Agriculture

Local farmers in maintenance mode while state numbers dwindle

By Paul Schmitt

 

The area crops harvested this past fall are a distant memory, but Door and Kewaunee farmers look for brighter days while maintaining their farmstead.  Rich Olson of Olson Family Farm in southern Door County explains how farmers stay busy this time of year.

 

 

Olson says it is challenging for small farms to prosper with the low prices of milk and other commodities.  According to state agricultural officials, 648 Wisconsin dairy farms have shut down in the first ten months this year.  The state lost 500 farms in 2017.

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Washington Island apiary creating a buzz about Russian honeybees

Jennifer C. / CC

 

By Tim Kowols

 

An apiary on Washington Island will begin a research project next year that could have an impact on the local beekeeping industry. Sweet Mountain Farm owner Sue Dumpke began her apiary on Washington Island about 10 years ago. In that time, she has noticed the resiliency of her Russian bees to handle cold temperatures and their infatuation with local lavender fields. Now she has 75-180 colonies producing between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds of honey a year in addition to the 100 colonies she sells to Wisconsin beekeepers. With help from researchers from UW-River Falls, Dumpke hopes to see the health benefits of lavender for her Russian honeybees as it relates to weight gains, honey yields, and winter loss.

 

 

 

 

Dumpke says interns will help her keep track of the health of Russian honeybees for the research project over the next two years.

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Sturgeon Bay teacher receives recognition for agricultural literacy work

By Connor Harbit

 

Ashley Vanden Bush, a third-grade teacher at St. John Bosco in Sturgeon Bay, has been awarded the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Outstanding Teacher Award as part of their “Ag in the Classroom” program. Vanden Bush, who was unaware that she was going to be receiving the award, repeatedly demonstrated a focus in using agriculture resources in her lesson plans. She had also been active at volunteer and teacher trainings, and had even given a presentation at Ag in the Classroom’s national conference. Ag in the Classroom Coordinator Darlene Arneson said Vanden Bush has continually helped educate children about the importance of agriculture when it was not required of her to do so.

 

 

 

 

Vanden Bush will next be Wisconsin’s nominee for the National Excellence in Teaching Agriculture Award and will also receive a $500 scholarship toward attending the 2019 Ag in the Classroom conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, next June. Ag in the Classroom is an initiative from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau that seeks to work with existing curricula to further educate students K-12 on the role of agriculture within the economy and society.

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Farm Technology Days committee announces scholarship program

By Tim Kowols

 

Three days in Algoma last year continue to have a positive impact in Kewaunee County after the Farm Technology Days committee announced its scholarship program. For at least the next 10 years, the Kewaunee County Farm Technology Days Scholarship Committee will award $6,000 in scholarships annually to students graduated from one of the area’s six area high schools enrolled in post-secondary education. Two months after committees reviewed 44 grant applications for organizational needs, FTD Executive Chairperson Amber Hewett says she is excited to help more community members.

 

 

The scholarship program is part of the $250,000 the FTD Committee will award for various causes thanks in part to last year’s successful event. Hewett says it will announce grant recipients at the end of December. You can learn more about the scholarship program and how to apply online with this story.

 

 

More exciting news from Farm Technology Days!

Posted by Kewaunee County UW-Extension Ag Program on Monday, November 26, 2018

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Continued overproduction hurts family dairy farms in Door County and beyond

By Connor Harbit

 

DOOR COUNTY, WI (Connor Harbit) — A Door County farmer says that the ongoing milk crisis will continue as long as farmers produce more than they can successfully market. Although increasingly better feed, genetics and management have allowed for greater production, there has not been enough demand from consumers to move milk products. Rich Olson, owner of the Olson Family Farm in southern Door County, says that a lot of commodities are suffering from low demand.

 

 

The year long battle with milk prices has been costly to several family farms throughout Wisconsin, with Olson stating that 648 family dairy farms have stopped production completely around the state since January 1st.

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Beef quality assurance certification requirements changing

 

By Aerica Bjurstrom, Kewaunee County UW-Extension Agriculture Educator

 

Some large meat packers and processors have announced that effective January 1, 2019, they will only purchase from farms that are Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) or FARM Certified. Most dairy farms are FARM certified through their milk processor. Ask your dairy plant representative for assistance to obtain a copy of your completed FARM evaluation, or a letter from them indicating your farm’s completion of FARM 3.0 or beyond.

 

The 2019 BQA requirement impacts those selling finished beef breeds and will affect all sale markets and private treaty transactions. Farmers should work with their marketing partners, or buyers if selling direct, to ensure correct documentation of BQA or FARM certification.

 

At this time, it is believed that beginning in January 2020, additional processors will begin to require BQA or FARM Certification from their suppliers.

