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ASHLAND, Wis. – We all know life is unpredictable. Sometimes it’s downright difficult. What we do during and after the difficult patches is a reflection of the soul, the spirit. Some folks give up. Others have a spirit that is indomitable; those souls find a way to move forward and make the world better. They find meaning in life – and they work hard at it.

After rains and wet fields stretched planting season from April through early July, summer brought some areas of locally heavy rains, but farmers and agronomists say the crop still has a lot of potential.

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BARABOO, Wis. – Aron and Laura McReynolds and their family five years ago opened New Life Lavender and Cherry Farm near Baraboo. In every one of those years – in addition to three years prior to opening New Life – they’ve added a new feature to their 40-acre farm. Those features, which represent a lot of creativity and hard work, bring the family a sense of accomplishment. And those features – combined with more than 14,000 lavender plants – attract throngs of visitors from June through October each year.

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OPINION  The United Food and Commercial Workers, the union for 250,000 meatpacking and food-processing workers, is applauding the introduction of the Farm System Reform Act, introduced in Congress this week by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, and U.S. Rep. Rohit Khanna, D-17-California. Joining the union in supporting the legislation is Family Farm Action, a national advocacy group, calling the bill an important step to empower America’s workers and farmers while transforming the power, policy and financial structures that underpin the U.S. meat- and dairy-production systems.

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MOUNT HOREB, Wis. – Wisconsin Women in Conservation’s conservation educators met July 14 for a "happy hour" and networking event at Brix Cider in Mount Horeb. The group brings together women landowners to connect and learn about conservation practices, resources and funding opportunities.

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a series featuring women who are serving as conservation coaches for Wisconsin Women in Conservation. 

Recent advancements in technology have made their way into precision agriculture, with emphasis placed on using new technologies to increase crop yields and profitability, while simultaneously lowering levels of inputs needed like water, fertilizer and herbicides. Although widely used in row-crop production, precision agriculture is only just beginning to move into the ranching world.

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Growing resistance to commonly used antibiotics is one of the biggest threats the world faces. As common bacteria such as strep and salmonella become resistant to medications, what once were easily treatable infections can now pose difficult medical challenges. New research from the University of Georgia shows there may be more antimicrobial-resistant salmonella in food animals than scientists previously thought.

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Recently I was fortunate to be “behind the scenes” as a guest while I listened to Tenzin Botsford tell the story of how he and his wife, Stacey, came to be owners of Red Door Farm near Athens, Wisconsin. Botsford’s talk was part of the Marathon County Historical Society’s oral-history project.

Sales of sexed dairy semen in the United Kingdom have doubled in the past two years, according to a recent Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board survey of breeding companies. In the 12 months leading to March 2021 sales of sexed semen represented 63.5 percent of all dairy semen sales. That’s an increase from 31.9 percent in 2019. The increase reflects sharp growth since 2017 when sales were just 17.9 percent, the United Kingdom board reported.

Kevin Whalen recently was hired to serve as the coordinator for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s District 4. It is comprised of Buffalo, Eau Claire, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe and Trempealeau counties.

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a series featuring women who are serving as conservation coaches for Wisconsin Women in Conservation. The Wisconsin collaborative effort is led by the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in partnership with the Wisconsin Farmers Union and Renewing the Countryside, as well as the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. The group brings together women landowners to connect and learn about conservation practices, resources and funding opportunities.

Ag economists continue to watch the trends in cow slaughter and what it could mean for markets. David Anderson, professor and Extension economist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, wrote in his “In the Cattle Markets” column for the Livestock Marketing Information Center that the industry continues to see large cattle slaughter numbers. However, prices have still managed to run ahead of the year before.

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The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Market Intel is publishing a two-part series to highlight the agricultural losses that occurred in 2020 due to weather disasters. This Market Intel article, the first in the series, looks at the measurable production losses that occurred in 2020. The second article in the series will discuss the gaps and challenges in previous disaster-aid legislation that leave producers unsupported when disaster strikes.

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OPINION  The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition applauds the U.S. Department of Agriculture announcement of $500 million in additional funding to bolster small- and medium-scale meat-processing plants, and additional actions to level the playing field for farmers and ranchers.

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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – Increasing competition in meat and poultry processing is the goal of an executive order recently signed by President Joe Biden. Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary, shared the news about the executive order July 9 while at the Rustic Cuts Butcher Shop in Council Bluffs.

"Plant-Based Meat 2021-2031" is a new market-research and business-intelligence report published by IDTechEx. The report explores the technical and industry factors shaping the emerging plant-based meat market.

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I have a theory I can’t prove. The further mankind removes him- or herself from our agrarian past and the work it involved in close proximity with nature, the more stressed we become. More research is proving the importance of nature and the positive effects it has on our mental and physical well-being. Nature is restorative to humans.

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Using his words, Iowa’s Republican U.S. senators are holding President Joe Biden accountable for his earlier commitments to support the biofuel industry and the family farmers who rely on it.

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WOODMAN, Wis. – It isn’t quite a ghost town yet, but the main character that made Woodman famous and prosperous is a ghost of the past. The small burg was the home of the longest-running narrow-gauge railroad, affectionately called “the Dinky.”

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The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research recently awarded a $10-million grant in support of the Net Zero Initiative. The initiative is an on-farm pathway to advance the industrywide 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals set through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. The funding will support a six-year project – “Dairy Soil & Water Regeneration: building soil health to reduce greenhouse gases, improve water quality and enable new economic benefits.”

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Adam Abel recently was named state grazing-lands specialist in Wisconsin by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. His new post comes at a time when demand for grazing information is outpacing the number of people who can write managed-grazing plans, he said. Grazing is becoming more popular for many reasons.

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Kate Creutzinger, Grace Lewis and Luis Peña-Lévano recently were hired as faculty members by the University of Wisconsin-River Falls’ College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. Those first tenure-track faculty positions on campus have been funded by the Dairy Innovation Hub. The positions are 60 percent research and outreach and 40 percent teaching.

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The dry period is an important time to incorporate prevention points that guard cow health and the health of their offspring against scours. Scours accounts for one-half of all deaths of pre-weaned calves. Of those calves, 74 percent are treated with antibiotics. But the cost of scours goes beyond loss of life and cost of treatment – it also can have a negative effect on milk production in the first lactation.

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OPINION  Our recently vaccinated family hit the highways and waterways in a major way this Past month. Thanks to public investment we have highways and interstates that cross the entire country; I can zip off to visit family in Wyoming or Michigan relatively easily. I can make my way down the Mississippi River facilitated by an important lock and dam system that also allows commerce to flow. American investment in infrastructure is often taken for granted, but having lived and traveled in lesser-developed nations with poor roads, airports and sometimes completely dysfunctional food systems, I can say we have it good.

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BOSCOBEL, Wis. – Udder Brothers’ Creamery is a creative name for an ice-cream shop owned by twin brothers and dairy farmers Jason and Justin Sparrgrove. Creativity and a spirit of entrepreneurship count in launching a new business, said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.