Ag Chat with Kristin Smith - Feb 2nd

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Farmers received $14.00 per hundredweight for their Class III milk in January according to the USDA. That's down $1.44 from December's price and $2.77 less than last January. For 2017, the Class III price averaged $16.17. That compares with $14.87 during the previous year.

And the USDA also released some average commodity prices for farmers in Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Ag Connection, the December corn price was at $3.13 a bushel which was up a penny from November, but down 2 cents from last December. Soybeans averaged $9.43 per bushel, up three-cents for the month, but down six-cents for the year. Oat prices came in at $2.59 per bushel which was down 40 cents from November, but 67 cents above December 2016. All hay prices in Wisconsin averaged $120.00 per ton, down $11.00 from the previous month, but $31.00 more than last year. The alfalfa hay price averaged $127.00 per ton in December, $11.00 lower than November, but $33.00 more than from the previous December. The other hay price came in at $94.00, down $9.00 from November, but $27.00 more than December 2016.

Wisconsin will be losing a cheese plant. Saputo Cheese USA Inc. will close the doors of one of its factories in Fond du Lac no later than June 1, according to state officials. According to a statement issued by the company in November 2017, employees will receive severance pay and some will get a chance to work at other Saputo facilities. Back in 2009, Saputo closed another facility in Fond du Lac, eliminating 39 positions. And in 2014, Saputo closed a New London plant, affecting 180 employees. At the time, the company was operating eight plants in Wisconsin and cited efficiency reasons for the closing. Saputo still owns multiple locations in Wisconsin.

The Environmental Protection Agency's announced Wednesday that it would delay the date of the Waters of the U.S. rule for two years while the agency permanently reconsiders the Obama-era regulation. That decision won praise from Iowa Senator Charles Grassley who says the Waters rule and drafting process were flawed from the start and that the Obama administration ignored serious concerns about the damage the rule could have caused. American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says the rule would have put a stranglehold on ordinary farming and ranching by treating dry ditches, swales and low spots on farm fields just like flowing waters. The agency will now craft a new version of WOTUS, which is expected to include much looser regulatory requirements.

And today is Day 2 of the Corn/Soy Expo at the Kalahari Resorts in Wisconsin Dells, but it's also Day 1 of the Wisconsin Farmers Union 87th Annual State Convention which is being held at the Chula Vista Resort in the Dells and will go thru Sunday. The General Sessions will take place today, workshops tomorrow and policy discussion on Sunday.

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