Business/Policy
August 16, 2017, Sacramento, CA – CDFA will begin accepting applications today from non-profit organizations, California academic institutions and California Resource Conservation Districts that provide technical assistance to grant applicants in the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP).

Applicants may apply for funding ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. They must meet several minimum requirements, including holding at least one technical assistance workshop, reporting on workshop attendance to CDFA, and providing computers and internet access to allow dairy and livestock operators to complete AMMP applications.

Technical assistance will be made available through a partnership between CDFA and the Strategic Growth Council to achieve the mutual objective of providing technical assistance to AMMP applicants. Technical assistance workshops that provide hands-on application assistance are critical to the success of AMMP and the reduction of methane emissions from dairy and livestock operations.

Organizations that wish to receive funding to provide technical assistance must access the "Technical Assistance: Request for Applications" at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/ammp/.

The Request for Applications contains detailed information on eligibility and program requirements. Applications must be submitted by email no later than August 16, 2017, 5:00 p.m. PDT. Grants will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis beginning today.

AMMP is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. The cap-and-trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution.

California Climate Investment projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are made in disadvantaged and low-income communities.

For more information, visit California Climate Investments. This effort is in partnership with the Strategic Growth Council which provides technical and community outreach assistance funds from the California Climate Investments.
Published in Business/Policy
August 16, 2017, Des Moines, IA – The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to eligible livestock producers to assist with manure and nutrient management from their operations.

This article provides updates of interest to producers and technical service providers who may be interested in or are pursuing assistance from NRCS.
  • Open feedlots are an inexpensive but potentially environmentally risky way to operate an animal feeding operation. IA NRCS offers potential incentives to producers to decommission/remove open lots and convert to a roofed, confinement operation. A recently published pamphlet: "Open Feedlot Management – Best Options" offers information regarding open lot to confinement conversion.
  • IA NRCS is in the process of updating the Waste Facility Storage-313 standard. This standard provides technical guidance for planning, design, and installation of agricultural waste containments. Some of the changes include: modification of structural design requirements to account for changes in accepted concrete and timber design, improvements in safety criteria, changing requirement of staff gauge from optional to required, and the addition of criteria specific to solid manure stacking facilities. Specific proposed changes include the removal of the IDNR Open Feedlot Effluent Alternatives for Open Feedlot Operations as an acceptable design alternative to meet NRCS requirements. Also, a minimum design period is being considered for storage facilities to better integrate animal waste systems with current management and cropping systems.
  • A recently published IA Instruction: "Requirements for Subsurface Geologic Investigations for Animal Waste Storage Facilities" provides requirements that apply to technical service providers and other non-NRCS engineers who are providing technical assistance for NRCS programs. Compliance with this instruction will help ensure geologic investigative requirements have been fulfilled as noted in the deliverables of the appropriate conservation practice statement of work.
  • Another instruction of interest for technical service providers for NRCS programs is the "Technical and Financial Assistance for an Animal Feeding Operation and the Associated Land Application of Manure Through a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP)." This document provides guidance for the specific procedures, roles and responsibilities, and administrative and technical checklists to be used when technical service providers are involved in the conservation planning process for animal feeding operations.
For more information regarding NRCS technical and financial assistance visit your local NRCS field office or visit the NRCS website.
Published in State
Livestock producers in California received a crash course in composting earlier this summer.

Nine consecutive days of temperatures above 100 degrees in the Central Valley area of the state resulted in a large jump in cattle deaths. According to an agricultural official in Fresno County, between 4,000 and 6,000 head of livestock died in the month of June due to the heat. Adding to the problem was the temporary shutdown, due to a mechanical problem, of the local rendering plant. As a result, a state of emergency was called in at least three counties and the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP) released an emergency mortality disposal advisory. Under the plan, producers were provided with three options to dispose of mortalities: directly transport the carcasses to an alternate rendering facility or permitted landfill; temporarily store mortalities on farm in compost piles until they could be permanently disposed of; or, as a last resort, bury the carcasses in an emergency landfill on farm, which still required a mountain load of paperwork and possibly thousands of dollars in fees.

According to the five-page advisory, producers were encouraged to put down a waterproof liner and use dairy manure solids as a composting agent, placing each adult carcass on a three foot bed of manure and then covering with a second layer of manure three feet deep. By doing this, farmers could buy themselves an extra six months of time before the carcasses needed to be disposed of permanently off farm.

“Staff will be looking for evidence of bones and carcasses that have been left more than six months,” the advisory warned, adding the number and identity of the animals composted plus documentation they had been properly disposed of would also be required.

While this isn’t the first time California has dealt with large-scale livestock deaths due to heat, it will be interesting to see how the agriculture and landfill industry deals with the added pressure to the carcass disposal system. With the threat of animal disease outbreaks, such as bird flu or foot and mouth disease, always in the background, this negative situation provides an opportunity to test-drive the official response. Heaven forbid it would be required on a state- or nation-wide scale but it’s always prudent to be prepared.