 

Obtain free, online BQA certification at BQA.org. Each interactive course takes about two hours to complete, and requires an 80% score to pass the final test. You will receive your BQA certification via email, which you will provide at the point of sale.

 

UW-Extension is hosting an in-person BQA certification training on Thursday, December 13 at 6:30 PM at the Kewaunee County Fair Grounds, 625 3rd Street, Luxemburg. The cost of the training is $15. Please register by December 12 by calling 920-388-7141.

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Algoma's Haack named Wisconsin State Fair Supreme Dairy Exhibitor

By Tim Kowols

 

Algoma’s Carmen Haack’s junior Wisconsin State Fair career officially came to a close earlier this week when she was named the event’s Supreme Dairy Exhibitor. The status is based on three different elements: showmanship, knowledge masters, and animal placement. It came down to Haack’s win in the knowledge masters contest to capture the title after taking third in showmanship and two of her animals took first place in their classes. Haack says the title of Supreme Dairy Exhibitor is humbling.

 

 

Haack, currently studying dairy science and agriculture business management at UW-Madison, says showmanship is her favorite of the three elements because it is based on how well you present your animal, not on the cow itself.

 

We know this awesome, smiling dairy woman featured on the WI 4-H Foundation page! Congratulations Carmen! As always, you make all of Kewaunee County 4-H so, so proud!

Posted by Kewaunee County 4-H, WI on Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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Farmers hope Evers helps restore family operations

By Tim Kowols       

The director representing Door and Kewaunee counties on the Wisconsin Farmers Union board hopes the election of Governor-elect Tony Evers help reverse the trend of family farms disappearing in Wisconsin. According to ABC News, Wisconsin is losing one and a half dairy farms a day and the western half of the state is leading the nation in agricultural bankruptcy claims. Rick Adamski represents 21 counties including Door and Kewaunee on the Wisconsin Farmers Union Board of Directors. He points some of the blame for lagging milk prices on Governor Scott Walker's Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 program, which helped farmers expand production that is exceeding demand. Adamski says he hopes the new administration places more focus on people than capital.



Despite his lack of an agricultural background, Adamski hopes Governor-elect Evers helps address the financial crisis underway in the industry caused by tariffs and other factors.

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All commodity prices staying low for area farmers

By Paul Schmitt    

Milk prices are not the only commodity causing local farmers angst this year.  According to Rich Olson of Olson Family Farm in southern Door County, farmers usually have at least one or two commodities that they can count on being above average.



 

Olson says other farmers he has talked to are getting discouraged about the trend.  According to farmfutures.com, corn typically has trouble rallying seasonally in November, and a bearish soybean situation could hold back prices.  A slowdown in the milk production and a stronger demand is needed to see higher prices for milk in 2019, according to Olson.

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Why be a Christmas tree farmer? Series on Careers

By Tim Kowols       

The last eight to ten years of care comes down to the next seven weeks as people begin their search for the perfect Christmas tree. Tammy Aissen and her family have run Aissen Tree Farm in Pilsen since 1998, planting thousands of seedlings annually in the hope they will stand in a home to make Christmas memories seven to eight years later. It is a tradition Aissen's parents have been a part of for 60 years at their own tree farm in Wisconsin Rapids. Picking pinecones, trimming branches, checking the soil, and controlling the weeds are some of the tasks that get handed down during the months leading up to the Christmas season, making tree farming a year-round job. Aissen says overcutting is every tree farmer's biggest concern.



The tree farm will mark the start of its season with its open house on Saturday and Sunday, but Aissen recommends early cutters to keep the tree in a cool place until it gets a little closer to Christmas.

 

Photo courtesy of the Aissen Family

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Farmer pays it forward after Red River barn fire

By Tim Kowols       

Shaun Hardtke was 15 years old when his family barn caught fire and lost the entire herd, so the decision to help his neighbor in Red River in a time of need was easy. Late Friday evening, firefighters from 12 different departments fought a multiple alarm fire at a barn owned by Mark and Rachel LeCaptain into the early morning hours. The barn is a complete loss and according to the Luxemburg Fire Department, approximately 30 animals perished in the fire. However, crews were able to save other structures on the farm and a barn at Casco's Kinnard Farms is now home to the approximately 100 cows that were able to be saved. Over sixteen years after going through the heartbreak of a barn fire himself, Hardtke says it is an honor to pay it forward.



Hardtke says it takes an extra two to three hours a day to switch cows in and out so they can be milked, but adds it is just what you do in a time of need. Crews required 20 tender trucks, three fill sites, and nine hours to extinguish the blaze.

 

Photo by Shaun Hardtke

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Town of Lincoln extends large farm creation and expansion moratorium

By Tim Kowols       

Farmers running confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in the Town of Lincoln will not be able to expand for another six months after the board extended its moratorium earlier this week.  Passed in September 2017, the moratorium forbids CAFOs from constructing new or expanding their operations to add more animals. Town board member Nick Cochart says they needed the additional six months because they have not received any solutions on a number of their findings in order to pass more permanent ordinances.



