State News: Dairy Innovation, Fall Farming Challenges

Baldwin: Money for Dairy Innovation Could Help Farmers

During a visit to a Westby creamery on Monday, Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin said she’s hopeful the U.S. Senate will approve an $18 million increase for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiative, which could help the state’s dairy farmers and dairy industry. 

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved a bill that would increase the program’s funding from the current $2 million to $20 million.

“It will help to address the oversupply of milk by providing resources to help dairy farmers and cheesemakers develop new products, new processes and expand their markets,” Baldwin said.

Last month, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Dairy Research and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association were selected to host one of three initiative sites. They received $454,392 to provide grants and workshops to producers and processors in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota and Illinois.

Wet Fall Challenges Farmers Waiting to Spread Manure

Extremely wet weather has put much of Wisconsin at high risk for manure runoff during the next few days. Record-setting rains and saturated soils are making it difficult for some farmers who have been waiting for a safe window to spread manure on fields. 

Last month was one of the state’s five wettest Septembers on record, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. Northeastern Wisconsin was among the areas hardest hit, including Green Bay, which has already set a new rainfall record this year. Green Bay saw 9.37 inches of rain last month, surpassing the record of 7.8 inches in 1965. Other areas, including Appleton, Oconto, Peshtigo and Marinette, also had record rainfall for September.

“We maybe had a handful of five or so spills/runoff events here alone in [the] northeast, primarily due to the saturated soils we had,” said Joe Baeten, northeast runoff supervisor with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 

In August, the Kewaunee County Public Health Department issued a drinking-water advisory after heavy rains contributed to manure runoff from farms, according to the Green-Bay Press Gazette.  

“We have to find a way through these high-moisture conditions,” said Don Niles, president of Peninsula Pride Farms, a farmer-led group that met with state and local officials in northeastern Wisconsin recently to discuss ways to work through wet conditions, which is causing challenges with harvesting crops and spreading manure safely. 

Wisconsin Communities Look to Education to Improve Health

With more research showing that health is tied to where people live and how much education they have, some Wisconsin schools are enlisting the help of local businesses and community groups to help kids learn and, hopefully, improve health outcomes.

This was the subject of a recent forum by the Evidence-Based Health Policy Project at the state Capitol. 

One success story that experts highlighted was the city of Algoma in Kewaunee County. In 2008, the county ranked 24th for overall health, according to a UW-Madison Population Health Institute report. Since then, the community of 3,167 has worked its way up in the rankings, even earning the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize in 2017. 

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