Ag Chat with Scott Schultz- November 25

ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Wisconsin farm workers are being paid an average of $15.64 per hour, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture farm labor report. The report, which is based on a farm survey the week of Oct. 6-12, also said hired farm employees worked an average of 41 hours per work. It added that employees listed as livestock workers - people tending livestock, milking cows, caring for poultry or operating livestock-farms' machinery - averaged $14.68 per hour. Workers dealing only with field-crop work were paid an average of $15.57 an hour. The report said farmers in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota had about 66,000 employees during the survey period. Nationally, the all-farm average wage was $15.02 per hour, with livestock workers receiving $13.77 per hour and field-crop workers receiving $13.77 per hour.

The ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that would revise the North American Free Trade Agreement still might not happen before the end of the year. The agreement is waiting for approval in the U.S. House of Representatives, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi having recently said the approval was imminent. But last week ended without an agreement having been reached between White House and House negotiators on five points involving issues such as Mexican enforcement of worker and environmental protections. Negotiators said agreements had been reached on about half of those points. Despite the delay and heavy speculation that the ratification might not happen this year, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and House Ways and Means Committee representatives will continue negotiations this week. Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Hill, a Massachusetts Democrat, said he remains hopeful that the ratification will happen this year.

With Wisconsin's nine-day gun deer under way, the state Department of Natural Resources has announced the discovery of a new case of chronic wasting disease in a deer harvested in Dunn County. DNR officials said in a Friday press release that an adult buck harvested during the archery season tested positive for the disease. It was harvested about 18 miles out of the Chippewa Valley CWD surveillance area, and is the first to test positive in Dunn County. Five deer previously had positive tests in Eau Claire County in 2018 and 2019. DNR officials have urged people to voluntarily submit harvested deer-heads for CWD testing.