March 22, 2013
From lacrossetribune.com: “Farmland prices booming across region” –Agricultural land prices are booming in the Coulee Region and across the nation, prompting some experts to worry that farm expansion could be creating an agricultural bubble.
West-central Wisconsin sold more agricultural acreage than any other part of the state in 2012, for an average of $3,246 an acre. Most land was purchased for continued farm use.
Crop prices are driving up land prices, said Dennis Deitelhoff, a farm business production management instructor with Western Technical College.
Some farmers are expanding, trying to make the most of crop prices while the getting is good.
But if crop prices sputter and farmland loan rates rise, farmers could find themselves in the midst of a bust similar to the housing collapse.
“I think that land values will correct,” Deitelhoff said. “That’s just natural economics.”
Nationally, farmer-held debt is expected to reach $277.4 billion this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture — more than $60 billion more than 2007.
For farmers looking to cash out, current land prices have them in line for some sweet deals. But the high values carry risk for expanding farmers looking down the road.
Locally, Deitelhoff believes that expansion has been managed well.
“Most of the people making these land purchases are making them because they can,” he said. “The lion’s share are being made by those who have the wherewithal to do it.”
More than 20,000 acres of farmland in the west-central region, which includes La Crosse, Jackson, Trempealeau, and Buffalo counties, were sold for continued agricultural purposes in 2011, according to Department of Agriculture statistics.
That’s almost double the amount sold for the same purpose in 2009.
Purchasing escalated despite rising prices. Since 2007, average prices per acre have jumped $500. In addition to crop prices, sand mining and development demand have continued to buoy land values.
Farmers looking to cash out are in line to reap the profits of high values. However, current prices can make it difficult for aspiring land owners to break into farming.
Perhaps it makes sense that some new landowners have more interest in finances than farming; investors are buying land and then renting it to farmers, using rent to reap profits.
In November, a division of the Swiss bank UBS purchased 9,800 acres in Grant County for $68 million dollars.
While international players haven’t entered the La Crosse area, local investors have begun to take an interest in farmland.
Teresa Gutenberger, a senior appraiser with Badgerland Financial in Sparta, said that such owners, while uncommon, have begun to snap up area farmland.
Prices vary across state, nation
While the west-central region sold the most agricultural acreage in the state, its prices ranked in the middle of the pack. The state average for 2012 was $3,602 per acre.
“Location is an important determinant of value,” the report said.
The east-central region, which includes Fox Cities and Green Bay, had the highest average land prices at $5,228 per acre. The north-central region, stretching north from Clark and Marathon counties, had the lowest average prices, only $2,176 per acre.
The report cited increased competition for land use as the major factor influencing values.
Dairy farmers haven’t benefited from the increase, Dietelhoff said. Their prices haven’t kept pace with crops.
Cropland value jumped 7.1 percent in the state from 2011 to 2012, while pasture land value inched up 1.9 percent, according to USDA statistics.
Wisconsin’s growth lags behind the nation and rest of the Midwest.
Farm real estate value, which projects the value of a farm’s land and buildings, rose 7.4 percent, below the national average of 10.4 percent.
Minnesota saw a 20.9 percent jump; Iowa’s was even steeper, at 22.8 percent.
From wsaw.com: “NTC Agriculture Center for Excellence making future bright for Ag” – Located just north of Wausau on Highway K, the Northcentral Technical College Agriculture Center for Excellence sits on 110 acres of land. It opened up in 2011. From the outside, it resembles your typical farm, but walk inside and you’ll find that something sets it apart from most. “The biggest difference here is because it’s a school but otherwise the rest of it is pretty much, we try to keep it as close to a regular family farm is what we can,” says Dan Radtke, a herdsman.
There are barns, pastures, and even equipment and let’s not forget livestock. There are 36 milking cows, 3 dry cows, 28 bred heifers, 18 yearling heifers, and 9 calves. “The need for Agriculture is always going to be there, whether it’s directly related to Agriculture through the production side of it or through the feed mills and cooperatives on that side of it,” says Katie Mihlbauer, the Ag Sciences Development Manager.
That’s why this center was built. Dozens of students enroll each year in four programs offered through NTC. They are Vet Science, Dairy Science, Agribusiness, and an Ag Equipment Technician program. “There’s a big variety of classroom followed up by hands on and that’s kind of the basis of the program and the whole idea to having this whole facility is that they get that hole hands on training that so much of them desire and that they need,” she says.
Students get to spend time with cattle, vaccinating and dehorning them, they even get to learn about the animals. “The biggest thing with the cattle is you have to listen to what they’re telling you, not everybody understands that part of it. See how this cow lies at an angle in this stall? She’s lying at an angle in this stall because there’s a wooden brisket board here and when she gets up she lunges ahead and she hits that brisket board so she tries to lay so she doesn’t hit the board,” says Radtke.
Students also get to learn some of the latest and greatest farming technology out there, including a robotic milker, robotic feeder, and even farm equipment with GPS. “The biggest challenge we have at the college is not to stay the same but to always have the vision to look ahead of what next is coming and anticipate so we can have the students ready when the technology is here,” he says.
But no matter how technology changes, or the challenges the Agricultural industry faces, one thing is certain. “People need to eat, and so the need for Agriculture is always going to be there. What scale it’s on, the education and the skills need to be there and they need to be taught,” says Mihlbauer.
March 4, 2013
From gazettextra.com: “Group fundraising for ag events, education center in Evansville” – EVANSVILLE — A private group hopes to build a regional agricultural events and education center in Evansville that also could host the Rock County 4-H Fair and Blackhawk Technical College agriculture courses.
Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group last year paid $2.17 million for 217 acres at the southeastern corner of Highway 14 and County M on Evansville’s east side.
If SWAG can raise at least $25 million, it plans to build an agricultural education and innovation complex. It would focus on educating people about and engaging them in agriculture and promoting and protecting the industry.
“The ag industry has relied on people who don’t understand the ag industry to tell the story for years and years and years,” said Kevin Klahn, vice president of the group’s board. “It’s time for us to be proactive and tell our story … in a positive way and help people understand.”
Board members of the group met with The Gazette to share their vision.
About 40 acres would be used for commercial development, and 80 to 100 acres would be dedicated to agriculture activities. The rest would remain working farmland for test plots and future growth.
Commercial development could include a retail store, restaurants or a hotel.
“It’s likely to be businesses that complement the project, but we don’t know specifically,” said board member John Morning, an Evansville developer with a history in agriculture.
SWAG sees potential to showcase Wisconsin products or feature menus of Wisconsin food.
The commercial development could generate more than 300 jobs, said Kennan Wood, of Wood Communications Group, which was hired by the agriculture group to help with the project. Commercial developments could increase the city’s tax base by $30 million to $35 million, he said.
That doesn’t take into account the regional effect of visitors spending money during their trips, sales tax and hotel taxes, Morning said.
The project hinges on a fundraising feasibility study, measuring whether enough money could be raised to move ahead. The study is expected to be done in spring, and if everything moves along, groundbreaking could be sometime in 2014. The hope is to get financial help from agribusinesses and agriculture associations across the state.
The complex would include:
– A 40,000-square-foot agriculture discovery center providing a high-tech, hands-on, interactive learning experience. It would include all aspects of agriculture in Wisconsin and showcase industry advancements and innovations. The center would operate year-round and charge an entrance fee.
