Ag Chat with Kristin Smith - Feb 3rd

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Wisconsin's dairy farmers are still producing more milk which is leading to higher cheese production. In December Wisconsin produced 288.6 million pounds of cheese which was 2.6 percent higher than December of 2016 and 3.9 percent more than in November. Compared to last year, American cheese produced in the state was 6.4 percent more than last year at 89 million pounds. Cheddar was up 7 percent from 2016 to 62.8 million pounds. Italian cheese produced was at a 1.3 percent increase to 146.5 million pounds while Mozzarella was 4.4 percent higher than in December of 2016. Nationally, about 1.09 billion pounds of cheese was produced in the U.S. which was an increase of 2.6 percent from the same month last year, and 2.4 percent above the previous month's production totals.

The Wisconsin Pork Association recently recognized producers and industry members for their dedicated service at the 2018 Pork and Corn/Soy Expo, last week in Wisconsin Dells. Each year, WPA presents the Distinguished Public Service Award, which recognizes a legislator who provides outstanding support to the pork industry. Wisconsin's Agriculture Secretary Shelia Harsdorf was presented the award for her efforts on behalf of Wisconsin agriculture in her tenure as a member of the Wisconsin State Legislature. Harsdorf has been a great leader for Wisconsin farmers in the legislature since she was first elected to the Assembly in 1988. During this time, she was an advocate for Wisconsin farmers as a member of numerous committees, including the Joint Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism.

The Minnesota Vikings may not have been in the Superbowl but one player is celebrating along with a California farmer. Last Thursday, Land O' Lakes hosted a farm bowl where a past or current NFL player paired up with a Land O' Lakes farmer to compete in four primary events, including the Tractor Tire Change, Milk Pipe Puzzle, Drone Drop and Hay Bale Backup. The two best times advanced to the final round. Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs and JJ Nunes, a farmer from California, captured the Land O'Lakes Farm Bowl trophy. Diggs and Nunes edged former professional offensive lineman Jason Brown and farmer Dave Ribeiro in the championship challenge - The Big Feed Run - to win the event.

Six total teams took to the course in the Land O'Lakes Farm Bowl, including: Former center, current farmer Jason Brown and Dave Ribeiro in California, former wide receiver Greg Jennings and Amber Horn-Leiterman in Brillion, Wisconsin, All Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly and Craig Roerick of Minnesota, Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis and Katie Dotterer-Pyle of Maryland and Minnesota Vikings' tight end Kyle Rudolph and Darin Johnson of Minnesota. The trophy looks similar to the Lombardi trophy, except it has a tractor instead of a football on top.

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