Skip to main content

Category: Agriculture

Dairy market reports show optimism, but uncertainty, for higher prices, slowing production

Wisconsin State Farmer

Industry experts Mark Stephenson and Bob Cropp say they see optimism in price and supply for the coming months, according to the latest episode of the Dairy Markets and Policy podcast.

Cropp, professor emeritus of UW-Madison’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, said cold storage reports bring both bad and good news to dairy farmers: American cheese stocks are slowly decreasing at 2% this month, but butter stocks have gone up 14% in the same timeframe. Stephenson, director of the Center for Dairy Profitability, said cheese stocks will continue to see rising price support.

‘It’s five years since a white person applied’: the immigrant workforce milking America’s cows

The Guardian

Noted: Green county has seen one of the state’s fastest growths in Latino population, increasing by an estimated 228% from 2000 to 2019, according to the Applied Population Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Monroe is the largest city in Green county and has seen a steady increase of Latino immigrants over 20 years. With a population of only about 10,800, new people stand out, which has made the adjustment, like the farm work, incredibly difficult for some dairy workers.

Carbon-capture pipelines offer climate aid; activists wary

Associated Press

Quoted: “These early plants are relatively easy and that’s a good place to start,” said Greg Nemet, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in the development of climate-friendly energy technology. “As that gets shown and proven, you get some transportation networks, then it gets easier to do the harder stuff later.”

Small Farms Vanish Every Day in America’s Dairyland: “There Ain’t No Future In Dairy”

Mother Jones

Quoted: Mark Stephenson, the director of dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the industry definitely has a lot of challenges but is nowhere near extinction.

“We’ve produced record amounts of milk in the last year or two. It’s being consumed. Most of it domestically, but increasingly with exports,” said Stephenson.

Wisconsin group works to conserve and restore prairies

Spectrum News

Quoted: Earth’s vegetation is changing as fast as it did during the Ice Age, according to University of Wisconsin geography and climate professor Jack Williams. Organizations like the Prairie Enthusiasts conserving and restoring land makes a big difference.

“One of the things we’ve definitely learned from the past is that when climates change, species move and one way we can help those species is helping this movement across these modern, fragmented, very much transformed landscapes,” Williams said.



As fisheries managers consider ecosystem approaches, new study suggests no need for new strategies

Seafood Source

Quoted: “Management of forage fish populations should be based on data that are specific to that forage fish, and to their predators,” University of Wisconsin-Madison Associate Professor Olaf Jensen, a co-author of the study, said. “When there aren’t sufficient data to conduct a population-specific analysis, it’s reasonable to manage forage fish populations for maximum sustainable yield, as we would other fish populations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.”

The hackers are out there. You could be next


Quoted: “The classic thing is that attackers go in and lurk, sometimes for very long periods of time, and maybe exfiltrate data,” said Molly Jahn, a plant geneticist at University of Wisconsin-Madison who was undersecretary of research, education and economics at USDA in 2009 and 2010 and has done extensive research on cybersecurity. Jahn is currently on loan to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) but spoke to Agri-Pulse in her personal capacity as an expert.

Native bees need saving too, research shows decline across Midwest

Spectrum News

This summer, UW-Madison researchers further looked at the links between certain types of crops, the growth in those types of crops and the correlation to a decline in native bees across the state and the midwest as a whole.

“Rarer [bees] that have become increasingly rare, they might not be able to thrive because we’ve eliminated those flowers that they need from the landscape,” said Jeremy Hemberger, a research entomologist at UW-Madison “by converting prairies and wetlands to agriculture and developments.”

The decline of native bees is a decades-long problem that keeps the list of endangered bees growing.

“Native bees are silently playing these really important roles, so just people becoming more aware that there’s all these other groups out there that through our actions we could be supporting, I think is a really valuable thing,” UW-Madison professor Claudio Gratton said.