Wood said the group conservatively estimates 150,000 visitors in the first year, increasing to 216,000 by the third year.
“We think that that’s very doable given the region we’re in,” Wood said.
The group would market aggressively to schools within a 100-mile radius, and Wisconsin has nothing like it, Wood said.
“We think it’s really important that ag steps up and tells its story, gets kids excited about it and helps the next generation of ag leaders get engaged,” he said.
They envision a Chicago family headed to Wisconsin Dells or north for skiing but stopping at the complex to explore for a few hours, said Klahn, who runs Klondike Farms, a cash grain and custom farming operation in Brooklyn.
– A 20,000-square-foot agriculture education campus of classrooms and labs for grades K-12 and youth organizations. Blackhawk Tech has committed to an additional 9,000 square feet for its programs.
Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group believes there’s a strong need for agriculture education facilities, Wood said, which was proven in talks with Blackhawk Tech, the Evansville School District, a charter school and others.
Technology could be used to deliver curriculum and distance learning to the rest of the state and the Midwest, he said.
Local businesses have said they need corporate training facilities, Wood said, “so we think we could build in that type of capacity in this particular area and help those businesses train current workers, but also new workers.”
– An agriculture expo area, including a 45,000-square-foot exhibition hall and possibly, in phases, a grandstand, amphitheater/stage, dedicated equestrian facility, camping, midway area, livestock barns, outdoor demonstration and show areas and demonstration gardens. The facilities would be a year-round resource for youth organizations in the Midwest and help develop the next generation of agricultural leaders, Wood said.
The group’s feasibility study highlights a need for equestrian facilities.
“We think that’s a need we can fill easily that fits into our mission,” Wood said.
The complex wouldn’t include an operating farm, but it could include a birthing barn.
The group has talked with local leaders about moving the Rock County 4-H Fair to the complex, but group members said their plans don’t hinge on the fair moving to Evansville.
“This is about us providing an opportunity,” Wood said. “It’s up to them whether or not they want to move.”
The complex has to be self-supporting. The discovery center would provide daily revenue, and the group hopes the expo area would host 200 to 300 events annually, Wood said.
“I think it would be huge if they can pull this off,” UW-Extension Agent Jim Stute said.
Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group sees the dwindling public support for agricultural education, he said. That includes UW-Extension and FFA programs, he said.
“If they had a place where they could host this kind of work—basically youth education in agriculture—and have private support for it, they feel they can enhance educational opportunities for the youth,” he said.
Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group started three years ago to help ensure the future of agriculture as a Wisconsin economic engine and cultural touchstone. It is a not-for-profit organization.
The group has completed a feasibility study with Vierbicher Associates and a business plan with Baker Tilly. It bought the land, developed alliances with area groups and now is in the middle of a fundraising feasibility study.
The project’s success depends on a strong vision, year-round operations and the ability to raise at least $25 million up front, board members said.
The group has three target audiences:
– Young leaders: Funding for youth programs is dropping, as is the number of ag activities, despite rising 4-H memberships. Group members said that’s an area they need to hit head-on.
– Workers: They see an agriculture skills gap increasing over the next five to 10 years, and they want to help provide the agriculture education that will be critical for the ag workforce of the future.
– General public: Less than 10 percent of Wisconsin residents are directly connected to agriculture. That number is high compared to the 2 percent across the country.
“We view that as a challenge as we go forward in trying to produce more food with less resources,” Wood said.
Klahn said there’s nothing in the project for board members other than satisfaction.
“I envision driving by this in 10 years and being proud of myself for being involved in the project,” he said. “There’s no financial gain or benefit to be had. It’s the opposite.”
No decisions have been made, but the fair board has been talking with Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group about moving the Rock County 4-H Fair to the Evansville center if the project moves ahead, fair board president Rob McConnell said.
“It looks like an opportunity for us,” he said.
The county owns the fairgrounds in Janesville, and the private Rock County Fair Association runs the fair.
The agriculture group has given updates on its project to the Rock County Board Agriculture and Extension Education Committee, which oversees the fairgrounds. Committee member Al Sweeney said the presentation was “quite impressive,” but it has a lot of hurdles to jump.
“We certainly can’t predict anything right now. There’s a big mountain to climb for the SWAG group,” he said referring to fundraising.
The fair board is interested in the Evansville site, so if the fair moved, the county would have to decide what to do with the fairgrounds. That topic has not yet been discussed, Stute said.
The fairgrounds property is zoned residential. If the fair moved, it would be “highly unlikely” that it would ever return because the city likely wouldn’t allow it, Sweeney said.
While the fair is a major user of the grounds, it is “a hard-working venue” for everything from educational programs, a curling club, weddings, gun shows, auctions and car shows, Stute said.
The Evansville site would be attractive to the fair board because it would be much larger than the cramped, 18-acre site in Janesville, he said. The location of the fair always has been contentious, he said, noting people say it’s difficult to get to the fairgrounds and it’s a countywide fair, not the Janesville fair.
“Evansville’s not that much farther away,” he said.
The project’s location is especially appealing to Blackhawk Technical College, President Tom Eckert said.
“The thing we like most about the whole center and concept is that its location is ideally suited for us between Rock and Green counties,” he said.
The college could move its one-year agribusiness program and its farm business and production management program, which is a special program for working farmers, from its Monroe campus to Evansville, he said. Those programs serve 30 to 35 students.
BTC would provide an instructor and classroom and office space, he said.
“We’ve committed to the fact that if they are successful in raising the money needed to put this center together, that we would certainly like to be a part of it,” he said.
With local and state board approvals, BTC could spend up to $1.5 million for a 9,000-square-foot facility, he said. BTC can borrow up to $1.5 million for a project without going to referendum.
Eckert said he didn’t want to get too speculative, but he said BTC’s presence could grow if everything comes together. BTC would consider moving its horticultural and turf industries program to the Evansville center, he said. There’s also the possibility of adding new programming.
He noted a need for “precision agriculture—the use of high-level technology in agriculture.”
Area farmers already use GPS-guided equipment to maximize resources such as fertilizers, he said.
“It’s here now, and we see that as becoming increasingly more complex and efficient,” he said.
People could learn how to drive tractors with advanced technology in the fields next to classrooms, he said.
But without funding for the whole complex, it won’t happen, Morning said.
So far, the group is encouraged. Nobody they’ve talked with has said the complex would be a bad idea, Klahn said.
“Everybody’s been extremely supportive,” he said. “It’s just that question mark of whether we’ll have enough funds for it.”
October 23, 2012
From jsonline.com: “Vincent High School launches urban ag program” – Shamika Suggs said she never used to like science.
But now, the 16-year-old Milwaukee student aspires to become a veterinarian.
“In regular science, we’re reading out of a book, writing notes,” Suggs said. “Now, we’re doing science ourselves – actual experiments.”
Suggs is a member of the inaugural class of a new urban agricultural sciences program at Harold S. Vincent High School – the largest school program of its kind in Wisconsin, and the only one in Milwaukee.
Agriculture programs are making a comeback in Wisconsin schools as educators tap into such expanding career fields as renewable energy. In the past three years, eight school districts have added agricultural science programs with a licensed teacher and their own Future Farmers of America charters, according to Jeff Hicken, agriculture and natural resources education consultant for the Department of Public Instruction.