Cochart says the extension was in part because of the board's conversation with Dairy Dreams owner and Peninsula Pride Farms president Don Niles during the meeting about the potential impact of the moratorium and the positive changes being made in their agricultural practices.

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Farmers prepping for next year with hopes of milk price increase

By Paul Schmitt    

Area farmers are making the transition from harvesting to maintenance.  With the majority of field work completed for the season and crops stored for the fall, local farmers are already thinking towards next year.  Jim Wautier of Church-Site Farms in Brussels and a member of the DoorCountyDailyNews.com Ag Advisory Board says now is a good time to check over farm equipment.



 

Wautier says the next duties on the farm will be getting the cattle and buildings ready for the cold winter.  He says the milking operations on the dairy farm are going well but would be better if milk prices would go up.  According to Wisconsin Agriculturist, the USDA is forecasting a 1.5 percent increase in milk production for 2019.

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Farmers running out of time for cover crops

By Tim Kowols       

The wet start to fall could end up preventing many farmers in Door and Kewaunee counties from planting cover crops. With the encouragement of Peninsula Pride Farms, many operators have started annually planting cover crops as a way to help control soil erosion and make it more productive. Cover cropping is also one of the strategies used to help address the area's groundwater concerns. Weather pushed the harvest back in some area fields and prevented farmers from simultaneously planting a variety of different cover crops. AgSource Labortories' Nick Guilette helps farmers write nutrient management plans and says they are running out of options if they want to still plant this fall.

 



Guilette says he has been telling farmers success cover cropping four out of five years is not a bad goal to shoot for given the unpredictability of Mother Nature.

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Farmers salvaging soybean crop despite wet fields

By Paul Schmitt    

The abundance of rain this fall has challenged local farmers in getting their crops off in a timely manner in October.  According to Enviroweather.com, areas in Door and Kewanee counties have received up to nearly six inches of rain in October already.  Jim Wautier of Church-Site Farm in Brussels and a member of the DoorCountyDailyNews.com Ag Advisory Board, says the soybean harvest was hit and miss this fall.



 

Wautier says the early heat this summer and the recent heavier rains made for an unusual season for farmers.   The average rainfall in Door County for the entire month of October is only 2.66 inches of rain, according to wisconline.com.

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Ag Career Days open eyes for middle school students

By Tim Kowols       

Twenty-five different career paths in agriculture were featured Wednesday during the first day of Ag Career Days held at Kinnard Farms in Casco. A joint effort between the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, over 700 students from Algoma, Kewaunee, Luxemburg-Casco, Denmark, and Southern Door school districts will learn about the different careers associated with the industry, ranging from managing the food animals eat to marketing the products they produce. Lee Kinnard from Kinnard Farms says it is a great opportunity to open the eyes of students who may never realized the opportunities right in their back yard.



Algoma Middle School science teacher Penny Lemberger says being exposed to the different careers gives them a better idea of which path to take and how to do it.



This was the fourth time the KCEDC and NWTC combined forces to put on Ag Career Days, which runs every other year opposite the newly created Manufacturing Career Days. Co-chairperson Toni Sorenson says it takes over 100 volunteers to put on the event over its two day run.

[vc_video link="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9MK4XZ_s3M"]

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Weather raining on parade for farmers

By Tim Kowols       

The United States Department of Agriculture expects it to be a banner year for corn and soybean croppers this year, but farmers in Door and Kewaunee counties will have to wait to experience it themselves. Several weeks of rain has left fields too wet to work in, leaving crops ripe for harvesting sit. Rio Creek Feed Mill owner Jerry Barta says while soybeans near the ground have rising waters to worry about, the fall winds could play an even a bigger factor for the unharvested corn.



Barta encourages farmers to get out into their fields as soon as possible and not wait for a more natural drying of their crops to prevent possible harvest loss.

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Door County 4-H Youth Horse and Pony Project keeps equine love alive

By Tim Kowols       

Local riders will descend on Bley's Farm in Egg Harbor next Sunday to support the Door County 4-H's Youth Horse and Pony Project. Whether 4-H members have an animal or not, the Youth Horse and Pony Project helps them become more comfortable with its care and riding. Pamela Parks from the Door County 4-H Youth Horse and Pony Project says the group is for all ability and interest levels.



The program's Fall Trail Ride steps off October 14 at 10 a.m. with all proceeds from the event benefitting the Door County 4-H Horse and Pony Project. You can find more details on how you participate online with this story.

