolkit, which includes information about Wisconsin’s Food Security Initiative.

“While each state’s agriculture industry is unique, there are great opportunities for us to learn from each other’s experiences,” concluded Secretary-designee Romanski. “As the Wisconsin 2021-2023 biennial budget process continues, I was pleased to see that so many of the proposed investments made by Governor Tony Evers were mirrored in our NASDA discussions including developing markets, bolstering processing, promoting resiliency in the agriculture industry, and engaging agriculture to be involved in solutions to climate change.”

NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. NASDA priorities include: protecting the food supply chain, advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in agriculture, building and maintaining markets that advance local and rural economies, and promoting science-based solutions to climate challenges.

The 2021 NASDA Winter Policy Conference Post-Meeting Documents are available online at https://www.nasda.org/2021-nasda-winter-policy-conference-post-meeting-documents.


Keeping Kids Engaged In Livestock Learning

Keeping Kids Engaged In Livestock Learning
Great news!  The next round of entries in the Livestock Lessons program are due on March 19, 2021. The potential topics for your lessons are endless!  We would love for you to submit your 4-H demonstrations, FFA public speaking entries, any videos and written work that aligns with work you are already doing. This time period will allow us to see you talk about acquiring your animal project or caring for newborn animals. No matter what topic you choose, remember that the most impactful presentations are both accurate and engaging. Be creative, be funny, be serious, just be you! Think about something you have learned in your animal science project or something that you enjoy doing and prepare to share it.

Round 2 of the Wisconsin Livestock Lessons will include many ways for youth to show their work and interests. 

For grades 3-8: (only one submission per category)

  1. An oral video presentation.
  2. Written Public Service Announcement (PSA).

For grades 9-13th: (only one submission per category)

  1. An oral video presentation.
  2. Written Public Service Announcement (PSA).
  3. SAE Project Slides.

Livestock Lessons are open to all youth who are interested in the animal projects. Each youth can enter one submission in both oral presentation and written public service announcements. Entries will be divided into the following grade judging categories from the 2020-2021 school year: Junior (Grades 3-5); Intermediate (Grades 6-8); and Senior (Grades 9-13).  

For older youth grades, 9-13, there is a new entry category: SAE Project Slides. The SAE Project Slides are to assist older youth in framing out topics of interest and exploring careers, which can assist them in completing their SAE application. 

Each FFA Chapter that submits three or more SAE Project Entries will qualify for special recognition at the 2021 WAAE Professional Development Conference. The Wisconsin FFA Foundation will be supporting this new competition, with funds for qualifying chapters!

Submissions are due March 19.  The top entries in each division will receive monetary awards and may be featured on Wisconsin Youth Livestock Program social media, YouTube channels and other media outlets. 


Oral Video Presentations, Public Service Announcements (PSA), and SAE Google Slides must be submitted by March 19.

Thank you to our sponsors, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Pork Association, Wisconsin Beef Council, Wisconsin FFA Foundation and Wisconsin 4-H Foundation, who provided our winners with gift certificates to their favorite show supply store or Culver’s.

Additional program information and instructions on how to submit your Livestock Lessons can be found by going to the Wisconsin Youth Livestock Program site at https://bit.ly/LivestockLessons.

For more information or to view the winning videos and PSAs from the previous contest, check out the Wisconsin Youth Livestock Program Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/wisconsinyouthlivestock or Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/wiyouthlvstk/. There is a YouTube playlist of all the videos that can be reviewed.

If you have questions, contact Bernie O’Rourke, UW-Madison Animal & Dairy Sciences Extension Youth Livestock Specialist, at [email protected].


Confused About Resources Available To Your Farm

Confused About Resources Available To Your Farm
Join Wisconsin FSA for a four-part webinar series providing information about tools and resources available to producers. Each session will target a specific subset of resources, and producers and industry members are encouraged to attend all that apply to their operation. All events are free to participate in and will include a Question & Answer Session following program presentations.