Vincent’s program features aspects of the growing urban farming movement, including outdoor beehives, greenhouses and an aquaponics room.
“If there’s one thing I want people to take away, it’s that it’s not cows and sows and plows,” said Kyle Slick, Vincent’s new agricultural sciences teacher. The program has 216 students in its first year and will offer courses in introduction to urban agriculture, biotechnology, biofuels, veterinary science, landscape design and urban gardening.
“What I want my students to do is to have postsecondary aspirations,” Slick said. “By the time they’re seniors, I want them to have ideas of specific ideas of what careers they want and how to get to those careers.”
Vincent, set on a 90-acre plot of land on Milwaukee’s northwest side, was built in the 1970s with a focus on agriculture. Slick, a first-year teacher, is the first agricultural instructor Milwaukee Public Schools has hired in more than three decades to help get Vincent back to its roots with a modern focus.
Slick said he hopes to expand the program by adding one discipline each year to its lineup of mini-enterprises – plants, food science, animal production.
“We want this to be the focus of the school – the agricultural high school of Milwaukee,” Slick said.
Community support is nurturing the Vincent program. Urban farming pioneers Growing Power and Sweet Water Organics are partners in the program, and city funding helped get it off the ground. Mayor Tom Barrett and representatives of FaB Milwaukee, a regional network for the food and beverage industry, spoke at the program’s open house last week.
Barrett connected the program at Vincent to a city initiative to convert foreclosed lots into garden plots for urban farming.
“If we can find a way as a community to scale this up and make it financially feasible, we’ve hit a grand slam,” Barrett said.
Other partners, including Milwaukee Area Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin-River Falls, aim to streamline the transition from high school to college for agricultural sciences students at Vincent by offering more programs directly linked to the disciplines students are learning.
“Our goal is to button this up so we have a food chain from Vincent to MATC to UWM,” MATC President Michael Burke said. “We want to create pathways to local universities, like UWM’s school of public health.”
Hicken, of the DPI, said the growth of ag programs around the state is market driven. In addition to new programs in Wisconsin schools, Hicken said, 40 existing programs have expanded.
“A lot of what has been driving this lately is the job markets out there,” Hicken said.
About 354,000 jobs in Wisconsin – 10% of the workforce – come from its $59 billion-dollar agriculture industry, according to a study by the University of Wisconsin Extension.
Paul Larsen, chair of the Wisconsin Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Council, has taught agricultural education at Freedom High School for the past 26 years. His classroom helped serve as a model for the recent developments at Vincent – a step in the right direction, according to Larsen.
“We try to get students aware and excited about these careers in agriculture, because we’re going to need them very soon,” he said.
From madison.com: “Economic development study group to provide update Thursday” – Business, labor, community and academic leaders will get a briefing Thursday in Madison about a study in progress that will look at how well prepared Wisconsin is to meet the needs of businesses for skilled employees in coming years.
“The study is concentrating very heavily on the question of supply and demand, looking at major industry clusters, like agriculture and food production, manufacturing, etc., but is also looking very hard at the concept of skill clusters. Not just what kinds of skills are needed, but what capacity do we have to make sure those skill sets are transferable from one sector to another?” said Jim Wood, president of Wood Communications Group, Madison, and strategic counsel to Competitive Wisconsin.
Wood said the study is expected to be presented by about Labor Day. It will be the subject of three summits to be held this fall.
He said the effort stems from the 2010 “Be Bold Wisconsin” study that examined the state’s competitive position and urged a new economic development strategy.
“Workforce development is no longer a spectator sport. Everybody from parents to kids to teachers needs to be paying very close attention to this,” Wood said.
The briefing will be hosted by Madison Area Technical College, UW-Madison, UW Colleges, UW-Extension and Competitive Wisconsin. It will start at 9 a.m. at the Madison College West Campus, 302 S. Gammon Road. It’s one of about a dozen such meetings being held around the state.
The $300,000 study is being funded by grants from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the Bradley Foundation, and corporate donations.
From wisconsinagconnection.com: “Marathon Farm Tech Committee Distributes Show’s Profits” – The executive committee members of the 2011 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days show in Marathon County announced that the event’s profits went to local non-profit organizations that served food at the show, as well as some other special projects being planned for the area.
Committee Chairman Keith Langenhahn said that $192,000 was left after the show’s expenses were all covered. He said nine local groups shared $92,000; and that the remaining funds were donated to the Northcentral Technical College Agriculture Center of Excellence for capital projects, which includes a horse barn at the county fairgrounds and to a special FTD scholarships fund. Another $20,000 will be given back to Marathon County as repayment of seed money originally provided.
Mike Wildeck, who served as the Executive Secretary to the shows in 2011 and 1996, adds that it’s great to see that the show was a financial success.
“The proceeds resulting from the show will fund some terrific local projects and educational scholarships, but the leadership development that occurred may have an even greater impact,” he said.
Last year’s show was held at Seehafer Acres, just north of Marshfield. The event was planned with the help of 21 committees, 1,500 volunteers, dozens of sponsoring businesses and organizations.
May 25, 2012
From wausaudailyherald.com: “Wausau West students share stories from apprenticeships” – More than 60 high school juniors and seniors are working in part-time positions in the Wausau area through Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program. I’ve written a number of articles about the YA program for the paper in the past year, but for this article, two current YAs have agreed to share their experiences, in their own words.
Morgan Zernicke, Wausau West senior
I’ve been in the Youth Apprenticeship program for two years. My first year, I worked at Zernicke Farm, doing field work, barn chores and feeding calves. Currently, I’m working at Marathon Feed, where I provide customer service and do anything I am asked to do. I always wanted to go into the agricultural field, but my job at Marathon Feed has made me think more about what I really want to do for my future career. I’ve made the choice to stay in the agri-business area. I’ve been accepted to Northcentral Technical College this fall. I will graduate with an associate degree in Dairy Science Agri-business and hope to work in Marathon or Lincoln County after graduation. The YA program has helped me discover that a career in agriculture is a good fit for me.
Michaela Ketchum, Wausau West senior
Not many students could say their senior year has been as victorious as mine has been. As a full-time student at Wausau West High School working as a certified nursing assistant at Kindred Transitional Care, I have strived better to be not only a family member and a student, but a friend to many new patients that I care about deeply. The Youth Apprenticeship program has taken me down numerous exciting and new roads that have helped direct my future. Without this program, I would never have been so eager to plan my future as a registered nurse. While being a CNA, I have had so many opportunities to understand how essential the health field is and what struggles are truly out there. The Youth Apprenticeship program is such an important milestone for a student’s life and can even help them to find the key to their future.
If you’d like to connect with a student looking for an apprenticeship or want to learn more about the YA program, contact your local high school YA coordinator or Donna Schulz at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau at email@example.com.
From waow.com: “NTC goes green” – Northcentral Technical College is going green. Or, at least its farm is.
“Sometimes we want to be free of WPS power,” Director of Facilities Rob Elliot said.
That’s why NTC partnered with Warner Electric to install three wind turbines at their agricultural center. Combined with the already placed solar panels, during a sunny, windy day they are expected to carry the farm’s full electrical load.
“At peak demand we use about 38 kilowatts here at the farm, the wind turbines will produce about 27 kilowatts,” Elliot said.
The energy produced from the turbines will power lights, classrooms, and technology.
