ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Wisconsin finally has a new Farm Service Agency Director as well as a new leader for the USDA's Rural Development Agency in Wisconsin. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has picked Sandy Chalmers to head the state FSA and Frank Frasetto to lead Rural Development. Chalmers has been the assistant deputy secretary of agriculture in the state for the past 2 years-her second tour of duty at the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection. Frasetto has been in government service for over 30 years, including most recently as the administrator of the agriculture department's Consumer Protection division.
MGN/USDA/CC BY-SA 4.0
Lots of corn got harvested around the country last week. Harvest figures jumped 16% from a week ago as 70% of the corn has now been harvested-14% behind normal progress of the past 5 years. The soybean harvest is only about 2% behind normal progress as farmers now have 90% of the beans combined around the country. This week's Crop Progress report also shows 91% of the winter wheat has been planted and that's slightly ahead of the normal progress for the first part of November.
In Wisconsin, farmers have combined just 37% of their corn for grain-and that's more than 25% behind normal progress. Farmers also reported the average moisture of the corn was at 22% last week and the crop is rated 71% in good to excellent condition. The state soybean harvest is now 86% finished-slightly behind both last year and our 5 year average. State farmers have also planted 96% of their winter wheat and finished 42% of their fall tillage. Topsoil moisture conditions this week are rated 92% adequate to surplus, 7% short and 1% very short-a slight drop from last week.
U.S. agriculture continues to operate in the black when it comes to the import-export picture. For the fiscal year, 2017, the total for U.S. agricultural exports came to $140.47 billion while our ag imports amounted to $119.14 billion, giving us a positive balance of trade in agriculture of $21.33 billion. China, Canada and Mexico are our 3 best customers for agricultural products.
Wisconsin may soon have another symbol. That's because the Assembly voted last week to make ginseng our official state herb. The bill was authored by State Representative John Spiros of Marshfield who said Wisconsin grows the best ginseng in the world and it generates about $20 million a year in gross income for central Wisconsin growers. A similar bill has already passed in the Senate so all it needs now is the governor's signature to officially become one of our official state symbols.
Farmers should start checking their mailboxes for the forms for the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The census is taken every 5 years by the USDA and the National Agricultural Statistics Service. By law, farmers have to fill out the forms and return them by this coming February.