Pre-registration is not needed. Utilize the virtual meeting links or call in numbers listed below to join each session. Please email [email protected] or call 608-662-4422 with any questions.

Session 1: Volatile Agriculture Markets and Risk Management – March 4, 2021, 12:00-1:00PM

Ag markets can be surprising, frustrating, and hard to predict. Join us to discuss the different Safety Net Programs available within FSA. As deadlines for some programs are approaching quickly, this session will specifically cover ARC/PLC and NAP.

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+1 202-650-0123,,315034918#   United States, Washington DC

Phone Conference ID: 315 034 918#

Session 2: New to Farming and looking for resources? – March 18, 2021, 12:00 – 1:00PM

This session will target Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, as well as those new to working with FSA. We will discuss online tools, how to find your local office contact information, what information you’ll need for your first appointment, as well as an overview of program and loan opportunities.

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+1 202-650-0123,,78311468#   United States, Washington DC

Phone Conference ID: 783 114 68#

Session 3: Need Funding? – April 1, 2021, 12:00-1:00PM

Need funding on your operation, but not sure where to get started? Join us to discuss Loan Opportunities with FSA, as well as an introduction to the application process. FSA loan staff will be on hand to answer questions.

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+1 202-650-0123,,588548090#   United States, Washington DC

Phone Conference ID: 588 548 090#

Session 4: Thinking about Conservation on your Operation? – April 15, 2021, 12:00-1:00PM

Join experts from WI FSA and NRCS to discuss the benefits of available conservation programs to improve conservation efforts on your operation. 

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+1 202-650-0123,,357177826#   United States, Washington DC

Phone Conference ID: 357 177 826#


Dunn County Working On CWD Eradication

Dunn County Working On CWD Eradication
Landowners on select parcels of private land in central Dunn County are eligible for free chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance permits. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) asks landowners within the surveillance area to apply for a permit to help the DNR better understand the extent of CWD in the area.

These permits are property-specific and available on select private land within the CWD surveillance area. Individuals who receive a permit must use the weapon choice listed on the permit. The permits are valid for any adult deer, either antlered or antlerless, and all deer harvested must be tested for CWD.

To obtain a CWD surveillance permit, contact DNR Wildlife Biologist Terry Shaurette at 608-386-2368. Please have your Go Wild customer ID ready when you call.

How To Have Your Adult Deer Tested For CWD

CWD testing is free of charge. Individuals who harvest an adult deer using a CWD surveillance authorization are responsible for having their deer tested for CWD. In addition to self-service kiosks, individuals can contact local DNR staff to schedule an appointment for sampling.

CWD results are uploaded to the DNR website as soon as they become available. To view CWD results for a harvested deer, enter your customer ID or CWD sample barcode number. Results are also sent via email or mail.

CWD In Wisconsin

In 2019, a CWD-positive wild deer was discovered in Red Cedar Township, Dunn County. CWD surveillance permits are being provided to those within the surveillance area to aid the DNR’s CWD research in the region.

CWD is a fatal, infectious nervous system disease of deer, moose, elk and reindeer/caribou. It belongs to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases. CWD occurs only in members of the Cervidae or deer family: both wild and farm-raised deer. The DNR began monitoring the state’s wild white-tailed deer population for CWD in 1999 and found the first positives in 2002.

For more information on CWD, visit the DNR’s website.


Eugster Gets WORF Scholarship

Eugster Gets WORF Scholarship
The Pat Duffy/Duffy Grain Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Foundation, Inc. (WORF) Board Scholar award winner is Katherine Eugster of Stoughton, Wis. She received a $1000 scholarship towards her education. Eugster was selected from over 300 applicants from rural Wisconsin.    

The daughter of Joe and Carol Eugster, Katherine is a 2020 graduate of Stoughton High School. She is currently attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison pursuing a degree in agricultural business management and environmental studies with a minor in Spanish. “I plan to continue my parents’ farm market, so an ag-business degree will greatly benefit me in the future,” says Eugster.    