New Federal Funding Aimed At Small Meat Processors Could Help Industry Capitalize On Pandemic Demand

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Jeff Sindelar is a meat specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension. He said small and mid-size processors saw demand for their services and products expand rapidly in 2020, after coronavirus outbreaks forced large processing plants to reduce capacity or shut down.

“They were really stressed because (farmers) were needing places to go with their animals, (consumers) were interested in buying more protein, and there was also this small hoarding phenomenon that was going on for a short period of time,” Sindelar said.

“We are not out of the woods yet.” Despite rainfall, farmers continue to struggle through drought conditions


Quoted: It’s the worst drought in nearly a decade according to Jerry Clark, Agriculture Agent for Division of Extension, UW-Madison, Chippewa County.

“I think the rain we received over the last week has alleviated some of the drought stress and the crop are small enough yet especially for corn and soybeans that if this drought occurs in another month where we get high temperatures and start to run out of moisture, that is when we will definitely start to see the hit on the yield side locally,” Clark said.

State “Pollinator Protection Package” Would Target Harmful Pesticides


Quoted: Christelle Guédot is an associate professor of entomology at UW-Madison. She says establishing more habitat for pollinators could help them out.

“So having more habitats for them, and more connectivity between those habitats, and not have, like, islands of habitat for pollinators, would really help in bringing those populations – not necessarily back to where they were, but improving in their abundance and diversity,” says Guédot.

A real-life butterfly effect: How weather in Africa drives butterfly bursts in Europe


Quoted: This suggests that butterflies as far north as Scandinavia are affected by habitat in countries like Chad and Nigeria. “It’s brilliant, really,” said Karen Oberhauser, a monarch expert and professor of entomology at the University of Wisconsin Madison, who was not involved in the study. “Until you know this, you’d never think that, ‘Wow, what’s going on so far away could have an impact.”

PODCAST: How Does Climate Change Affect Door County?

Door County Pulse

Deb Fitzgerald sits down with Steve Vavrus, Sr. Scientist at the Nelson Institute at UW-Madison, to talk about climate change and what’s in store for Wisconsin in general and Door County’s specifically. They also discussed what’s causing climate change, and some ways people can change their behaviors to reduce their carbon footprints.

Despite Drought Conditions, Wisconsin Corn, Soybeans Still On Track Thanks To Recent Rain

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: The state’s field crops are in fairly good condition, but are behind schedule considering the early planting accomplished by farmers this spring, said Shawn Conley, a soybean and small grains specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension.

“In southern Wisconsin and even northern Wisconsin, it was a record planting time frame this spring,” Conley said. “I had a lot of farmers in southern Wisconsin have all of their crops in by May 1. I talked to a farmer of 40 years and that’s never happened.”

How heat waves form, and how climate change makes them worse


Quoted: “It compounds on itself,” said Jonathan Martin, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Wisconsin Madison. “When you’re dry, you get warm. When you’re excessively warm, you tend to build and strengthen the anticyclone, which encourages continuation of clear skies, which in turn encourages a lack of precipitation, which makes it drier, which makes the incoming solar radiation more able to heat the ground.”

35 years later, shift to specialty cheese paying off for Wisconsin farmers

Spectrum News

Quoted: “Mind you, it’s a difficult thing to do, and to do well,” said Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at UW-Madison.

Stephenson said farmers often make about $20 per hundredweight (cwt) for milk. By selling the cheese instead of the milk, they can get somewhere closer to $100 cwt for their milk.

“Sure, there are additional costs along the way, but potentially the income stream is bigger,” Stephenson said. “But there are a lot of ways it can go wrong.”

Continued Drought Could Affect Wisconsin Fruit, Vegetable Crops

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Amaya Atucha is a fruit crop specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension. She said the hot and dry conditions over the last few weeks have put stress on everything from strawberry plants to apple orchards.

“Plants in general use water mostly to be able to control temperature. So the warmer it gets, the more water they need to be able to cool down,” Atucha explained.

