ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Winterkill is a common term in our area when we talk about alfalfa plants surviving some of our cold, open winters. But this week's below zero temperatures and lack of snow cover have already taken out thousands of acres of winter wheat in Colorado, much of Kansas, northern parts of Oklahoma, Central Missouri and southern Illinois. And as the cold moves east growers are concerned more of the crop will be lost in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Also citrus growers in Florida have also reported some frost damage to their crops in the northern part of the state but no evaluation of how much fruit might have been damaged or lost is available yet.
Opioid addiction in this country is a growing problem that many say is getting worse by the day. So the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers' Union are joining forces to deal with the problem. The groups recently conducted a joint survey on the issue and found that 74% of farmers and farm workers said they had a family member or friend directly impacted by opioid addiction. And 75% said it was easy to get opioids even in their small communities. The 2 organizations are now committed to work together to bring more awareness to the problem and to fight for more services to deal with the problem in rural America. And this weekend at the Farm Bureau's annual meeting In Nashville, Farm Bureau President Zippy Duval and Farmers' Union president Roger Johnson will lead a session on dealing with opioids in farm country.
Here in Wisconsin, the Farmers Union is looking for a new Executive Director to succeed Tom Quinn who will retire from that job in March. Quinn has been with the Farmers Union since 2011. They are currently accepting applications for the new ED who will work out of the group's state headquarters in Chippewa Falls.
The Senate is back at work in Washington and some members from Farm states are anxious to get to work on the 2018 farm bill. Iowa senator Charles Grassley, a member of the senate agriculture committee, told reporters the process will be slow but he hopes negotiations can get started by late next month. Committee chair, Pat Roberts of Kansas, has already said he wants to get a bill out of the Senate early this year. But before the Senators can work on a new farm bill they have to deal with that $81 billion disaster bill that passed in the House just before Christmas-a bill that has a lot of implications for agriculture, including dairy.
It's only January but it's time to start looking for our next Alice in Dairyland. The 71st Alice will be chosen at the finals in May in Adams County. Applications for the position are due by February 1st at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Young ladies over 21 years old with an interest in agriculture can apply for the job that pays $45,000 a year and will start on June 4th. One of the new Alice's first appearances is always at Breakfast in the Valley here in Eau Claire.