“There will be times we are pulling off the grid from WPS, buying power. But, there will be times we will be selling power back,” Elliot said.
But, it’s not just about saving energy. It is also a teaching tool.
“It gives students practical equipment to work with so they can tip them down, see the motor, the brakes and can learn the technology,” Elliot said.
Scott Story is a first year student. Even before the turbines were up and running, story and his class were on site, learning.
“Now-a-days were learning how to find ways to create energy with using gasses and stuff like that,” Story said.
But, not everyone is as excited. NTC officials say they did have one complaint. A nearby residence worried about how much noise the energy savers would make.
“These generate less noise than the ones you see on a farm on the highway. Actually, traffic going by will be louder than these turbines,” Elliot explained.
School officials say all three turbines will be producing energy by next week, making this farm a little greener.
March 9, 2012
From agriview.com: “Education down on the farm” – Being somewhat of a self-proclaimed history buff I thought I would share with you some facts about the history of agricultural education.
Why farm producers seek out knowledge is no different today than it was in 1862 when The Morrill Act established the land-grant university system to educate citizens in agriculture, home economics, mechanical arts, and other practical professions. The Extension Service was formally started in 1914, with the passage of the Smith-Lever Act. It established the partnership between the agricultural colleges (state funding), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (federal funding) to provide for cooperative agricultural extension education. To this day, the University of Wisconsin Extension Service continues this State, Federal and county government partnership to provide agricultural research and development to the agriculture community throughout the state of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin and some other states also provide the agricultural community with an additional source of agricultural education through the Wisconsin Technical College system. The Wisconsin Technical College system has now been providing technical training for 100 years to Wisconsin’s residents.
Wisconsin was the first state to pass a law supporting vocational, technical and adult education in 1911. The law ensured that state aid would be provided to foster continuing education, trade and evening schools. Now offering over 300 programs in fields as diverse as Agriculture, Mechanical Design Technology, Renewable Energies and Fashion Marketing; the colleges have helped nearly half of all Wisconsin adults build their futures through occupational, technical and/or liberal arts education.
The Wisconsin Technical College System has offered the Farm Business and Production Management Program for nearly 50 years throughout rural Wisconsin. Lakeshore Technical College, based in Cleveland, Wis., provides agriculture producers and agribusiness professionals’ continuing education opportunities in Manitowoc, Sheboygan, and Ozaukee counties and has been partnering with Moraine Park school district since 2003.
Enough of the history lesson. How has Ag Education changed over the last 150 years since the establishment of the Morrill Act? I immensely enjoy seeing photos from the very early years when literally hundreds of farmers would attend on-farm demonstrations. Just since 1964, Wisconsin farm numbers have gone from 138,000 to just over 75,000 in 2011. Obviously, with the reduction in farm numbers and in recent years, the advent of computers and the internet, the training methods used to deliver agriculture training have also changed.
What hasn’t changed is how producers like to learn and how they learn best. The photos from the turn of the century illustrate producers attending seminars where “demonstrations and discussion groups” were well attended. A century later Ag Educators still rely on these time tested approaches but today’s audience includes a demographic that our forefathers could not have imagined. One third of the continuing education clients served through Lakeshore Technical College’s Farm Business Program are employees on large farms. The average age of these non-traditional students is about 35 years of age and 80 percent of these served employees are employed on large family-owned dairy farms. A decade ago, nearly all my clients were owner/operators of smaller family run operations.
Although the student demographics may be changing, the reason agriculture producers and agribusiness personnel seek out continuing education has not changed. Whether the student is an employee on a state of the art 3,000-cow dairy or they are the owner/operator of a 50-cow organic dairy operation, they are seeking the same things in 2012 as they did in 1900. Farmers are looking for ways to make money, stay ahead of their competition, find ways to do things easier and in general, capture a higher quality of life.
Professional agriculture employees can inquire about the Lakeshore-Moraine Park Farm Business Programs and activities by contacting Greg Booher, instructor at 920-960-0551 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From fdlreporter.com: “FdL business is part of emerging indoor gardening market” – No matter what the season, Heather Ulrichsen has fresh herbs, lettuce and peppers.
What started as a winter hobby turned into a business opportunity. She and her partner, Richard Manser, own Rational Solutions for Farming, 416 N. Main St., Suite 1. Their store and website, rationalfarming.com, sell everything needed to start and maintain indoor and hydroponics gardens.
Ulrichsen said gardening setups can be as large or small as the gardener wants. This time of year, indoor gardening helps start seeds for spring planting. Indoor gardens work well year-round, too, she said.
Hydroponic gardening isn’t new, but it’s an emerging market. Indoor gardening appeals to growers who want fresh produce, flowers or plants year-round. In light of product recalls and safety concerns, more Americans are growing their own food, she said.
It also holds potential for residents with limited outdoor growing space, particularly those in apartments or urban homeowners with small yards, she said.
Ulrichsen said she started using hydroponics in 2009 when she and Manser had an organic farm near Hillsboro, Wis. She wanted something to do during the winter, so she started growing plants indoors and used them for freezing, canning and eating fresh. Some of those jars now sit on display at the store.
Since it went so well and because the small farm was struggling to compete with larger operations in the organic market, she looked at hydroponics as a business.
They eventually quit the farm and moved to Fond du Lac, where Ulrichsen had lived as a child when her mother served as a Methodist minister in North Fond du Lac. Ulrichsen said they chose Fond du Lac not only because she has ties to the area, but also because it’s everything she wants as a resident and entrepreneur — it has a more rural setting, but it’s only an hour’s drive from larger cities.
Rational Solutions for Farming opened Oct. 15, 2010, and has served a diverse customer base, from individuals to organizations, including Moraine Park Technical College’s culinary arts program, she said.
How it works
At first blush, Ulrichsen’s hydroponic gardening looks and sounds like something out of “Star Trek.” There are multi-colored lights, canvases and tents, tubes and fans, thermometers and numerous containers with plants in various stages of growth. In one corner, tiny strawberry plants peek through the soil. In the other, a sprawling cucumber seems to be plotting to takeover its neighborhood. Pepper plants reach for the light as small fruits hide beneath lush leaves.
On more than one occasion, she’s stopped to pluck a lettuce leaf for her sandwich or some herbs for cooking, she said.
“It really does wonders psychologically. It’s your own little oasis. You can shut out all the winter stuff going on outside,” she said.
The miniature jungles and technology may intimidate customers looking for a small setup, but Ulrichsen says indoor gardening doesn’t have to be large or complicated.
It requires lighting and some kind of shelter, whether it’s a tent or canvas. She said the lights mimic the sun’s rays, and the canvas is essential to direct the light to the plants.
“If you were to just stick a light in a room, you’re not going to get good results. You’re just lighting your room. It’s a glorified lightbulb at that point,” she said.
In another kind of hydroponics system, plants sit in a circular container. The roots hold clay pebbles, which are cleaner than soil. Ulrichsen said she waters the pebbles, and the plants pull moisture and nutrients from the clay.
Indoor gardening doesn’t require special seeds or plants, she added.
“You’re kind of playing God a little bit,” she said. “You control the light, the temperature, how much water they get.”
Pests are a possibility, but they can be controlled with all-natural pesticides. Ulrichsen said she uses a chrysanthemum extract that’s safe for plants and people.