Living on a farm her entire life, Eugster has accumulated a variety of skills and work experience including her hobby of showing goats for nearly a decade. Over the years she has garnered a number of awards including five grand champion honors. Additionally. Eugster has started and managed her own sunflower bouquet business featuring 32 different varieties and 22 thousand flowers. Euguster also did a field trial with Takii Seeds with some new varieties.    

During her high school tenure, Euguster was involved in 4-H and FFA, a member of the National Dairy Goat Association, in National Honor Society and a varsity letter winner. She also volunteered her time to give tour to socio-economically challenged school groups at the family’s Eugster’s Farm Market.    

The WROF is honored to announce the inaugural class of board scholars. Nine rural Wisconsin students were selected to receive a scholarship that is funded and supported by a board member of WROF.    

“Duffy Grain is proud to be able to participate in the Wisconsin Rural opportunities Foundation Board Scholars program, promoting further education in Wisconsin,” stated board member Pat Duffy.    

Since 1934, the Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Foundation, Inc. has invested in the education of people from rural Wisconsin so they, in turn, can transform and improve the economic health and quality of life in their rural areas. As a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, more than 6000 individuals have received over $6.2 million in scholarships and grants in agricultural and rural health care education in over 30 different Wisconsin educational institutions and programs.


Concentrating On The Workplace

Concentrating On The Workplace
Creating a safe and healthy workspace takes specific actions and changes, but it can have a significant ROI as a result of direct savings, reduced insurance rates, better workplace productivity and a happier workplace.  

“Most estimates suggest it costs almost one-third of a year’s wages to bring on a new farm worker including the costs of waiting, workarounds, recruiting, training, and getting a new worker up to speed,” said John Shutske, UW-Madison professor and Extension Specialist. “It’s far better to keep current workers safe, healthy and fully engaged so they want to work on your operation, knowing you have a full commitment to their health and well-being.” 

Building a Positive Farm Business Culture, with employee safety and health is the first of two Farm Management Friday webinars in March. The second webinar will explore resources available to help your farm startup. These webinars hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension. Farm Management Friday webinars are a part of Extension’s FarmReady Research winter programming for farmers and ag professionals. 

March topics and presenters include: 

  • March 5: Building a Positive Farm Business Culture, with employee safety & health. This meeting will explore how farms can become positive places to work during COVID-19, which will help attract and retain good employees. Join Extension Specialist John Shutske, UW Center for Agriculture Safety & Health and Extension educators Jim Versweyveld, Walworth County, Maria Jose Fuenzalida, Dane County and a panel of experts in exploring ways to create a culture on your farm that promotes safety and health to achieve top performance, enhance teamwork, and help you empower your team for long-term success. 
  • March 19: Your farm startup: Where to begin and who can help? Whether you’re currently farming and want to explore a new idea or someone new on the farming scene, this session will help you figure out where to start. Learn about tools, people, and resources available in the state that can help you explore your farm dreams. We will hear from Extension Specialist/UW-Platteville Professor Kevin Bernhardt, and Extension Agriculture Educators Leigh Presley Kenosha and Racine County, Steph Plaster Ozaukee and Washington Counties, and Ben Jenkins Green Lake County, and from UW Food Finance Institute 

There is no charge to participate in the sessions, but pre-registration is required to allow access to the session. Extension recognizes that producers are receiving information for a lot of meetings this winter; the Farm Ready Research webinar website go.wisc.edu/FarmReadyResearch is your place to find all information about UW-Madison Extension Agriculture programs. 

A sample week of Extension agricultural webinars begins on Tuesdays with Badger Dairy Insight from 1-2:30 p.m. and Wisconsin Beef Special Edition from 7-8:30 p.m.; Wednesdays focus on Small Ruminants from 7:30 – 9 p.m.; and then it’s Farm Management Fridays from 11 a.m. – noon. 


