• Fran O

    Now is the Time to Pass Immigration Reform

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on April 18, 2014

    Estimates vary, but roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants work in the United States along with an additional 4.5 million children who are U.S.-born citizens. Of these, an estimated 525,000 undocumented workers are employed in agriculture. In Wisconsin, many undocumented workers are employed on large dairy farms and in canning factories. The workers work long hours – often up to 60 hours per week, and are willing to work night shifts and weekends when few others prefer to…

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  • Fran O

    Dairy Provision in New Farm Bill May Prove Costly

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on March 11, 2014

    After four years of hearings, lots of handwringing and closed-door meetings, a new five-year farm bill has finally been signed into law.  How does the new farm bill impact dairy farmers? The farm bill replaces the Milk Income Loss Contract and Dairy Price Support programs with a new Margin Protection Program. National  Milk  Producers  Federation put  together  a  summary  of  the  farm bill  dairy  provisions. The Margin Protection…

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  • Fran O

    Sustainable Farming Saved Wisconsin Agriculture

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on February 4, 2014

    Countless news releases cross my desk every month talking about sustainable farming practices and sustainable agriculture. Sustainability has become quite the buzz word during the past decade. Many people talk about it, but I'm not sure everyone understands what it is. If you look the word up in the dictionary, you will find that sustainable means "able to be maintained." Sustainable agriculture is defined as "exploiting natural resources without destroying the ecological…

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  • Fran O

    Congress Has Earned Its Reputation

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on December 31, 2013

    A Gallup poll was released in early December that asked Americans to rank professions they believe are the most honest and trustworthy. The top profession was nurses with 85% saying they are very honest – 15% above doctors who scored 70%. Not surprisingly at the bottom of the list were members of Congress with 10%. Even bankers, journalists (yes, journalists), business executives, lawyers, stock brokers, and advertisers all ranked higher than members of Congress. The only profession…

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  • Fran O

    It’s Time to Count Our Blessings

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on November 14, 2013

    Thanksgiving is almost here and Christmas is just around the corner. Families and friends everywhere are gathering to share great food and celebrate the good things in each of our lives. It’s also a good time to re?ect back on the year and count our many blessings. That may seem hard in a year plagued by a cold, wet spring and summer drought, but there are still plenty of reasons for Wisconsin farmers to be grateful in 2013. Weather woes Farmers across much of the state battled cold…

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    Government Shutdown, Debt Ceiling Put Farm Bill On The Back Burner

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on October 10, 2013

    The 2013 farm bill inched forward in September and seemed headed for a House-Senate conference committee until the Congressional agenda was hijacked by fights over the budget, threats to defund the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare and raising the national debt ceiling. Little more is likely to happen until those issues are resolved at some point in the near future. At the time this magazine was going to press on Oct. 15, there was no resolution. Before the government shutdown took…

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  • Fran O

    State Fair Was a Record-Breaking Success

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on September 12, 2013

    Ideal weather with mild temperatures, low humidity and very little rain no doubt helped boost attendance at the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair, but diverse ag and educational exhibits, big-name entertainment, great carnival rides and a wide variety of food were the main reasons the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair tied an attendance record that dates back to 1969. More than 1 million people – 1,012,552 to be exact – attended the 11-day fair from Aug. 1-11 in West Allis. That's…

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  • Fran O

    The End Of An Era

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on August 11, 2013

    This summer was a lot like any other for my family with most of July and the first week of August focused on preparing for and attending county fair and state fair. But unlike other years, this was the last county fair and state fair my sons will show at. My twins, Matthew and Nathan, are 19 and will turn 20 in November, so their 4-H and showing careers have come to an end. They began showing registered Holstein dairy calves at the Fond du Lac County Fair in 1998 when they were…

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  • Fran O

    It's Time To Install Central Air

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on July 15, 2013

    My mother always cautioned, "Be careful what you wish for – you might just get it!" I think all of the rain we have received this year is a direct result of too many of us wishing and praying for rain much of last year. I think we must have prayed a little too hard – that's my theory at least. According to Bill Bland, University of Wisconsin Extension soil and water conservation specialist, Wisconsin will get warmer and wetter in years to come, so get used…

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  • Fran O

    The Challenges of Gardening are A Lot Like Farming

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on June 25, 2013

    Flower gardening or vegetable gardening is as much of a challenge this year as trying to plant corn or soybeans and harvest first-crop alfalfa! The cool, wet spring has now given way to a hot, wet summer. With all the rain we have gotten and continue to get, it's hard to keep up with the weeds in both my flowerbeds and my family's vegetable garden. Last year, the problem was a lack of moisture and too much heat. I watered and watered and watered and still I don't think my…

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  • Fran O

    Enthusiasm For FFA At All-Time High

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on June 14, 2013

    If you thought FFA membership was declining due to fewer farms and a lack of support for ag programs at high schools around the state, you would be wrong on both counts. According to Jeff Hicken, state FFA adviser with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, membership hit a 29-year high this year in Wisconsin with 19,000 FFA members. And if you were anywhere near the Alliant Energy Center in Madison June 10-13, you may have noticed a sea of blue and gold jackets. That's…

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  • Fran O

    Health Care Costs Are Out Of Control

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on June 7, 2013

    I just finished signing up for health insurance through my employer. It's a task that I dread every year for a variety of reasons. One, I hate the paperwork involved. This year was worse than most because we had to sign up on the computer and it took much longer to complete than previous years. And two, I have to decide what level of coverage I want for my family and which level of risk I'm willing to assume – do I want to pay more and have better coverage or am I willing…

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  • Fran O

    It's Spring! Get Out And Grow Something

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on May 28, 2013

    I've loved flowers since I can remember. While cut flowers are nice, I admit I get more enjoyment out of watching flowers bloom and grow in a flower bed or flower garden. I'm no expert at flower gardening -- I am learning as I go. In my flower beds, located on the south and east sides of our house, I grow my favorite perennial flowers and plants -- roses, irises, tulips, daffodils, jonquils, peonies, purple cone flowers, black-eyed Susans, mouse-eared coreopsis, hydrangeas, tiger…

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  • Fran O

    Optimism Grows For A 2013 Farm Bill

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on May 20, 2013

    As farmers worked hard to plant corn the middle of May, Congress was able to show some significant progress on the 2013 Farm Bill. On May 14, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved a five-year Farm Bill. The bill would eliminate $5 billion in direct farm payments to farmers. The Senate bill calls for a total of roughly $2.4 billion a year in cuts, while a House version passed May 15 would save $4 billion annually. The Senate Farm Bill: •Eliminates direct payments. Farmers…

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  • Fran O

    Check Alfalfa Fields Now For Winterkill

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on May 3, 2013

    Now that alfalfa is finally beginning to green up after the winter that would not end, many farmers across Wisconsin are discovering that their alfalfa winterkilled or is suffering significant winter injury. Dr. Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin Extension forage agronomist, says he has been getting reports that damage varies from low spots only in fields to major portions of alfalfa fields. Short of plowing up all of your alfalfa fields and starting over, what can be…

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  • Fran O

    Make Mine Milk, Please!

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     by Fran O'Leary
     on April 26, 2013

    I confess there was a time when I drank two, sometimes three cans of Diet Coke per day. In fact, I was addicted to Diet Coke. I could tell because if I went a day without drinking any Diet Coke I would wake up the next morning with a pounding headache. The cure? You guessed it – another Diet Coke. This addiction to Diet Coke went on for 23 years! Finally, in 2005 I managed to kick the habit. Fortunately for me, Diet Coke wasn't the only thing I drank. I have always been a…

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