Ag Chat with Bob Bosold - March 5th

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Cheese production across Wisconsin and the rest of the country was down in January when compared to December output but was up slightly from a year ago. Total cheese production in Wisconsin was just under 284 million pounds-about 6 million less than in December. Nationally production was just under 1.1 billion pounds in January-down about 11 million pounds from December. Production was down slightly last month for all major cheese varieties.

That Thursday meeting last week at the White House on renewable fuels resulted in both sides saying they need to talk more. Corn industry representatives at the meeting told the press following the session that it went well for the renewable fuels industry and that they think President Trump now has a better understanding of the issue. Oil industry representatives, including Texas senator Ted Cruz, want to lower the Renewable Fuels Standard's blend levels for ethanol but industry officials don't think that will happen. They said Cruz is just looking for more subsidies for the oil industry. The President reportedly wants another meeting on the topic later this week.

There is a lot of opposition to the president's plan to impose higher tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Even though the plan hasn't been put in place yet, Mr. Trump made his decision without the support of his cabinet or a lot of other people around the country. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker said it's a bad idea because it could cost this country a lot of jobs as companies will close and move operations to countries like Canada, which is one of the countries that would be most affected by the new tariffs. Agricultural officials are worried because farm products are always the first to face retaliation for such moves and as one farm leader said, "Mr. Trump is doing for steel and aluminum what he is accusing Canada of doing to protect its dairy industry.

For farmers who want to grow industrial hemp in Wisconsin, it's time to get your growing license. The Department of Agriculture, Trade and consumer protection is now accepting applications through May 1st. Wisconsin's new rule to grow hemp took effect last Friday and is designed after the rules in many of the other 31 states that allow farmers to grow hemp. The rule says both growers and processors must pass a background check to show that they don't have any state or federal drug convictions. Growers will have to pay a one-time fee between 150 and 1,000 dollars depending on how many acres they intend to plant. Processors will also need a one-time license, but that will be at no cost. Also, both growers and processors will have to register with DATCP every year to remain in the growing and processing program with growers paying a $350 annual fee and processors paying a $100 yearly fee.

For the first time in over a decade a farmer will serve as a member of the University of Wisconsin's Board of Regents. Last week, Governor Walker appointed Grantsburg dairy farmer Cris Peterson. Besides farming, Peterson has written a number of nationally know children's books.

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