Protecting Consumers In A Complex Marketplace

Protecting Consumers In A Complex Marketplace
As part of National Consumer Protection Week, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is inviting the public to a forum intended to help consumers identify and avoid scams and pitfalls in a complex marketplace.

The event will take place virtually on Zoom on Thursday, March 4 from noon to 1:00 p.m. U.S. Representative Gwen Moore will provide an introduction at the summit. Additionally, DATCP, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and the Federal Trade Commission will give presentations before responding to questions from participants.

A wide variety of consumer issues such as robocalls, COVID-related scams, student loan debt, predatory lending, landlord-tenant issues, and predatory and deceptive automotive sales practices, are expected to be covered.

Registration is not required, but space is limited to 350, so participants are encouraged to join promptly. For the event information and access link, visit datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/ConsumerProtection.aspx.

Consumers across the state are encouraged to utilize DATCP’s Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at (800) 422-7128 or by email: [email protected] for information on current scams, consumer laws and publications, and how to file a complaint. Contact Consumer Protection when you have questions about topics such as auto repair, deceptive advertising, home improvement, identity theft, landlord-tenant issues, telemarketing, or “too good to be true” offers. Consumer Protection fact sheets and additional resources can be found on our website at www.datcp.wi.gov.


2020 Was A Big Crop Year In Wisconsin

2020 Was A Big Crop Year In Wisconsin
The production of Wisconsin’s field and miscellaneous crops was valued at $4.14 billion in 2020, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Crop Values 2020 Summary. This was a 33% increase from 2019.

The value of corn for grain production totaled $2.14 billion, up 41% from the previous year. Wisconsin’s corn price averaged $4.15 per bushel, an increase of 72 cents from the last marketing year.

Up 61% from 2019, the value of soybean production was $1.08 billion. The average price increased $2.28 from the previous year to $10.70 per bushel.

Value of production increased from 2019 to 2020 for barley, alfalfa hay, and oats. Value of production decreased from 2019 to 2020 for other hay, potatoes, rye, and winter wheat.

As far as counties impacted – Rock County tops the list!

In 2020, farmers in Rock County led the State in soybean production with 5.03 million bushels according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Dodge (4.43 million), Grant (4.35 million), Dane (4.26 million), and Lafayette (3.79 million) rounded out the top five counties with the highest production.

Statewide, two counties averaged over 60.0 bushels per acre. Lafayette County had the highest yield with an average of 65.4 bushels per acre. Grant (60.6), Iowa (59.8), Dodge (58.1) and Green (56.9) rounded out the top five highest yielding counties. Bayfield County recorded the lowest average yield at 28.5 bushels per acre.

Rock County was the largest corn-producing county with 27.2 million bushels. Dane, Lafayette, Dodge, and Grant rounded out the top five. Columbia County was the only other county that produced over 20 million bushels of corn for grain.

Lafayette led all counties in Wisconsin with a county average yield of 205.2 bushels per acre. Dodge (202.3), Green (195.1), Rock (194.4), and Iowa (192.5) counties rounded out the top five highest yielding counties. Thirteen counties exceeded the 180 bushel per acre yield mark for 2020.

In 2020, Dane County led all Wisconsin counties in total corn silage production, with 1.09 million tons according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Fond du Lac (942,000), Manitowoc (863,000), Dodge (811,000) and Clark (804,000) rounded out the top five highest producing counties.

Columbia and Dane Counties tied for the highest yield with an average of 25.5 tons per acre. Lafayette was in third place with a yield of 25.0 tons per acre. There were 18 counties that had an average yield of 23.0 or more tons per acre.


Wisconsin Farm Bureau Seeks Director of Media Relations and Outreach

Wisconsin Farm Bureau Seeks Director of Media Relations and Outreach
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau is seeking a director of media relations and outreach.