Grow your own
MPTC’s culinary arts program started indoor gardening last fall, said Culinary Arts Instructor Ron Speich. He said Rational Solutions for Farming donated two LED lights and provided information to help them get started.
MPTC now has not only an indoor garden but also an aquaponic system that combines a fish tank with growing plants. The fish’s droppings create a fertilized water for the plants. Ulrichsen said she hopes to sell aquaponics systems in the future.
Speich said students and staff wanted to use more homegrown ingredients instead of buying them. Since graduates will likely become chefs, they need to understand where their food comes from, how safe it is and how to find the freshest ingredients.
The plants are flourishing, he said. The basil is three feet high. When the pepper plants hit five feet, it was time for trimming.
“I think in the future you’re going to see more and more of it,” he said.
February 27, 2012
From agriview.com: “Cutting presented WCPA Education Award” – Southwest Tech Agribusiness/Science Technology program instructor Paul Cutting, Fennimore, was recently honored by the Wisconsin Crop Production Association with an Education Award.
“Paul was selected to receive this award by the Board of Directors for his dedication to agribusiness education and providing instruction to students who have been successful in the crop production industry,” commented Rob Poehnelt, Wisconsin Crop Production Association Executive Director. “Paul has a huge impact on crop production in the state of Wisconsin and we are proud to be able to recognize his achievements.”
“I am happy and humbled to have been selected for this award and am incredibly proud the Agribusiness/Science Technology program is being recognized in the industry,” commented Cutting. “As I was accepting the award, I was amazed to see the number of my graduates in the audience that are members of the Wisconsin Crop Production Association. Seeing students continue to learn is an award in itself.”
Cutting has been the instructor for Southwest Tech’s Agribusiness/Science Technology program for 23 years. He has been the State Manager for Wisconsin Post-secondary Agricultural Students (PAS) since 1989 and the advisor for Southwest Tech’s Agribusiness PAS Chapter, which has been represented by many state and national officers. Cutting is a member at the state and national level of both the Association of Agricultural Instructors and the Association of Career and Technical Education, and is a lifetime member of the FFA Alumni and PAS Associates.
February 14, 2012
From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Farms harvesting their own energy” – Farmers are invited to an event that explores the production of fuel energy, such as small-scale biodiesel, ethanol and biogas from soybeans, camelina, sorghum and other local crops. The three-hour event starts at 9 a.m. Feb. 24 in Room I-112 at Mid-State Technical College’s Wisconsin Rapids campus, 500 32nd St. N.
Topics will include vegetable oil and ethanol fuels, rural development funding programs and small-scale methane digester concepts. There also will be quality test demonstrations and small-scale equipment demonstrations, including two 50-gallon biodiesel processors, an oilseed press and ethanol processing.
Event registration is $20; refreshments will be provided. This event is supported by MSTC; the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; and the Wisconsin Biodiesel Association. Those interested in attending can RSVP by Feb. 21 to Bob Brylski at 920-289-0166 or Bob@BioenergyServices.org.
February 10, 2012
From htrnews.com: “Down on the Farm” — By Greg Booher, LTC instructor – It’s my great privilege in life to work with farm families on a wide variety of things, from caring for the newborn calf to the economic return of foliar feeding corn to evaluating last year’s dairy financial performance.
In my work for Lakeshore and Moraine Park technical colleges, the area I most enjoy and find most challenging is working with farm families on intergenerational transfer.
Although I’ve never worked in any other industry than production agriculture, my guess is the transfer of a family business is very much the same no matter if the business is a small-town hardware store in southern Fond du Lac County or a heating and air conditioning enterprise in Atlanta, Ga.
The typical points of contention range from parents who would prefer their children sell the dairy cows and get a less stressful job in town to struggles over how to grow the business, or when hay should be cut or which corn planter should be purchased. This tug-of-war between generations probably has been going on since cave parents argued with cave children over how to form a spear tip.
Years ago, as an overly enthusiastic college student, I would come home from my dairy production studies at The Ohio State University, with ideas on how everything should be done on our home dairy. The way my uncle Vernon did things was old fashioned, and I wasn’t shy about letting him know he had to change the way he was doing things. After patiently listening to me for months on end, I will never forget how calmly he told me that he greatly appreciated me coming home on weekends to help, but it would be better if I left all of my new knowledge in Columbus.
My attitude may well have been the reason I was not encouraged to come home and farm after graduation. And my uncle has successfully dairy farmed for 53 years. My aunt and uncle are just beginning to think about selling the dairy cows at age 73.
When my own son, Ben, became of age, I remember our disagreements regarding how to run our small farm. It was hard for me to accept that Ben often had better ideas than mine. Why do these intergenerational struggles occur between parents and their adult children?
It would take a psychologist to answer this question, but some common sense and experience with human nature probably will suffice. Why do emotions become so much a part of family discussions? It seems as though it takes only a small spark to set off an explosion of emotion.
One possible reason for the frequent contentious debates is that the farm family is often not only working together day after day, they often live together in the same house or very close to one another. Disputes over the same issues go on for months and possibly years with no resolution. And there you have it, one of the major reasons for the struggles that exist within the family business unit — unresolved disputes.
Disputes must not go on for long periods of time without some sort of decisive action being taken. Emotions have to be controlled if meaningful discussion is to take place. Decisions have to be “give and take.” Compromise must be sought.
That isn’t to imply that Dad should always give in to the son’s desires nor should the reverse be the case. Assistance provided by third-party, outside resource professionals also can be used by the business to help the management team sort out the options and arrive at a viable solution. Once a decision has been made, every family member and all other employees must be able to put sore feelings aside and sincerely implement the mutual decision.
At the end of the day, take a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror. Do you respect the judgment of the others on your team? Can you communicate calmly with your family members, or have you become a liability to the business?
Greg Booher is farm business and production management instructor at Lakeshore Technical College, Cleveland.
February 10, 2012
From agriview.com: “Transferring the farm in a high stakes era workshop March 8″ – A generation ago, passing on the family farm was a simple process. Profit margins were higher, land values were lower, farm size was smaller and tax rates were not significant. More often than not, a farmer could draft a simple will to transfer ownership to his children. We are facing serious questions as to whether the family farm can, in fact, be passed down from today’s owners to the next generation.
UW-Extension and Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) are sponsoring a workshop to explore issues and considerations for farm succession in today’s high stakes climate.
Speakers for the workshop will include: Phil Harris, UW-Extension Agriculture Law Specialist; Joy Kirkpatrick, UW Outreach Specialist; Katie Sternweis. Dunn County Agriculture Agent; Carl Duley, Buffalo County Agriculture Agent; Mark Denk and Brad Sirianni, Farm Business and Production Management Instructors with CVTC.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that over 500,000 of the nation’s two million farmers will retire during the next decade and that they will be replaced by 350,000 entrants. This means a potential for literally thousands of farm transfers in the United States over the next few years, at a time when we see complex and rapid changes in the industry due to technological innovations, trade and other government policies, a growing world population, urban pressures on agricultural lands, and the pressure of conservation and environmental concerns.
Transferring the farm business to the next generation is seldom an abrupt process. The transition generally takes place over a number of years, thus successful farm succession takes good planning and communication. The succeeding generation needs to establish a firm financial footing as well as learning to manage the business. The retiring generation has to be willing to turn over control of the business and trust that the successor will do well, but also must consider the practical matters of determining the sources of retirement income and how dependent they will be on the business assets for their retirement.
