Ag Chat with Scott Schultz- January 22

ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- The petition period has opened for the latest round of agriculture enterprise areas. State Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection officials said interested groups have until June 19 to request the agriculture enterprise area designation. Five owners of contiguous property and their local governments must file a petition jointly. The designation is designed to allow property owners in the areas the chance to claim farmland preservation tax credits and to designate land-use goals for the preservation of agricultural land and water. Wisconsin has 40 agricultural enterprise areas covering about 1.4 million acres in 112 townships, 27 counties and the Bad River Reservation. About 1,500 state farmland owners are part of those areas. Information about the petition is available through the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Picture: MGN

Walmart has entered the meat-processing business with the opening of its new Angus beef-packing plant in Thomasville, Georgia. The plant covers 201,000 square feet, and is operated by FPL foods based in Augusta, Georgia. It also contracts with some of the country's biggest cattle-supply operations. Walmart officials say the vertically integrated system, announced in April, is in response to consumers' demands for clean labeling, traceability and transparency.

U.S. agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue says he's open to changing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's crop-reporting process. Many in the grain markets expressed concern during the past growing season that the Department's National Agricultural Statistics Service missed the mark on some of the crop-size and stocks reporting, creating problems in the grain markets. Perdue said at this week's American Farm Bureau convention that the market might have been untimely more than the USDA missing the mark with June estimates. Much of the estimating problems involved large late-planting and prevented-planted numbers caused by wet weather. Even with that, he said he's open to considering adjustments in the system.

A Sauk City woman has been hired to oversee Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators. Kathy Hartmann-Bruenig will take over the organization's day-to-day operations. She was a long-time board member and former president of the Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association. The Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators is a professional development organization for secondary and post-secondary instructors of agricultural curricula.