Cole Lubinski manages the UW-Extension’s Langlade Research Station, which supports the state’s potato industry. He said his area has gotten enough moisture so far this year, but farms in the Central Sands have had irrigation systems running around the clock.

“Vegetable crops, they’re considered a high-moisture crop, so it’s very crucial to keep proper soil moisture levels,” Lubinski said. “When you have weeks like last week where there was a lot of heat and you get put on electrical (peak) control, where you can’t run your system if it’s run by electric, then you’re going hours without water for your crop.”

‘Everybody pray for rain’: Southeastern Wisconsin crops and gardens could be damaged if drought and dryness continue

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Joe Lauer, an agronomist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, acknowledged that farmers are anxious about the dry weather, but said that he’s not concerned … yet.

“One of the characteristics of a record-breaking year (for corn) is a mini-drought during the months of May and June,” he said. Lauer explained that a dry spring allows farmers to plant without fighting wet fields.

If you are worried about your garden or lawn, horticulture educator Vijai Pandian from the UW-Madison Extension has some tips to mitigate drought stress on landscape and garden plants.

As Drought Conditions Continue, Southern Wisconsin Farmers Face Uncertain Financial Future


Southern Wisconsin is pushing through an unseasonably dry summer. While the arid, hot days may be uncomfortable for those of us in Madison, it could spell financial trouble for the region’s farmers.

For more, our producer Jonah Chester spoke with Christopher Kucharick, professor of Agronomy at UW-Madison.

A Wet Decade Shifts To Drought In Southern Wisconsin

PBS Wisconsin

Quoted: Dry conditions have been holding pretty steady for the past month or so, said Christopher Kucharik, a climate researcher and professor of agronomy and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The longer they continue, though, the more intense drought becomes, with southeast Wisconsin moving from a moderate to severe level as June started and hot weather descended.

Wisconsin Experiment Grows Cotton In Space To Help Crops On Earth


For the first time, cotton seeds will germinate and grow in space over the next few days, under the supervision down here of UW-Madison botany professor Simon Gilroy.

Gilroy says he wants to clarify this is not to supply fabric for those in orbit. “Yeah, our classic joke when talking about the experiment is the astronauts are going to make their own suits. It’s not what’s its for,” Gilroy tells WUWM.

University of Wisconsin professor sends cotton experiment to space

Spectrum News

A professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is taking his experiments to new heights at the International Space Station (ISS).

Dr. Simon Gilroy is a botany professor at the university. An experiment he and colleagues have been working on for the past three years is now making its way to the ISS after being launched Thursday.

Get some dirt under your nails

Hoard's Dairyman

Perhaps you are a person who works full time at another job but dreams of owning a small farm someday. Or maybe you already operate a farm but want to add another enterprise or start a side business. Whatever your aspirations may be, some of the first steps in making this goal a reality is to create a plan and secure funding.

That was the topic discussed in a University of Wisconsin Division of Extension webinar, titled “Your farm startup: where to begin and who can help?” One of the speakers was Andy Larson, the Farm Outreach Specialist for the Food Finance Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With personal experience as a banker, extension educator, and farmer, one of his first pieces of advice was to “get some dirt under your fingernails.”

“Try it first,” Larson said. “Only real-life, on the ground experience can tell you whether your passion stands up to the daily grind.”

Farmers’ share of average food dollar could increase


Quoted: “The denominator part, or the biggest piece of that, was really that imports declined,” said Mark Stephenson Director of Dairy Policy Analysis at UW Madison.

While it’s too soon to tell now, experts believe that increase could widen because of the pandemic.

“We had restaurants and other institutional portions of sales just decline precipitously during much of 2020,” Stephenson said.

Which processed foods are better than natural?


Quoted: “Cows in cities were milked every day, and people would bring milk in carts back to their neighbourhoods to sell it,” says John Lucey, food science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“As cities got bigger, milk got further away and took longer to get to the consumer, which meant pathogens could multiply.”