Developing a working plan will make the actual transition smoother and will make communicating the transfer details with on-farm and off-farm family members easier. Even if your transfer may happen a few years from now, starting early will help the process go more smoothly.
For registration information or to register, call Dunn County UW-Extension office at 715-232-1636, or contact Katie Sternweis at email@example.com, or visit our website at http://dunn.uwex.edu. Cost is $20.00 per person and includes materials and lunch. Registration deadline is March 1. Please send your registration form and check payable to UW-Extension to: Dunn County UW-Extension, 800 Wilson Avenue, Room 330, Menomonie, WI 54751.
January 27, 2012
From agriview.com: “Kuczers named state’s ‘Outstanding Young Farmers’” –
Shawano County cattle feeders Adam and Rebecca Kuczer were named Wisconsin’s Outstanding Young Farmers last weekend. The Pulaski couple was chosen from among eight producers competing for the 2012 title. Meantime, the 2011 OYFs, Brian and Renee Schaal, Burlington, will be competing early next month in Arkansas with 10 producers around the country for this year’s national title.
Though the weekend selection process and banquet was held in Marshfield, the event was hosted by the JCI Greenfield chapter. (JCI Wisconsin was formerly known as the Wisconsin Jaycees, an organization of young professionals, ages 18 to 40, who are developing personal and leadership skills and making a difference in their communities through volunteering.)
With each new day comes opportunity for growth and change; that’s why the Kuczers chose their joint career in farming-for the day-to-day challenges. Extremely proud of what they do, these beef producers are articulate spokespeople for Wisconsin agriculture, focused on making connections with other producers and especially the non-farm public.
They farm 443 acres (410 tillable), growing 220 acres of corn, 110 of soybeans, 40 of wheat and 50 of hay. What doesn’t feed their cattle (between 250 and 300 head) is sold as cash crops. The Kuczers source 300 to 400-pound Holstein calves and take them to finish. Being Wisconsin is the “Dairy State,” Adam notes “Holstein bull calves are easy to come by,” and he’s “always looking for good suppliers.” He follows a regular vaccination protocol. Cattle are raised in five lots and segregated. He markets at local auction barns, but is intent on increasing direct-to-the-consumer freezer-meat sales.
Adam was raised on his parents’ dairy farm (Tom and Linda Kuczer). From early on, he knew farming was the career for him. After high school, he attended Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, and though he took a job in metal fabrication, he still helped out on the home farm. It wasn’t long before his dad approached Adam with the idea of working fulltime as the farm’s mechanic.
The first equipment Adam purchased was an excavator, which he used for ditching and clearing fence lines on the farm. He also did some custom work on his own, and over time, bought more machinery and then 120 acres, which he cash cropped, sharing equipment with his parents. The young producer’s finances were kept separate from his folks’ as he built equity and gained management experience.
In 2003, Adam married Rebecca, who was also from Pulaski, though not from a farm. Together, the newlyweds continued to work the farm, and built a new home. In 2007, the dairy cows were sold, as the younger generation transitioned the business to steers and cash crops. These 2012 state Outstanding Young Farmers purchased the operation in 2010.
Rebecca explains that the decision to raise steers instead of milking cows was based on how the two enterprises would “affect family.” Raising beef would “allow more time together” and provide more “flexibility with family” activities, she explains. The Kuczers have four children-Nicholas, 6; Sawyer, 4; and 1-year-old twins, Clara and Cadence. When she and Adam were called to the microphone to accept their prestigious award last weekend, Rebecca said “the day I found out I was having twins felt like I was dreaming.” Being named Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmers is every bit as dream-like. “Someone give me a pinch,” she said. “It doesn’t feel real!”
Rebecca later emphasized how a farm is a “great place to raise a family.” The Kuczer kids, she notes, spend many happy hours in their oversized sandbox, made with some 20 yards of sand.
Farming, however, has also held many challenges for this young family. Switching from dairy to beef demanded they extensively remodel facilities. Stalls were removed from the dairy barn, which was converted to storage. Lots were constructed for the cattle, as was drive-by bunk feeding. Heated waterers were added, along with a squeeze chute, scale and tub pen for handling, sorting and loading cattle. They redesigned their grain bin system, put up a 20 X 90 silo, built a new expanded feed room and re-roofed a barn.
In 2004-Adam and Rebecca’s first full year farming together-a long wet spring prevented planting. Rather than plant in July, they decided to use the rest of the year to tile their land. They bought a tile plow and installed 50,000 feet of drainage tile to improve their cropland. They installed another 50,000 feet two years later.
In 2007, Adam’s dad needed a second hip replacement. Having a strategic plan helped insure all the work could still get done and overcome that labor challenge. Finally, in 2010-the year the Kuczers purchased the farm-lightning caused a fire that destroyed a barn (storing all their dry hay) as well as a silo of high moisture corn.
Despite these adversities, the Kuczers persevered with their dreams and have continued to make progress.
Conservation is front and center in the operation. A duck scrape was constructed, and they’ve planted 5,000 black spruce and four one-acre foot plots for wildlife. Grass waterways and filter strips protect water quality. Adam does two-and-a-half-acre GPS grid soil testing and has built a variable rate fertilizer spreader, which saves money by better tailoring applications within fields and is better environmentally, too. He’s also switched from plowing to deep tillage to break compaction and allow better drainage. A single tillage pass in the spring saves fuel and keeps residue on top, preventing erosion and runoff. He uses a two-pass system for herbicide and nitrogen applications, and relies on an AgLeader monitoring system and GPS to monitor planting rates.
All this fine-tuning in the fields paid off last year, with some of his fields averaging 220 bushels of corn and 65 bushels of soybeans. Their goals are to acquire additional acreage to cash crop and maintain 300 head of cattle on their place at all times. They market 150 head a year. They’d also like to sell their beef directly to consumers, eventually being able to keep a state-approved freezer stocked with cuts.
Their focus on improvements also paid off by, of course, being selected from a field of eight candidates as Wisconsin’s Outstanding Young Farmers, by a trio of judges: Anne Berg, assistant vice president and team leaders with Badgerland Financial in Mondovi; Tom Drendel, former superintendent of the UW’s Marshfield Ag Research Station, now ag safety specialist with the National Farm Medicine Center in Marshfield; and Doug Urban, registered Holstein and Brown Swiss breeder at Milladore and 1993 state OYF competitor.
The Kuczers are very active off their farm, especially with Farm Bureau. They’re serving on the state Farm Bureau Young Farmer Committee. Adam, 36, has also been Farm Bureau Young Farmer chair in his county for five years, and is presently Shawano County Farm Bureau vice president.
This couple participates in the Shawano County Brunch on the Farm, specifically organizing the kiddie pedal tractor pull. It’s an opportunity for them to “let people know where their food comes from,” says Rebecca. While they’re running this fun children’s event, she says “people find us very approachable.” It’s a natural venue for telling non-farmers about agriculture-something very important to the Kuczers, who are serious promoters of their industry. Adam feels it’s his responsibility to get involved, speak up and let the public know how he takes care of his animals and is intent on producing a “good quality product,” so “somebody else isn’t talking for us.”
Rebecca admits it’s a challenge trying to divvy up their time among the farm, family and their off-farm involvements. They enjoy networking with other young farmers through Farm Bureau, as well as last weekend’s OYF competition.
