Ag Chat with Kristin Smith - Dec. 15th

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- It's been a miserable few years for Florida's orange crop. And now to add insult to injury, California is gearing up to steal the sunshine's state crown as the king of U.S. citrus production. After a decade of devastating orange crops, Hurricane Irma smashed into groves this year, inflicting yet another blow to the crop. Farmers in the state are set to collect 46 million boxes of the fruit this season, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That would be the smallest since 1945 and would match California's harvest. Michael Sparks, chief executive officer for Florida Citrus Mutual, the state's largest grower group, expects the situation for the crop "to get worse before it gets better." If that's the case, then California will end up with the bigger crop, it would be the first time in 73 years the state would best Florida. Most of the oranges grown in California are used for the fresh fruit market, while Florida's fruit is generally used to make fresh juice.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has predicted that the North American Free Trade Agreement will be renegotiated, saying that President Donald Trump's threats to withdraw from the trade deal are part of the negotiating style of a strong leader. Perdue said he is confident that President Trump wants an agreement between Canada and Mexico and NAFTA that benefits the American people and benefits American producers. He also said he believes NAFTA renegotiations will produce an updated trade agreement that Trump can back.

Cooperatives Working Together has accepted 22 requests for export assistance from four cooperatives. These cooperatives have contracts to sell almost 3 million pounds of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, and just shy of 441,000 pounds of butter to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East, North Africa and Oceania. This brings the total CWT-assisted member cooperative 2017 export sales to 70.271 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 5.246 million pounds of butter to 21 countries on five continents.

The 2018 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair will be crowned during the 52nd Wisconsin Association of Fairs' annual convention in Wisconsin Dells next month. Program coordinators say 38 students will compete for the title, in which the winner will travel the state next year as the ambassador and spokesperson for all the fairs of Wisconsin. The competition is being held January 7-10 at the Chula Vista Resort. According to the Wisconsin Ag Connection, the contestants will participate in several rigorous interviews and impromptu question and answer sessions throughout the three-day competition. A few of the young ladies from our area are: Barron County Fair, Katie Bates; Central WI State Fair, Alysha Bauer; Clark County Fair, Krista Rueth; Dunn County Fair, Lexi Grossbier; Lodi Ag Fair, Kelli Yelk; Northern WI State Fair, Julia Nunes; Polk County Fair, Sarah Carufel; St. Croix County Fair, Kaitlin Konder; and WI Valley Fair, Katelyn Schmoll. The winning contestant will replace outgoing Fairest of the Fair Rebecca Starkenburg from the Lodi Agricultural Fair in Columbia County.

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