Ag Briefs

AURI presents its second New Uses Innovation Forum, April 11-12

Following its successful 2017 inaugural New Uses Forum that drew over 150 agricultural professionals, entrepreneurs and news media, the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) has announced its second “New Uses Forum,” to be April 11 and 12 at the Minneapolis West Crowne Plaza Hotel in Plymouth.

The event will highlight several innovative contributions, with a focus on science and technology applications to foster long-term economic impact for Minnesota by helping businesses develop new, value-added uses for agricultural products in four focus areas: biobased products, renewable energy, coproducts and food.

Themed “Adding Value at the Speed of Innovation,” AURI Executive Director Shannon Schlecht anticipates provoking, informative presentations and a great opportunity to learn and exchange ideas.

“Last year’s first New Uses Forum was a resounding success,” he said. “We’re building on that base to create an even better event this year. Participants are sure to leave with a greater awareness of resources and opportunities available, as well as be energized to move forward with new and innovative utilization ideas.”

Keynote speakers will provide insight around trends in value-added agriculture. Additionally, panel presentations will provide in-depth perspectives around opportunity areas, including:

• Biobased innovation. Explore the latest trends in identifying biobased alternatives for petroleum-based materials.

• Coproducts innovation. Investigate recent and future innovations regarding new uses for ag-based waste streams and residues.

• Hemp innovation. Bring together experts from Minnesota, Canada and the region to discuss its many applications of hemp, from protein to energy.

• Nexus of food and health. Discuss how innovative food products can intersect the diet and health intersection.

The Forum will also highlight a handful of Minnesota’s agricultural entrepreneurs with an opportunity for some of the state’s most innovative new-uses and value-added entrepreneurs to share their experiences.

“There will be great Q&A opportunities during the panel discussions,” Schlecht said. “And we learned last year that participants especially appreciated the opportunity to take advantage of the great networking opportunities this event presents. But, above all, this is an event to bring people together under the common goal of encouraging new growth and innovation here in the Upper Midwest.”

Admission to the New Uses Forum is $75, with discounts available for students and government representatives. Participants must register at

Small, midsize farms decreasing in Nebraska

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture said small and midsize farms across Nebraska have lost much of their land and revenue to bigger operations over the past two decades.

The Omaha World-Herald reported that many of these farms have been caught between falling prices and rising costs. As a result, the number of smaller farms in the state has decreased while the number of larger farms has risen.

Farms with more than $500,000 in annual sales more than tripled between 1997 and 2012. But farms with revenue between $100,000 and $499,999 decreased 20 percent.

Jay Rempe is a senior economist at Nebraska Farm Bureau. He said farm consolidation means there are more efficient and productive farms, which give consumers a variety of low priced food options.

Louisiana farmer leads cotton export effort

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — A Louisiana farmer has been elected to head the export marketing and promotion arm of the National Cotton Council.

Ted Schneider will head Cotton Council International, the Shreveport Times reported.

Schneider is an LSU graduate who farms about 3,600 acres from his Lake Providence headquarters including cotton.

He said 20 ago the United States used 80 percent of its cotton domestically but now that 80 percent is exported.

Most of those customers are in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Turkey and China.

“It’s absolutely critical that our customers abroad continue to rely on and trust our ability to deliver the highest quality cotton at a competitive price in a timely manner,” he said.

Cotton used to be a dominant crop in Louisiana and the Deep South. Just a decade ago, 800,000 acres of cotton were planted in Louisiana. That dropped to 115,000 acres in 2015. But the crop staged a modest comeback in 2017 with Louisiana farmers planting 200,000 acres of cotton.

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said Schneider’s appointment gives the state a larger voice on the national and world stage.

Bovine tuberculosis found on 2nd southwestern Michigan farm

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State officials say they’ve discovered a second cattle herd in southwestern Michigan infected with bovine tuberculosis.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced last week the potentially fatal disease had shown up on a farm in Ottawa County. On Tuesday, the department said the sick cattle had also spent time at a farm in Kalamazoo County, where an investigation found two other infected cows.

The original carriers of the illness came from Franklin County, Indiana, where two beef herds and a whitetail deer tested positive in 2016.

Acting Assistant State Veterinarian Jarold Goodrich said officials will try to identify any other farms that may be affected.

A three-mile surveillance area has been established around the Kalamazoo County farm. Cattle in the area must be tested within six months.

Arkansas hog farm ordered to remove manure in watershed

HARRISON, Ark. (AP) — The owners of a hog farm in the Buffalo National River watershed in northern Arkansas are being ordered to clean up manure and develop a plan to manage the waste, but not to sell their hogs.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Monday that a judge is giving Sanders Farm near Western Grove until March 15 to comply with the order.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality had sought to order the farm to clean up the manure and sell its pigs because manure was washing into a creek that empties into the Buffalo National River.

The newspaper reports the department did not respond to a request for comment.

Farm owners Pat and Starlinda Sanders said problems began last year when they couldn’t sell their pigs because they were sick, and the number of hogs grew from 2,400 to 3,300.

Wisconsin tweaks dairy insurance program

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin lawmakers have tweaked a federal price insurance program following criticism from dairy farmers.

The Margin Protection Program for Dairy allows farmers to buy insurance that pays out when the cost to produce milk becomes too close to milk’s selling price, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

But Wisconsin dairy farmers said the program doesn’t fully account for feed, supplements and transportation costs.

“It’s not a true reflection of costs,” said Tom Jandt, a dairy farmer from Barre Mills who said he’s yet to receive any benefits from the program.

Farmer Ken Wunderlin spent about $10,000 a year for coverage in 2015 and 2016, but has only received about $5,000 in payouts from the program.

More than 6,500 dairy farmers signed up for the program in its first year, with most buying coverage for when production margins fall below $6.50. But participation fell to less than 5,300 last year, with 90 percent of farmers buying coverage in the lowest tier, for when margins fell below $4.

“It didn’t do the job of risk management they hoped it would,” said U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Baldwin introduced changes to the program that would lower the cost of premiums for small- and medium-sized producers. Farmers are now also allowed to participate in other risk management programs.

“We are extremely pleased with the changes that were made,” said Karen Gefvert, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s director of governmental relations.

But while some farmers believe the changes will help, they don’t view the program as a solution to the industry’s problems.

“It doesn’t really fix the situation,” Wunderlin said. “We’ve got too much milk.”

Runaway cow defends its freedom in Poland

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A local governor in Poland says a cow that escaped while being taken to a slaughterhouse is still avoiding capture even though the order to kill it has been canceled.

The red Limousin beef cow that fled last month has gained celebrity status as it defends its life and freedom, roaming a lake-filled region near Nysa, in the southwest of the country.

Governor Czeslaw Bilobran said Wednesday the cow is “cunning and clever and uses the difficult terrain to trick the search group,” swimming from island to island.

When caught, it will be put in a local animal reserve.

“It is so brave and strong-headed that we decided to keep it,” Bilobran told The Associated Press.