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Kewaunee County UW-Extension hosts dairy profitability session

By Aerica Bjurstrom, Kewaunee County UW-Extension Agriculture Educator      

Join UW Extension farm management specialists on Wednesday, October 10 from 10:00 am -1:30 pm for a seminar, Finding the Leaks in Your Dairy Profitability Pipeline. With a new agriculture trade deal on the table, and new dairy policies set to be implemented, this seminar is an excellent opportunity to listen to University of Wisconsin specialists who are experts in dairy farm management. Gain knowledge on dairy policy, federal farm programs, farm benchmarks, and understanding your cost of production.

Speakers include Mark Stephenson and Jenny Vanderlin from UW Center for Dairy Profitability, and Kevin Bernhardt, UW Extension Farm Management Specialist.

The meeting will take place at the Kewaunee County Highway Shop, E4280 County F, in Kewaunee.

This meeting is free and lunch will be provided.

Please RSVP by visiting our website at fyi.uwex.edu/kewauneeag or by calling 388-7141.

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Door County honeycrisp apples being picked in time for big weekend

By Paul Schmitt    

Area apple orchards are busy harvesting the last of their crop this fall.  Steve Wood of Wood Orchards in Egg Harbor and Sturgeon Bay says the Pumpkin Patch weekend is the busiest of the season for northern Door County orchards.  He updates the progress of the Door County "Big Four" apples.



 

Wood says the severe thunderstorms earlier this week did not negatively affect his apple crop.  He says apple cider and donuts are also in high demand right now.

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Kewaunee County farmers playing tour guide during World Dairy Expo

By Tim Kowols       

The World Dairy Expo may be over 150 miles away in Madison, but that is not stopping international visitors from visiting operations in Kewaunee County. Pagel's Ponderosa Dairy, Cornette Dairy, Kinnard Farms, and Junion Homestead Farm are just some of the local operations playing host to industry professionals from as far away as Japan and Germany. Tom Cornette says his German visitors were most interested in his Luxemburg facility and how it has helped improve production from his herd in recent years. That does not mean Cornette is not learning while he is teaching.



Kewaunee County youth are having a successful week showing cows at the World Dairy Expo itself this week, including reserve champion honors for Carmen Haack of Algoma and her heifer Spike. More Kewaunee County juniors are expected to show animals through the World Dairy Expo's close on Saturday.

 

Photo courtesy of Cornette Dairy

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Farm Technology Days grant applications due October 1st

By Aerica Bjurstrom, Kewaunee County UW-Extension Agriculture Educator      

Kewaunee County Farm Technology Days was a huge success for our community, with a wonderful host family, record number of volunteers, and amazing attendees. Now, the Kewaunee County Farm Technology Days Executive Committee would like to give back to the community in the form of grants.

Grants will be awarded based on applications received by the Executive Committee. Grant guidelines and application can be found online at fyi.uwex.edu/kewauneeag or at the Kewaunee County Extension office located at 810 Lincoln St in Kewaunee. Grant funds awards will be a maximum of $5,000 per application. The deadline for submitting a proposal is Monday, October 1, 2018. Grant proposals can be dropped off at our office or emailed to 2017ftdgivesback@gmail.com.

The Executive Committee has already given $103,000 to 20 local charities that volunteered during the show. The committee will also be setting up a scholarship program, and a Legacy Community Project. For more information please visit our website at Kewaunee.uwex.edu.

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Pumpkin patches ready for pickers

By Tim Kowols       

Warmer weather earlier this month helped things move along quicker for pumpkin growers. It is peak harvest time for fans of the popular gourd, with prime picking season taking place well into October. Dry, warm weather caused some pumpkins to grow smaller and mature faster, but Hillside Apples owner Bill Roethle says there are ways you can keep them from spoiling too soon.



Roethle adds the recent cool weather is also helping keep the pumpkins ripe for the picking.

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Ag Career Days hopes to harvest future at Kinnard Farms

By Tim Kowols       

Kewaunee County hopes to recruit future agriculture professionals at its annual career days at Kinnard Farms in Casco. A joint effort between the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation and the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Luxemburg Regional Learning Center, seventh through ninth graders from Algoma, Denmark, Kewaunee, Luxemburg-Casco, and Southern Door School Districts will learn about careers that go beyond the barn. From milk testing and cropping to robotics and business management, Sarah Nelson from NWTC Luxemburg says there are many agriculture-related careers students do not know about yet.



Kewaunee County Ag Career Days will take place October 17th and 18th after spring snow storms postponed the biennial event in April.

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Farmers turn to harvest mode as fall officially starts

By Paul Schmitt    

As the calendar changes to fall this weekend, Door and Kewaunee County farmers are in the stretch run for harvesting their crops. Rich Olson of Olson Family Farm in southern Door County and a member of the DoorCountyDailyNews.com Ag Advisory Board says the harvest is going well.



 

Olson says soybeans are dropping their leaves currently and will need to have the pods dry out for the beans to be cultivated by mid-October.

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