I look forward to any lessons learned which come after the debrief.

Speaking of composting, producers and custom manure applicators can learn more about the management practice and see relevant equipment in action during the North American Manure Expo, taking place in late August at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station near Arlington, Wisc. I consider Expo one of my favorite industry events of the year. What isn’t there to enjoy? Farmers, family, food, friends, farm equipment, information, demonstrations, community: the important things in life.

This Manure-a-palooza takes a year or more of planning to bring to fruition, including hours of committee meetings and conference calls. As a frequent participant in these morning gatherings, I can attest to the time and effort by industry volunteers that goes into preparing for this event. Be sure to check out the event website – manureexpo.org – and consider taking part.


Published in Compost
August 14, 2017, New Richland, MN - Hi-Way 30 Hogs proposes to double its swine facility located about four miles west of New Richland from 2,400 to 4,800 hogs.

Due to the proposed expansion, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is conducting an environmental review and is accepting comments through August 23.

The facility in Section 15 of Byron Township currently has one barn that holds up to 2,400 swine. Keith Schlaak of Hi-Way 30 Hogs proposes to build a second barn and double the size of the rural New Richland operation. READ MORE 
Published in Companies
August 11, 2017, Chicago, IL – AMP Americas – a renewable natural gas (RNG) producer and marketer, plus compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel and infrastructure operator – recently announced a $47 million equity commitment from equity firm EIV Capital.

The equity commitment will allow AMP Americas to pursue growth opportunities across its businesses.

AMP Americas is fueling the transformation of the nation’s heavy-duty trucking sector by providing clean, low cost natural gas and 100 percent renewable natural gas for vehicles. AMP Americas operates three business units – Renewable Dairy Fuels produces 100 percent renewable natural gas at its biogas facility at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana, ampCNG owns and operates a nationwide network of 20 public-access, ultra-fast fill CNG fueling stations, and ampRenew sources RNG for partner CNG stations and ampCNG stations and provides risk management to help fleets and station owners reduce risk and save money. By taking advantage of an abundant domestic fuel source – dairy waste – and converting it into valuable, clean, carbon-negative transportation fuel, AMP Americas is saving fleets money, improving air quality and reducing GHG emissions.

“As an integrated clean energy company with production and distribution assets across the country, we wanted a partner with proven success in both the traditional and renewable energy sectors that could help us scale and execute our aggressive growth plans,” said Grant Zimmerman, CEO at AMP Americas. “EIV Capital has an excellent track record growing energy businesses and will help us as we invest in new biogas production, new fueling stations, and in growing our team.”

“We’re excited to partner with AMP Americas and to support them as they lead the way in CNG and RNG,” said Patti Melcher, managing partner at EIV Capital. “With its history of leadership and innovation, experienced management team and portfolio of high quality assets, AMP Americas is in an excellent position to flourish in this exciting and important market.”
Published in Companies
August 11, 2017, Wexford, Ireland – More than 250 delegates from across Europe and around the world will gather in Wexford next month to discuss a range of scientific research topics with potentially profound importance for the future environmental performance of Irish agriculture.

The biennial Ramiran (Recycling of Agricultural, Municipal and Industrial Residues in Agriculture Network) conference is being hosted by Teagasc and will focus on new cutting-edge strategies and technologies to improve the efficiency of manure and residue management on farms. READ MORE




Published in Other
August 11, 2017, Olympia, WA – The Washington Department of Ecology has asked an appeals board to dismiss claims by the dairy industry that the agency vastly underestimated the cost of complying with new manure-control rules.

A motion filed Aug. 3 with the Pollution Control Hearings Board argues that WDE met its duty to compare costs for small and large dairies. The analysis led WDE to exempt dairies with fewer than 200 cows from the rules, which are meant to keep manure out of water. READ MORE
Published in State
August 9, 2017, Lake Mills, IA – Eric Christianson – a 30-year swine industry veterinarian who also operates a contract hog finishing site for Christensen Farms – has a unique perspective on the controversy brewing in nearby Worth County over the prospect of seven concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) being built.

Christianson, whose hog site is a $1.5 million operation with computers monitoring and regulating every phase of the operation, said he understands the concerns of the opponents in Worth County.

"But the science isn't there to validate their concerns," he said. READ MORE
Published in Swine
August 9, 2017, Kensett, IA – An organization calling itself Worth County Against CAFOs recently drew a crowd of about 60 at a meeting about the possible construction of several CAFOs throughout the county.