Adam is also involved in the Tri County Snow Riders snowmobile club and Pulaski Chase Cooperative. Rebecca is the reporter for the Northeastern Wisconsin Miniature Horse Club. She helps with chores on the farm and handles all the bookwork.
“We love to share what we do with others. What we do (i.e. farming) is so personal to us,” says Rebecca from her heart.
January 27, 2012
From agriview.com: “Whitney makes settling down difficult for gypsy moth in Wisconsin” —
If you’re a gypsy moth bachelor seeking summer romance in western Wisconsin, chances are Chris Whitney will find you before you find a date.
Whitney is the trapping coordinator for the Wisconsin Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread (STS) Program at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Wisconsin is among several states involved in the STS Program, a national effort to postpone the establishment of gypsy moth in new areas.
For 14 years, Whitney has led a team of trappers around the state to set traps for gypsy moth.
“It’s an invasive species that needs to be monitored, and trapping is a way to show us where they are and where they are not,” Whitney said.
Trapping is just one phase of gypsy moth management. The others are egg mass survey and treatment. Data collected every fall from the trapping and egg mass surveys help the STS program determine which areas in western Wisconsin need treatment the following spring.
“To fight it, we need to know where it is. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know where to treat,” he said.
Before becoming the trapping coordinator, Whitney started as a trapper himself when he was still a science teacher in 1989. He also learned about the invasive gypsy moth for the first time.
“The caterpillar stage of its life cycle is the most destructive. Gypsy moth caterpillars are not very picky eaters. They have a big appetite for oaks as well as for hundreds of other kinds of trees and shrubs, and they only have a few natural enemies. So, they have the potential to cause heavy defoliation. In the adult or moth stage, they don’t eat anything and spend most of their time looking for a mate instead,” Whitney said.
The traps only catch male gypsy moths because the females cannot fly. Males find females by following a pheromone released by the females. This behavior is the key to capturing the moths. Lures in the traps mimic the female’s pheromone and attract interested males.
“In hopes of finding love, they find doom,” Whitney said.
Setting traps for gypsy moth not only taught Whitney new things, but it also sparked a new interest.
After 13 years of teaching, Whitney decided to change careers. He returned to school and attended Fox Valley Technical College where he earned a degree in Natural Resources Technology. After two years as a trapper and two years working for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as its trapping coordinator, Whitney reached the position he is at today.
“It’s a nice balance between office and field work. I like to travel around the state and see a lot of cool stuff that I don’t normally see,” he said.
The trapping survey is conducted every summer in most of western Wisconsin. Eastern Wisconsin is considered to be generally infested with gypsy moth and therefore, is not surveyed.
Naturally on its own, gypsy moth spreads about three to five miles per year. However, with the aid of people, it spreads much quicker.
“Moving firewood, transplanting infected nursery stock, logging or moving outdoor household items that have gypsy moth egg masses on them all contribute to the spread,” Whitney said.
The STS Program has reduced the spread of gypsy moth nationally from 13 miles per year to five miles per year and provides a cost-to-benefit ratio of more than 3 to 1.
“It is the goal of our state and national programs to contain the spread to about six miles or less per year,” Whitney said.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a feasible way to get rid of all the gypsy moths, according to Whitney. They’re here to stay and in time, will inhabit the whole state.
“But, not without a fight,” he added. “We’re going to hold the gypsy moth back for as long as possible.”
Gypsy moth history
The U.S. “invasion” started when some gypsy moths escaped after an amateur entomologist brought them to Boston from Europe in the 1860s in a failed attempt to breed a hardier silkworm.
Wisconsin started surveying gypsy moth spread by trapping in 1969 when egg masses were discovered in Kenosha County.
Currently, gypsy moth has established itself throughout much of the Northeastern and Eastern United States, the Upper Midwest, and portions of Canada.
January 13, 2012
From blueridgenow.com: “Wisconsin, African farmers join in soil-building project” — Tony and Dela Ends, formerly of Hendersonville and now farming in Wisconsin, are volunteering in January to teach West African farmers composting techniques.
America’s oldest non-profit cooperative development program is sending the organic vegetable growers to Senegal. The ongoing soil-building project in that Atlantic Coastal nation is one of 20 long-term initiatives on three continents of the National Cooperative Business Association.
Tony Ends, who turned 21 in Senegal as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1975, is going back to that nation for the first time in 35 years. Tony Ends taught English for two years in a public school in Senegal. He then worked in newspapers for 14 years, including nearly five years as a copy editor at the Hendersonville Times-News.
With his wife Dela and family, Tony worked to establish Scotch Hill Farm on returning to Wisconsin to work for the Janesville Gazette 18 years ago. The certified organic farm, 17 miles west of Janesville, now grows more than 100 varieties of vegetables, small grains and hay on 41 acres.
While living in Hendersonville, Tony and Dela hosted Hamidou Sakhanokho, who completed studies for a two-year horticulture degree at then Blue Ridge Technical College. Hamidou went on to complete agriculture and plant sciences degrees and earning master’s and doctoral degrees. He is a researcher for the USDA in Alabama.
Composting is a method of blending different types of decaying plant and animal matter to make humus. It is one of the ways organic growers restore and enrich soil for cultivating crops.
Senegal, a nation about the size of South Dakota, lies on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Farmers in much of the region struggle to produce grain from sorghum, millet, corn and peanuts in soil types where sand predominates in often hot, dry climate.
After the two-week assignment in Senegal, the Ends will return from Africa through Europe. They will interview students for farm internships and give talks on organic agriculture at a school near Sulzburg, Austria. They also hope to visit oil seed crop farms that process their own food-grade vegetable oils and make bio-fuels on-farm.
Dela, the daughter of Jim and Nancy Morton, has been teaching organic gardening for several years at Blackhawk Technical College in Monroe. Tony has also worked with soil scientists, agronomists and educators as a communications coordinator and grant writer in sustainable agriculture research.
The NCBA helped found and fund in 1945 the program that became CARE, which helped rebuild war-torn Europe. It has since been active in more than 100 countries with more than 200 programs to build democratic institutions and provide technical assistance to grassroots development efforts abroad.
January 12, 2012
From nwtc.edu: “Farmers learn how to grow your own fuel” — Area farmers are invited to Oneida and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to learn how their neighbors are growing and using their own fuel.
Information and demonstrations will be provided at a seminar Friday, January 20. The event begins at 9 a.m. at Ridgeview Plaza, Hwy 54, Oneida, and ends with a demonstration at NWTC-Green Bay from 11:30 a.m. to noon.
Participants will learn how farmers are producing fuel from crops like soybeans, camelina, and sorghum and creating usable energy including small-scale ethanol and biogas. Bob Brylski, statewide biofuels educator and director of Wisconsin Bioenergy Services will discuss biodiesel, vegetable oil, and ethanol fuels and Perry Anderson, Packer City International Trucks will demonstrate oilseed processing and biodiesel production. Brenda Heinen, US Dept of Agriculture, will discuss rural development funding programs and Vance Haugen, UW Agricultural Extension Agent from Crawford County, WI will be discussing small scale biogas production.