High-capacity wells are reducing lake levels in Wisconsin’s Central Sands region, a new study finds

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: The DNR worked with the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, the United States Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin System to complete the research. The agencies looked at several different potential impacts, including recreation, fish, aquatic plants and water chemistry.

Jumping Worms Are Eating — And Altering — Wisconsin’s Forest and Garden Soils

PBS Wisconsin

Noted: Jumping worms were first identified in Wisconsin in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. Just eight years later, the worms have been reported just about everywhere in the state and are highlighted as an invasive species by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“They are, if not in every county, close to it,” said Brad Herrick, an ecologist at the UW Arboretum.

Queer, BIPOC Farmers are Working for a More Inclusive and Just Farming Culture

Civil Eats

Quoted: The lack of data on queer BIPOC farmers is also prevalent in academia, said Jaclyn Wypler, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who studies queer and transgender sustainable farmers in conservative rural communities. Wypler was recently hired as the Northeast project manager of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network at the National Young Farmers Coalition.

“There is discrimination for BIPOC folks and queer folks within academia, including within the environmental and rural and agricultural departments,” Wypler said. As a result, research studies that highlight their experiences are difficult to adequately fund.

Wisconsin Dairy Marketing Group Nationally Recognized For ‘Cheeselandia’ Social Media Campaign

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Sarah Botham teaches agriculture and life sciences marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She said the Cheeselandia campaign is a successful example of the way that agriculture is trying to “market smarter” and with a new customer in mind.

“They are reaching, first of all, people who are really interested in Wisconsin cheese and secondly people who are of a younger demographic,” Botham said. “That generation is interested in not just eating but in understanding where their food comes from, in experiencing the food and sharing it with friends.”

UW-Extension to host new farm management AgriVision podcast series

Chippewa Herald

UW-Madison Division of Extension has a new farm management podcast series based on the Wisconsin Agriculturist magazine’s Agrivision column. Katie Wantoch, associate professor and agriculture agent in Dunn County, hosts the podcast episodes and chats with fellow Extension educators to answer questions from farmers and share their knowledge and expertise on how farmers can improve their farm management skills.

Direction of milk prices for the remainder of year still uncertain

Wisconsin State Farmer

Growing cow numbers and increased milk production have dairy experts walking on a knives edge when predicting the trajectory of milk prices for the coming year.

Mark Stephenson, director of Dairy Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the Center for Dairy Profitability and Bob Cropp, emeritus professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, delved into the factors impacting milk prices for 2021 during the February “Dairy Situation and Outlook” podcast this week.

Caledonia farmer likes to ‘shake things up’ by trying vegetables for collaborative

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Amy Wallner is one of the farmers who enjoy digging up data for the University of Wisconsin’s Seed to Kitchen Collaborative. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in horticulture and soil science, she learned through the Department of Horticulture website about the collaboration, which aims to come up with delicious vegetable varieties that grow well in the Upper Midwest

‘Hope And Uncertainty’: 2021 Could Bring Better Farm Margins, But Questions Remain About Markets

Wisconsin Public Radio

Paul Mitchell, director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said farmers, like many people, faced a lot of stress in 2020. He said the pandemic brought both emotional stress, as COVID-19 spread in rural areas, and stress for their profession, due to disruptions to supply chains and consumer eating habits.

Despite Challenges, Wisconsin Farmers Projected To End 2020 With Higher Average Income

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Paul Mitchell, director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the forecast is slightly higher than last quarter’s estimate, partly because of a price rally for corn and soybeans seen around harvest time.

“Cash revenues, from soybeans especially, are up compared to where they were in September. It’s rare to have prices go up at harvest when everyone is bringing crops in,” Mitchell said

WDNR: Plan Ahead if You Want to Plant Native Species in the Spring

Spectrum News

Quoted: Some native plants are tied to the survival of a specific species. Like milkweed and monarch butterflies. Experts at UW-Madison say people planting milkweed in midwest have helped monarch populations survive.

