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Bob's Column For The Country Today

 

RURAL LIFE DAY ATTRACTS BIG CROWD TO THE FARM

      Next year the event will move to the southern end of the diocese where it will be hosted by the Prairie du Chien deanery. Read more...

SOIL HEALTH MOST IMPORTANT FOR CONSERVATION FARMER OF THE YEAR

    Smith said he’s happy with how his soils have responded to his farming practices but he’s always looking for ways to do things better as “the fifth generation has already signed the papers to keep the farm in the family for many years to come”, he told us. Read more...

ALASKAN DAIRIES FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL

Another challenge they face is finding crop land because of  the expanding population in the Palmer area.  In the past few years the value of that land has shot up to $25,000 an acre but the Havermeisters say they won’t sell and they are determined to keep their dairy farm operating to provide Alaska Fresh milk to their neighbors. Read more...

FFA TRADITIONS ARE A FAMILY AFFAIR

       All four will move on to represent their sections, the state and their families at this year’s National FFA Convention in October in Louisville. Read more...

DAIRY PRICING ASSOCIATION PLANNING FOR LOWER DAIRY PRICES

           To get more information on the Dairy Pricing Association, go to their website at www.dairypricing.org. Read more...

SPRING HORSE EXTRAVAGANZAS FACED CHALLENGES THIS YEAR

           One of the attributes of the breed that owners like, she said, is their temperament.  By breeding draft blood into the Appaloosa, they have developed a breed that is “easy to be around and easy to work with to train for riding or driving”, Jones said.  Her goals for bringing her horses to Madison were to get the name of the breed “out there” and try to get Sugarbush horses in every county in the state. Read more...

MIDWEST DAIRY IS GREEN AND GROWING

        Latest statistics show that their efforts are paying off.  Milk production in South Dakota topped two billion pounds in 2013 and that put South Dakota on the list last year as one of the 23 top milk producing states in the country, moving Missouri down to the 24th spot.  The South Dakota dairy industry is located primarily in the eastern part of the state but as Lentsch said, “it will follow the feed in the future and as they grow more corn in the western part of the state, dairy will follow.”  There are no concerns either that dairy production will outgrow their processing capacity anytime soon as Lentsch told us “we could double our dairy production and still not meet the supply needs of the dairy plants currently operating in South Dakota.” Read more...

DESERET RANCH IS WELL KEPT SECRET

      While the current Deseret  and Citrus Ranch is the biggest cow-calf operation in the country currently, it may not be in the future.  The Mormon Church recently bought a 380,000 acre ranch in the Florida panhandle which is now in timber but eventually will be logged off in parcels and provide more land to graze their constantly growing cattle herd. Read more...

ALFALFA STANDS BATTLING COLD TEMPERATURES TOO

       Many areas of Wisconsin lost alfalfa stands last year due to the cold, wet weather of late winter and early spring around the state.  That has meant many dairy farmers have had to scramble for alternative feeds for their herds since the haylage piles have been so much smaller for the feeding season.  Farmers are anxiously watching the winter weather and are hopeful the bitterly cold temperatures in December and much of January won’t lead to another extensive round of winterkill across the state.  

          According to Dr. Dan Undersander, UW-Madison Forage Specialist there shouldn’t be a problem  At the recent Agronomy Update and other forage meetings around the state , Undersander said he’s not worried about the cold taking out alfalfa stands, “because of the good snow cover we have across the state that’s protecting the plants.” As long as the snow stays, he said, the alfalfa should be in good shape.  He reminded producers that the years when winterkill has been a problem in Wiscosnin was when there was little or no snow cover.

         The key to alfalfa surviving the winter is the temperature of the crown of the plant which is two to four inches below the soil surface.  If the temperature at that level gets to about 13 degrees the alfalfa will die if the temperature stays that cold for about three to four hours.  That, Undersander says, shouldn’t happen this year because “snow is a tremendous insulator that protects the plants from the outside air temperature.”

