As Gov. Tony Evers calls on lawmakers to deal with the state’s dairy crisis, a state agency is hoping to ease some mental stress by helping farmers plan for the future of their farms.
The University of Wisconsin-Extension is hosting a series of workshops called “Cultivating Your Farm Future” across the state in the next couple of months designed to help farmers dealwith the financial future of their farm and possibly relieve some stress that’s led to a greater risk of mental health issues among farmers.
“With the farm stress and the low commodity prices we’ve had in the last five years planning for the future, it’s really hard to do that when you’re just planning for the next day,” said Kaitlyn Lance, an agriculture educator and certified farm succession coordinator for UW-Extension in La Crosse County.
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Wisconsin farmer groups are applauding Gov. Tony Evers’ plans for a special session on the financial crisis facing the state’s farms.
Evers signed an executive order Thursday, calling the Legislature into special session next week to consider a package of bills aimed at helping the dairy industry and farmers across the state.
The proposals create several new grant programs, including one for dairy processing plants, producer education programs and a Small Farm Diversity grant. That program would award up to $50,000 each year to farmers looking to add a new agricultural product to their farm or pay off existing equipment debt for a new product. The grant could also be used to fund start-up costs for new farms.
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“The U.S. Trade Representative’s office told Farm Journal the two-year deal comes with a price tag of China buying $80 worth of agricultural goods over the next two years. That averages out to be $40 billion in 2020 and then another $40 billion in 2021.
“That compared to the current exports, creates a new market, about one third of the size of the entire U.S. every agricultural exports,” said Holly Wang, economist with Purdue University “So, that’s very significant.”
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“The Phase-One Agreement with China will be a game changer for the U.S. beef industry,” said NCBA President Jennifer Houston, who joined President Trump at the White House for today’s event. “For many years, Chinese consumers have been denied access to high-quality U.S. beef—the same U.S. beef we feed to our families. The removal of these massive trade barriers gives Chinese consumers access to the U.S. beef they desire, and it gives America’s cattlemen and cattlewomen the opportunity to provide U.S. beef to a growing consumer-base that represents one-fifth of the global population and a middle-class that is greater than the entire U.S. population.
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The details of the U.S. and China phase one trade deal have not been announced, but a Wisconsin corn grower says it’s the kind of news they’ve been waiting for. Tom Gillis is on the Wisconsin Corn Growers board and serves the U.S. Grains Council. He says, “I think just a deal announced and the agreement that there’s potential on the table, that’s probably good enough to kind of turn the frowns upside down you might say in the eyes of the farmers.”
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Mnuchin told Fox News Channel that the deal reached on Dec. 13 still calls for China to buy $40 billion to $50 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products annually and a total of $200 billion of U.S. goods over two years.
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It can be difficult to justify the cost of technology when commodity prices are low. However, experts say it’s actually the best time to invest.
“When crop prices are low, farmers tend to freeze all spending – even on technology,” says Guillermo Perez-Iturbe, marketing director, Trimble Agriculture. “However, that can be a slippery slope. At the end of the day, farmers need ways to trim costs but not lose out on yield potential. Technology like variable rate can help.”
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“It’s the way we’ve always done it.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that phrase. As a farmer myself, I understand how difficult change can be. The agriculture industry is facing some big challenges right now and trying something new might seem risky. But these disruptive times demand that we change how we work to best defend the profitability potential of our farms. So, how do you make changes with confidence? The answer is sound data, expert advice and state-of-the-art technology.
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