“Basically right now we have thousands of people that are working to preserve monarch habitat, and i really think that without these efforts monarchs would be a lot worse off,” said Karen Oberhauser, director of the UW-Madison Arboretum.

Is Dairy Farming Cruel to Cows?

New York Times

Quoted: “It’s really important that we don’t just anthropomorphize cows based on our human experience, but we do know that they can experience negative emotions like pain and fear that we want to minimize,” said Jennifer Van Os, an animal welfare scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “On the flip side, they can have positive experiences like pleasure, reward and contentment that we want to try to promote.”

Consumer Demand For Butter, Other Dairy Products Remain Strong During Pandemic

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: “Pandemic cooking is a real thing,” said Mark Stephenson, head of dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Restaurants have used a lot of butter, but we’re seeing greater sales even going through retail now than we did the sum of retail and restaurants before that.”

25 Reasons to Support Civil Eats on #GivingTuesday

Civil Eats

25. Grassland 2.0 Aims to Replace Soy and Corn Farming with Perennial Pasture in the Upper MidwestThe University of Wisconsin-Madison project will help farmers transition to pasture-based systems to protect the environment and boost rural livelihoods while meeting demand for grassfed meat and dairy.

UW-Madison has a new cutting edge home for sausage, bacon, steak and innovation

Wisconsin State Journal

No longer sequestered in an aging building in a space that was about equal to a garage with a few chest freezers, Bucky’s Varsity Meats, formally Bucky’s Butchery, has a shiny new home with a glistening meat counter, several glass doors for refrigerated and frozen products and bunkers filled with hot dogs, snack sticks and tubes of summer sausage.

Wisconsin Corn Growers Expected To Bring In Record Yields

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Joe Lauer, an agronomy professor for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said farmers were grateful for more normal weather patterns this year after an extremely wet season in 2019.

“There’s a little more peace of mind, if you will, in kind of going through what I just call an average normal production season,” Lauer said. “We’re going to end up with record yields but it’s just kind of easier psychologically to take.”

Shawn Conley, soybean and wheat specialist for UW-Madison’s Division of Extension, said a lack of precipitation throughout the state at the end of summer caused the USDA to lower their forecasted yields to 53 bushels per acre. That’s six bushels, or almost 13 percent, higher than last year.

But Conley said most farmers were happy to have the dry weather.

“That allowed farmers to have a lot of days in the field that they can push through and get their crops out of the field in a timely manner,” Conley said.

Grassland 2.0 Aims to Replace Soy and Corn Farming with Perennial Pasture in the Upper Midwest

Civil Eats

“We’re shedding farms,” Randy Jackson remarks grimly one autumn day over video conference. A professor of grassland ecology in the department of agronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jackson points to the fact that a record 10 percent of dairy farms in his state of Wisconsin shuttered in 2019, another milestone for a local economy that led the nation in farm bankruptcies last year.

Vicious Cycle: Climate Change Spreading Infectious Diseases, Which Contribute to Climate Change

Sci Tech Daily

“The vicious cycle between climate impacts on disease and disease impacts on climate is striking,” said co-author Aimée Classen, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of the University of Michigan Biological Station. “Our study highlights that scientists need to incorporate both animals and disease into the experiments and models used to predict future carbon emissions.

In addition to Ezenwa, Koltz, Deem and Classen, the study’s co-authors are David J. Civitello and Matthew Malishev of Emory University; Brandon T. Barton and Zoë E. Johnson of Mississippi State University; Daniel J. Becker of Indiana University; Maris Brenn-White of the Saint Louis Zoo; Susan Kutz of the University of Calgary; Rachel M. Penczykowski of Washington University; Daniel L. Preston of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and J. Trevor Vannatta of Purdue University.