By University of  Wisconsin
MIDDLETON, Wis. — A $10 million commercial biotech plant laboratory in Middleton, first opened in 1982 with the help of University of Wisconsin–Madison scientists, will soon become part of UW–Madison following a donation from Monsanto Co.
The facility, a labyrinth of greenhouses and laboratories where some of plant biotechnology’s first critical steps were taken, was officially donated to UW–Madison’s University Research Park by Monsanto in December to become the hub of the new Wisconsin Crop Innovation Center (WCIC).
“This gift will enable us to create a plant biotechnology facility unparalleled in the public sector,” said UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Dean Kate VandenBosch. 

By Greg Hedrich
MALONE, Wis. — When people talk about Wisconsin as “America’s Dairyland,” the first thing that comes to mind is cows.
Goats? Not so much.
The fact that my parents, my siblings and I operate a successful goat dairy, LaClare Farms, in this bovine-centric landscape certainly has helped us grab our share of appearances on news, travel and public interest TV shows.
But nothing could have prepared us for our latest (and, by far, biggest) broadcast appearance: A 10-lb. wheel of our world-renowned Evalon Cheese was featured in the Jan. 23 episode of ABC’s “The Bachelor.”
If that sounds too good to be true, keep in mind one important caveat: After the producers and director did their editing thing, our product only appeared on the screen for about 5 seconds. But still, what a five seconds! It’s not every day that you get even that much of the spotlight in front of 7 million viewers.
(Left on the cutting room floor was an extended sequence which involved the “bachelorettes” competing in a cheese-rolling competition with that wheel. America’s viewers will never know the silliness that ensued.)

MADISON — Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben Brancel is encouraging farmers to attend a seminar on Feb. 1 to learn more about the Request for Proposals for a manure biodigester system.
The seminar, offered by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, is scheduled from 9:30 a.m to 3 p.m. on Feb. 1 and will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Alumni Welcome & Conference Center.
“The seminar will be an excellent networking opportunity for farmers who have questions about the RFP, said Secretary Brancel, “Being able to meet one-on-one with the businesses looking to create a consortium and invest in the project and learn how their farming operation might benefit from participating as well as knowing the challenges will assist in the decision making process.”
Registration is open until 5 p.m. Thursday. To register, go to A three-question survey precedes the registration screen.

PicturePhoto courtesy of UW-Madison CALS
By University of Wisconsin-Extension
Tools, technology and a changing workforce are driving changes in the agriculture landscape – changes that can to have a positive impact on the agriculture industry both in Wisconsin and across the world, according to John Shutske, University of Wisconsin-Extension biological systems specialist at UW-Madison.
“The rapid increase in technology changes that has expanded our computing capability has also caused decreases in the costs to do business,” Shutske said. “Through exponential growth, we’ve engaged in warp drive and are rapidly approaching light speed when it comes to changes in technology.”
Exponential growth, when applied to technology using Moore’s Law – named after an early computer pioneer – tells us that computing power doubles approximately every 12 to 18 months.
“We have a lot of computer capability to harness and leverage to our advantage,” Shutske told attendees at the recent Wisconsin Agribusiness Classic conference.
The increasing computer capability plays a role in four of the five top trends Shutske sees having an impact on Wisconsin agriculture: Big Data, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, a sharing/collaborative economy, and the role of women in agriculture.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The 15th annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference at the Bavarian Inn and Conference Center in Frankenmuth, Mich., on Feb. 2-4 will focus on the latest in milk quality, hoof care, antimicrobial drug use, consumer transparency and market outlooks to help dairy producers remain successful today and into the future.
The conference kicks off Feb. 2 with a pre-conference session in which Michigan producers, managers and employees will discuss progress and pitfalls of antimicrobial drug use in Michigan herds, gained from a study funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.