This position oversees WFBF’s media relations efforts, social media strategy and advertising. This director of media relations and outreach will provide editorial content for Rural Route and other publications; develop and maintain partnerships with external partners; and manage special projects as assigned.

This is a full-time position.

General Responsibilities

1. Coordinate and oversee all WFBF’s media relations. This includes writing news releases, columns and policy briefings, conducting media interviews and handling media inquiries to promote WFBF positions, policies, activities and strategies.

2. Plan, coordinate and oversee WFBF’s social media strategy and content.

3. Provide content, coordinate and maintain the organization’s website and blog.

4. Provide editorial content as assigned for the Rural Route magazine. 

5. Coordinate all advertising to promote WFBF.

6. Provide media and social media training for members as requested.

7. Develop and maintain partnerships with external organizations and manage other special projects as assigned.

8. Assume other duties as requested by the Executive Director of Public Relations.

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in communication, journalism, English, marketing or a related field.
  • Proficiency using Microsoft Word, InDesign, Excel, Access, Premiere Pro, PowerPoint and/or Prezi.
  • Ability to proactively work on multiple projects simultaneously and effectively juggle diverse communication demands.
  • Position requires independent work and creative skills.
  • Fluent written and verbal communication skills, with high attention to grammar and written presentation.
  • Must possess a basic understanding and appreciation of Wisconsin’s agriculture industry.  
  • Available for occasional overnight travel.
  • Valid driver’s license.

Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization representing farms of all sizes, commodities and management styles.


Kriss Marion On Board

Kriss Marion On Board
Kriss Marion of Blanchardville has signed on as communications director for the collaborative Wisconsin Women in Conservation (WiWIC) project. The initiative will bring together women through a variety of workshops, field days and mentorship opportunities, kicking off with March and April virtual workshops throughout the state. The three-year project is a collaborative effort led by the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in partnership with Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU), Renewing the Countryside and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), with support from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“Kriss is uniquely suited to lead this project, given her passion for rural Wisconsin, communications strengths, hands-on conservation experiences on her own farm, and the role she has played in protecting her local watershed,” said WFU Executive Director Julie Keown-Bomar. “She knows how conservation fits into a bigger picture of land preservation and food security, and we’re pleased to have her join the WFU team.”

Marion lives in Lafayette County, where she runs a bed and breakfast on her diversified market farm. She is a county board supervisor with a history of conservation advocacy and leadership, having served several terms on her county Land Conservation Committee and on the WI Land+Water Policy Committee. She is the founder and a board member of Pecatonica Pride Watershed Association, a producer-led watershed protection council. Marion also serves on a Water Action Volunteer (WAV) stream monitoring team that assesses water quality on tributary streams, and she sits on the River Alliance of Wisconsin board of directors.

Marion and her husband Shannon implemented a number of conservation practices on their property – including pollinator habitat restoration and managed grazing of sheep to control invasives in a sedge wetland. They have a hoophouse and irrigation systems paid for through conservation cost-share programs.

 “Conservation is contagious. In my experience, you start with one small project and you enjoy the results so much, you become addicted to making your land better – for future generations, but also for your own pleasure,” says Marion, who has partnered on several projects with NRCS, and has more in the works.

Marion also has a long history of involvement in community organizing around rural issues. She was the founding president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union South Central Chapter and a founding member of the annual Soil Sisters Tour of southern Wisconsin farms.

 “The future of rural communities, and all communities, is dependent on how seriously we take stewardship,” said Marion. “Soil conservation, habitat preservation, wetland restoration, water protection – these concepts aren’t just nice ideas – they’re about food security, economic development, flood mitigation, and survival. I’m excited to connect more women with the inspiration, knowledge and resources to do this important and satisfying work on their land.”

Marion can be reached at [email protected] or 608-844-3758. For more information on the March events and to register for the statewide newsletter, visit www.wiwic.org.