November 30, 2015

Menominee file federal lawsuit over federal hemp crop raid

A lawsuit has been filed by the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin against two federal agencies over the tribe’s hemp growing operation. Federal drug agents raided a field on the tribe’s reservation near Suring last month. Tribal officials say the raid destroyed industrial hemp plants. The Drug Enforcement Agency contends that they seized 30,000 high-grade marijuana plants. DEA and Department of Justice agents participated in the October 23rd operation.

According to the lawsuit, tribal officials argue the 2014 federal farm bill gives them the right to grow hemp, which can be used to make products such as textiles, foods, paper, body care products and building materials. Hemp grown for industrial use generally has too little THC – the psychoactive component of marijuana – to be used as an illicit drug.

“The Menominee Tribe, in cooperation with the College of Menominee Nation, should have the right under the Farm Bill to cultivate industrial hemp in the same manner as Kentucky, Colorado, and other states,” tribal chairman Gary Besaw said in a statement. “These and other states cultivate industrial hemp without threats or interference from the United States government.”

CWD prompts destruction of Eau Claire County whitetail herd

Whitetail deer (File photo: Jackie Johnson)

Whitetail deer (File photo: Jackie Johnson)

A commercial herd of 228 whitetail deer in Eau Claire County had to be destroyed this week, after a seven-year-old doe on the farm tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

The state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection said the first positive test came back in June, while two additional deer tested positive in September and October.

State and federal officials began the process of depopulating the 163 adults and 65 fawns on Monday, and wrapped up work Wednesday afternoon. The animals were euthanized using a combination of injectable euthanasia and sharpshooting.

DATCP said preliminary tests done on animals destroyed during the first two days showed an additional 23 deer were positive for CWD. The number could rise, with more tests still pending.

Wood County will host 2018 Farm Technology Days

File photo: Farm Technology Days

File photo: Farm Technology Days

The state’s largest annual farm show will return to the Marshfield area in three years.

Officials with Farm Technology Days announced Thursday that the Daryl and Brenda Sternweis family will host the 2018 edition of the show, along with the neighboring Heiman family which owns Nasonville Dairy. The Sternweis farm recently added robotic milking, the type of technology the show always features.

It’s the first time since 1960 that Wood County will host the three day event, which draws visitors from around the world.

The 2018 Farm Technology Days will take place July 10-12. Walworth County is the host of the show next year, and Kewaunee County in 2017.


Egg shortage leads to higher grocery prices

File photo: DACTP

File photo: DACTP

Months after the last case was reported, the effects of avian influenza continue to be felt in Wisconsin.

Grocery prices in the state are up 2.7 percent from a year ago, according to a report from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. The organization said a main reason for that is a shortage of eggs, which is the result of numerous farms having to destroy their chickens after the flu virus was detected in the spring.

The prices of a dozen eggs jumped 72 percent, climbing to almost $3. Overall, the Federation’s Market Basket survey of 16 common food items in 26 cities was up $1.41, to $53.37. The total cost in Wisconsin is about 1.4 percent below the Farm Bureau’s national survey.


Farmers urged to check for treated seed

File photo: Learfield

File photo: Learfield

State agriculture officials are reminding farmers to take another look at their equipment this fall to make sure treated seeds stay out of their harvest.

Seeds treated with pesticide or fungicide are specifically designed to be planted in the spring and are very brightly colored to make sure they can’t be confused with regular grains or vegetables. Federal law requires they stay out of the food supply, and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection spokeswoman Donna Gilson says there is a zero tolerance policy. “If as the load is being dumped into a storage bin and you see the treated seeds, that entire bin gets condemned. And again, the farmer can be held liable for that and that can certainly be enough to bankrupt someone.”

Gilson says the best practices on farms should be keeping that seed as far as possible from your harvest. “If you have any unused treated seed around, check with the supplier to see if you can return left over seeds, or dispose of any unused seeds. If you have to store it, keep it separate from all your grains.”

Gilson says farmers should check equipment carefully before heading out to harvest. “They should use a pressure washer, and clean out all the equipment they used for treated seeds. That includes gravity boxes, trucks, wagons. Visually inspect them and look for any of those bright colored seeds.”

Gilson says farmers should also make sure to go over any equipment they may be borrowing.