MADISON, Wis. – A Request for Proposals targeted to business consortiums and farmers interested in utilizing anaerobic digester technology to build, operate and maintain a system to treat manure from dairy farms is now available from the Public Service Commission. Anaerobic digesters work to produce renewable energy in the form of biogas and incorporate a system for treating wastewater that will capture nutrients and reduce pathogens. 
Late last year, Gov. Scott Walker, in an effort to address water quality, asked the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to step up, think big and draft a Request for Proposal.
To make this public/private project possible, PSC authorized Focus on Energy to spend up to $20 million for Integrated Anaerobic Digester projects that meet Focus on Energy eligibility requirements.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- One of the Midwest's premiere conferences for the dairy farming community will be held Jan. 18 and 19 at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison, Wis.
Dairy Strong 2017: The Journey Forward will bring together more than 600 farmers, corporate professionals and government and university representatives to explore the future of an integral part of the culture and economy of Wisconsin and the nation.
The conference will include a panel discussion about the growing Latino influence on U.S. food, agriculture and culture, featuring panelists from the Latino media, cuisine and farming community. 
Jack Uldrich, acclaimed global futurist and best-selling author, will be a keynote speaker. Uldrich provides practical and actionable insights on future trends, emerging technologies and innovation. He is an adviser to Fortune 1000 companies and has spoken to hundreds of businesses and organizations on five continents.

PictureTamas Houlihan
ANTIGO, Wis. -- Members of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) work every day to preserve and protect Wisconsin’s water. Over the next few months, growers will be presenting factual, scientific information to local governmental bodies throughout Central Wisconsin in order to keep environmental discussions focused on science and facts.
“WPVGA members are environmental stewards who are committed to working with our neighbors to advance sound, science-based policies that protect Wisconsin’s groundwater,” said WPVGA Executive Director Tamas Houlihan. “We welcome opportunities to develop and promote responsible water use practices that will protect the groundwater aquifer of the Central Sands and its associated streams, lakes and wetlands.”
The WPVGA has compiled a High Capacity Well Fact Book of relevant scientific research that focuses on the actual impact irrigated agriculture has on the aquifer and surface water in areas like the Central Sands region of Wisconsin. This fact book is the basis for their member-given presentations which will take place over the next few months before county boards in Portage, Marquette, Wood, Waushara, Adams and Waupaca counties.
“The fact is, studies show irrigated agriculture returns more water to the stream flow than non-irrigated agriculture or non-crop landscapes,” Houlihan said. “We remain committed to finding science-based solutions to preserve and protect this precious resource and we support efforts that focus on facts, not rhetoric.”
A copy of the Fact Book can be downloaded at

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Pork is partnering with Feeding Indiana’s Hungry and Indiana’s State Association of Food Banks to donate 3,300 pounds of ground pork to be distributed to food banks across the state.
“We are grateful for the generosity of Indiana’s Pork producers and their commitment to providing Hoosiers at risk of hunger with Indiana raised pork. Donating ground pork to our food banks helps clients eat healthier and access a nutritious protein source that is often difficult for them to afford,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.
The pork donation was made possible in part from a grant received from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. ISDA awarded Indiana Pork a grant to promote the Indiana Pork tents at the 2016 Indiana State Fair. For each pork meal upgrade purchased, Indiana Pork donated one ground pork meal to FIsH. Fairgoers showed their love of the Indiana Pork tents during the State Fair and helped make it possible for Indiana’s 3,000 family-owned hog farms to donate 3,300 pounds of ground pork, feeding an estimated 13,173 Hoosiers.
“The entire year, but especially during the Christmas season, Hoosiers are compassionate to the hunger issue around the state. Indiana’s hog farmers feel privileged to help provide to those around the state who may be struggling a bit this holiday,” said Jeanette Merritt, director of checkoff programs at Indiana Pork.
Feeding Indiana’s Hungry was created to maximize public-private partnerships that link hunger service providers, food producers and processors from around the state The partnerships enable food and funding resources to be more effectively identified and coordinated to better serve Hoosiers in need. Learn more at

Rosalie Geiger of Reedsville, Wis., has been appointed by the American Farm Bureau Federation to its Promotion and Education Committee for the 2017-2019 term beginning in March.
Geiger currently serves as the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Committee Chair.
Geiger and her husband, Randy, have a 360-acre dairy farm near Reedsville. Along with milking 50 registered cows and raising heifers they grow alfalfa, corn, soybeans and wheat. She is active in several organizations, including serving as director for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Other new members from the Midwest include Renee McCauley of Michigan; Hilary Maricle of Nebraska; and Val Wagner of North Dakota.
The Promotion and Education Committee is comprised of 10 individuals representing qualifying Farm Bureau Promotion and Education states. It was launched in 2014 to develop and centralize resources that inspire and equip Farm Bureau members to convey the significance of agriculture. Committee members support and encourage state Farm Bureau volunteers to participate in projects and activities by providing resources for programs, communicating with state leaders and contributing collaborative ideas.