         Earlier this month the soil temperature at four inches on bare ground fell to seven or eight degrees, Undersander reported.  But “that was still about 30 degrees warmer than the actual air temperature”, he added.  Under the snow cover the four inch soil temperature during the recent cold snap was 28 to 30 degrees, meaning the snow was insulating the ground to another 25 to 30 degrees higher than the air temperature. Added together, that means the ground, under the snow, was about 50 degrees warmer than the air temperature, providing a safe environment for the alfalfa plants.  Undersander said that’s why he’s confident the alfalfa, up to this point of the winter is doing well.

         The importance of the continued snow cover is that it prevents frost from penetrating deep into the soil taking soil temperatures down with it.  When soil freezes it seldom falls below 26 or 28 degrees, Undersander told his audiences, if there is a snow cover, because, “snow cover always trumps air temperature” he said.  

          During his presentations, Undersander reminded the farmers that survival depends on keeping temperatures above 15 degrees at the crown not at the regrowth of the plant.  As long as there is as little as four inches of loose snow on the ground, it will insulate up to 16 degrees of air temperature and since there is much more than four inches of snow cover across the state, our stands are doing well as we get ready for the next cold round of weather.

            Undersander also told farmers not to be concerned about alfalfa stands smothering under heavy snows as the stems will stand up through the snow cover and provide air to the plants as they poke through the cover.  The same, he said, can’t always be said for grassy stands or pastures as grasses tend to lay over and can smother under heavy blankets of snow.

            The deep snow cover should also provi Read more...

VILSACK WANTS A FARM BILL FOR EVERYONE

     At a stopover in Kansas City last week on his way to California, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spent about an hour discussing farm policy, mainly progress on a new farm bill, with members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting at the group’s annual convention.  He emphasized that a farm bill reaches far and wide and has a major effect on the country as a whole, not just farm country.  Vilsack told the broadcasters, “The country, not just the rural parts and farmers, needs a farm bill because of the policy certainty that comes with a farm bill.”  He added that during his visits around the country in recent months, he’s heard real concerns from farmers that “They can’t make decisions, they don’t know what to do.  Some would like to expand their operations or go into a new operation or buy a new piece of equipment, but they are hesitant to do any of that because they simply don’t know what the programs are going to be or if there is going to be a program.”

        The secretary said a strong farm safety net needs to be the basis of a new farm bill based on today’s farming environment.  That’s where he believes the discussion gets off track.  Negotiators talk about the importance of farm programs to farmers, but the discussion, he feels, “needs to be expanded because it’s important to all Americans.”  He emphasized to the farm broadcasters that as a farmer, “You can do everything right and still end up with no crop through no fault of your own.”  Without an adequate safety net, to reduce risk to a manageable level, he argued, a lot of people could get out of the business.  If that happens Vilsack said, “We could eventually see our country going from a food secure nation that produces enough to feed our people and more around the world to a food insecure nation.” That, he added, could very well threaten our nation’s strength and safety if we have to depend on others.

     Another reason a new, long term farm bill is good for everyone across the country, he added, is because this is a reform bill.  He noted that reform now seems to be in the form of budget cuts almost across the board and that makes a farm bill fiscally responsible because we would know where we are going.  Among other things he said, a new farm bill would help hold down interest rates and encourage consumer spending, something that would help all Americans.

    He also cited conservation programs as another area that benefits everyone across the country.  He pointed out that,” Nearly half of the U.S. land mass is tied up in farming and ranching and forestry and those industries have a huge impact on air and water quality as well as soil health and fertility, all things that sustain life.”

    Expansion of market opportunities is another area of the farm bill that has benefits for more than just farmers. Farm bill programs and initiatives, Vilsack said, have promoted local and regional food systems, export markets and new bio-based manufacturing operations that produce new products. Those activities all create jobs Vilsack pointed out, “And the more jobs we have in the economy, the stronger our economy is, the less the deficit is and the stronger the nation is.”

    A new farm bill also has to be considered an innovation bill, according to the secretary.  Part of the funding in the bill will go to research at our land grant universities.  That research Vilsack said, “ provides jobs in those university towns and new ways to do business to market our increasing agricultural production around the world.”  Our innovative agricultural research has helped make Read more...