December 27, 2011
From agriview.com: “Nutrient management planning classes” – Producers in Northcentral Wisconsin are invited to attend a course designed to help them develop a nutrient management plan. They’ll enter soil test information into the SNAP-Plus software and do field mapping, manure management and crop selection. It’s highly recommended participants have current soil tests (no more than four years old, sampled on the basis of one sample per five acres, with 10 cores per sample, and analyzed by a DATCP-approved lab).
The regular “compressed” course is set in three locations: Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, Jan. 10, 17 and 24 at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; NTC in Spencer, Jan. 12, 19 and 26 at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; or NTC in Medford, Jan. 13, 20 and 27, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the cost is $260, with participants reimbursed $200 upon completion.
A regular evening course will be held on Thursdays, between Jan. 12 and Feb. 16, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the NTC Spencer campus. The cost is the same as already noted.
A “refresher” course (for those who’ve taken nutrient management in the past four year) will be held Jan. 31 and Feb. 7 at NTC in Wausau from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., or Feb. 2 and 9, from noon to 3 p.m. at NTC in Spencer. This class is $130 with participants reimbursed $100 upon completion.
These courses are in partnership with UW-Extension and the conservation departments from Marathon, Clark, Taylor and Lincoln counties. For more information, contact Katie Mihlbauer at NTC, 715-803-1871 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From wisbusiness.com: “Southwest Tech receives $8,305 grant” – Peaceful fields, bright blue skies, open spaces – when most people think about farms, they envision the serene landscapes often found in art museums. Few people realize that farming is actually one of the most dangerous professions in America. Of all farm accidents, grain bin accidents can be among the most severe and grain bin rescues can be among the most difficult. When Southwest Wisconsin Technical College expressed an interest in training their students in grain bin rescue techniques, the Livingston Monsanto site recognized the importance of this training and nominated the school for a grant to purchase grain bin rescue equipment.
The technical college, located in Fennimore, was presented with a grant for $8,305 from the Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, during a presentation on Dec. 2. The funds will be used to purchase a Liberty Rescue Tube.
“The Liberty Rescue Tube is made up of four pieces that lock together to form a tube,” said Rita Luna, directory of the EMS and fire program at the college. “The tube is driven into the grain surrounding the victim and the grain is then removed from inside the tube, allowing the victim to be removed safely from the grain bin.”
Jason Biddick of Monsanto was excited to play a part in the donation. “The college has always been very safety-oriented,” Biddick said “The purchase of this rescue tube will enable them to train members of the community on its use, expanding their already impressive list of safety classes offered.”
Rita Luna was very appreciative of the grant.
“This newly developed tool will truly enhance the likelihood of survival among victims of grain bin accidents,” Luna said.
This grant is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund, which is focused on strengthening farming communities, as well as the communities where Monsanto’s employees live and work.
December 12, 2011
From postcrescent.com: “Proposed child labor laws would limit hazardous work by minors” – Farming comes naturally to 15-year-old Trevor Crain, who has his hands in every part of a busy dairy farm.
But proposed changes to child farm safety laws by the U.S. Department of Labor could limit the opportunities for young people to have the same experience.
“If the rules were in place today, it would shut me down,” Crain said this week at the Egan Dairy Farm near his home north of New London.
Crain has been milking, hauling hay and filling silos since he was 10 at the 500-cow dairy farm. After obtaining a degree in dairy science, the young man hopes to return and manage the herd.
He understands the call for safety, but with a tractor driver’s license from Fox Valley Technical College, he feels comfortable operating the dangerous equipment.
The Labor Department says the proposed changes would strengthen safety requirements for children on farms and put those rules more in line with youth labor laws in other industries. Agricultural workers ages 15 to 17 are 4.4 times more likely to suffer a fatal incident than the average 15- to 17-year-old worker, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
December 12, 2011
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Seminar touts small-scale biofuel production on Wisconsin farms” – DENMARK — Amber-colored soybean oil dripped out of the seed press as a small group of people stood in a semicircle watching the demonstration.
Extracting that oil is the first step in processing it to biodiesel for use in tractors, trucks and other powered equipment.
Small-scale production of biodiesel and other biofuels derived from sources like canola was the focus of a seminar Friday in Denmark.
On-farm production of fuels like soybean-based biodiesel and ethanol has taken hold around the state, said Bob Brylski, statewide biofuels educator and director of Wisconsin Bioenergy Services, and continues to mature.
“There are a lot of folks making energy on a small scale all over the place,” he said.
Most of the product is staying on the farm.
“There are a lot of secondary, non-transportation uses for it as well, a lot of people are making it for their heating requirements and things like that” said Brylski, an adjunct instructor of biofuels at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. “That’s mostly biodiesel and straight vegetable oil.”
November 17, 2011
From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “We must attract, train next farmers” — Agriculture has been and continues to be central to Wisconsin’s economic prosperity and identity. Images of farms and dairy products go hand-in-hand with Wisconsin. After all, agriculture is a $59 billion industry in Wisconsin.
Despite this, we have a worker shortage for farm jobs. The jobs are there, but the workers are not. Much of this worker shortage is due to the misperceptions young people have toward farm life and farm work. Their wrong assumptions that jobs in agriculture are all low-paying, require no education and equate to long hours on a farm often discourage them from entering the field.
“Youth are the future of agriculture and Wisconsin’s family farms,” said Paul Zimmerman, executive director of government relations of Wisconsin Farm Bureau.
“Farming is very important to Wisconsin’s economy, generating about $60 billion in economic activity each year. Wisconsin Farm Bureau has consistently supported efforts to educate youth about where their food comes from through programs like Ag in the Classroom, and further encourage them to take a hands-on role through opportunities with 4-H and FFA. We welcome discussion on how to promote the many job opportunities within agriculture as viable career choices,” Zimmerman said.
November 4, 2011
From wausaudailyherald.com: “Ag industry fights perception problem” – To protect Wisconsin’s $59 billion agriculture industry from a crippling workforce shortage, leaders need to kill the negative image that’s keeping young people from entering the field, industry experts said.
During a panel discussion Oct. 26 at a conference in Wausau about economic development in rural Wisconsin, educators, business leaders and economists highlighted a grim reality: Wisconsin’s top industry is struggling and will continue to struggle to find qualified workers.
Much of that concern stems from young people’s misperceptions that jobs in agriculture, including food processing, are all low-paying, require no education and equate to long hours on a farm. The panelists said that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“The jobs are there,” said Lori Weyers, president of Northcentral Technical College in Wausau and a proponent for drawing students into agriculture work. “We can’t get the people interested in the careers.”
November 4, 2011
From agriview.com: ” Marketing skills for farmers sessions” – A series on marketing farm commodities classes are being offered beginning Nov. 29 at Madison Area Technical College in Reedsburg. Commodity Marketing I will cover many of the basic principles of developing a marketing strategy. Forward contracts, futures and options markets, working with a broker, calculating cost of production and evaluating historical price data will be covered. The end point will be for a producer to have a marketing plan for 2012. Milk and grain scenarios will be presented. This class meets on Nov. 29 and Dec. 6, 13, and 20 from 12:30-3:30 p.m.
Commodity Marketing II will focus on more advanced techniques of marketing. More detail on technical and fundamental analysis will be covered as well. This class runs Jan. 10, 17, 24, and 31 from 12:30-3:30 p.m.
Each class costs $115.85. All producers interested or having questions about the sessions should contact Doug Marshall at 608-524-7727 or email@example.com.