Agri Leader

Ag News in brief

2013 Ag Woman of the Year recognized

TAMPA - At the Woman of the Year in Agriculture luncheon held Feb. 10 at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam recognized Lynetta Griner as the 2013 Woman of the Year in Agriculture. The award, now in its 29th year, recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to Florida agriculture.

"Lynetta Griner's lifelong dedication to agriculture has impacted a generation - women and men alike - who look to her for leadership and as an example of agricultural promotion, stewardship and best practices," said Putnam. "Candidates who are considered for the Woman of the Year in Agriculture Award must have made outstanding contributions to Florida agriculture. The phrase 'outstanding contributions' certainly describes Lynetta Usher Griner."

Griner and her husband, Ken, own and operate Usher Land and Timber, Inc., in Levy County. A timber and cattle operation, their company was selected as the Logger of the Year on both the state and national level. They have also received awards for their dedication to environmental stewardship and wildlife conservation.

Griner is the current president of the Florida Forestry Association, the first female elected to that position in the association's 91-year history. In this role, Griner advocates for Florida's nearly $14 billion forestry industry and promotes the responsible and sustainable use of the state's forests.

Maine closing area to crab, lobster harvests

AUGUSTA, Maine - The state Department of Marine Resources is closing a small area at the mouth of the Penobscot River to the harvesting of crabs and lobsters for at least two years as a precautionary measure over concerns about possible mercury contamination.

The closure, which took effect Saturday, involves about 7 square miles. It applies to commercial and recreational fishermen.

Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in a news release Tuesday that the closure comes in response to information received in November about mercury contamination in muscle tissue from lobsters found in the area.

He says officials will conduct seasonal monitoring of mercury levels and decide after two years whether to reopen the area.

Ohio fruit growers wait to assess damage

MANSFIELD, Ohio - Ohio fruit growers are holding onto hope that this snowy, often brutally cold winter hasn't ruined their crops.

The president of the Ohio Fruit Growers Marketing Association, Bill Dodd, told the Mansfield News Journal that growers are sure there's been damage and can only wait for spring to determine the extent of it.

Growers used microscopes to analyze sample cuttings from their crops at a meeting last week, and very few of the plants appeared to still be alive.

Dave Riedel of Galion says farmers must wait to see whether the deep freezes have zapped just the crops or the plants themselves.

Wis. dairy farmers enjoying price boom

MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin's dairy farmers are getting nearly record-high prices for their milk, thanks to soaring demand, higher dairy exports and a smaller supply.

Milk production is down in part because dairy farmers culled their herds in recent years to weather the economic downturn. But now demand is up and, with prices dropping for the corn they feed their cows, dairy farmers should see healthy profits through this year, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

"This is the dairy farmers' year to enjoy," said Mark Stephenson, the director of the Center for Dairy Profitability at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dairy farmers are looking to squeeze every possible drop of milk from their cows, in part because demand for Wisconsin cheese is up domestically and abroad.

Cheese producers already take whatever they can get from Wisconsin dairy producers but now they have to import 15 percent of their milk from other states, said John Umhoefer, the executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.

Wisconsin's specialty cheese producers played a big role in the growth of U.S. cheese exports. Jen Pino-Gallagher, a spokesman for the state's agriculture department, said state cheese exports for the first nine months of 2013 grew 23 percent compared with the same period in 2012, to $128 million.