The CAFO opponents are hoping public pressure will lead to a moratorium on construction of CAFOs until Iowa’s Legislature can fix what the group alleges are “loopholes” in the state matrix that allows for easy approval of permits. READ MORE
Published in Swine
August 9, 2017, Green Bay, WI – Manure runoff from a dairy farm in Manitowoc County is affecting water quality in Pine Creek as it flows through the town of Newton, about five miles south of Manitowoc.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources responded August 7 to a complaint about a potential spill in the creek, which flows into Lake Michigan. The amount of runoff entering the stream is unknown and the impacts downriver are still being investigated at this time. The dairy is working with DNR staff to address the issue and the source from the manure pit has been controlled. Agriculture specialists with the DNR will continue to monitor water quality in the creek.

Published in Dairy
August 8, 2017, Celina, OH – About 40 area developers, politicians, farmers and business leaders gathered July 29 for the Our Land, Our Water Tour to learn more about land and manure-management efforts that could help improve Grand Lake's water quality.

The event was hosted at Schmitmeyer Farm near Coldwater and was the second annual tour and presentation meant to bring together local people from all walks of life and educate them on efforts to improve the lake. READ MORE

Published in Regional
August 8, 2017, Warsaw, NY – New state regulations that prevent farms from spreading manure on ground that is frozen or saturated has pushed improvements to agricultural waste storage capacities.

“There’s a big demand across the state, with the [NYS] DEC requiring farms to have enough storage to get through the wet and rainy seasons,” Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Greg McKurth told The Daily News after a new round of Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program grants were announced August 7. READ MORE
Published in State
August 4, 2017, Green Bay, WI – Standing up for hundreds of dairy farmers across Wisconsin, the Dairy Business Association is demanding that the state rein in the Department of Natural Resources for overreaching its legal authority on key regulations.

The dairy group recently filed a lawsuit against the DNR that centers on how the agency implements new regulations without going through an approval process required by state law.

The lawsuit deals specifically with one example of this pattern of unlawful behavior: changes to how farmers manage rainwater that comes into contact with feed storage or calf hutch areas. Those changes, in which the DNR abruptly abandoned its own earlier directives, are causing costly fixes and still more uncertainty for farmers.

“We’re not looking for a free pass on regulations. We’re asking the DNR to follow the rules,” said Mike North, president of the association. “The agency clearly is overstepping its legal boundaries on this and other issues.”

For years, the DNR encouraged farmers to build what are called vegetative treatment areas (VTAs) where the water is safely and naturally treated to prevent runoff and protect water quality. In 2016, the agency suddenly did an about-face and began requiring farmers to collect all the water and add it to manure pits for spreading on fields.

The move circumvented Act 21, which requires agencies to follow a specific method of rulemaking based on public transparency and lawmaker oversight. The lawsuit seeks to stop DNR’s ongoing efforts to skirt the formal rulemaking process.

“Farmers are not above the law. The Department of Natural Resources shouldn’t be either,” North said.

The reversal on VTAs is causing farmers to spend millions of dollars on new storage lagoons and calf hutch improvements, creating confusion and uncertainty, and actually increasing the risk of pollution, he said.

“The DNR – unfairly, unnecessarily and illegally – is putting the livelihoods of dairy farm families at risk,” he said. “They need to be treated fairly and provided with predictability in order to run their businesses successfully.”

The lawsuit also addresses a farm’s duty to apply for a permit. Despite a state law that binds the DNR to federal standards, the DNR has incorrectly adopted its own contradictory requirement. North said the hope is the lawsuit will result in a harmonization of state and federal law, while still providing for environmental oversight of farms.

“Dairy farmers are committed to doing the right thing for their cows, their communities and the environment,” he said. “Now, we need the DNR to do the right thing in regulating our farms.”

“This lawsuit is about more than VTAs and calf-hutches,” North said. “It is about preventing the DNR from ignoring the law.”

“And this affects more than farmers,” he said. “Many businesses and others who deal with the DNR are frustrated as well. All of us – the public – should be concerned when a state agency exceeds its authority. There is a tremendous amount at stake.”
Published in Dairy
August 1, 2017, Steven’s Point, WI – A coalition of grassroots environmental groups is calling for a statewide moratorium on new and expanding CAFO permits in Wisconsin.

Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network recently forwarded a letter to the Wisconsin State Farmer urging state legislators to “press the pause button” on new and expanding CAFOs in Wisconsin and put public health and safety before an “open for business” mantra. READ MORE
Published in Dairy
July 26, 2017, Des Moines, IA - As one of 12 legislators who drafted the bill in 2002 that created the Master Matrix, a current member of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors tasked with reviewing Master Matrix applications, and a lifelong Iowa farmer, I have a unique perspective on the Master Matrix, its failings and how it could be improved.

I support the recent petition presented by the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch because it is needed to restore balance to a system that has failed to adequately protect the rights of all Iowans, and certain precious natural resources unique to different counties, such as Karst topography in northeast Iowa.

The Master Matrix is a scoring system that awards points for livestock producers who adopt additional practices greater than the minimum required by state law.

Points are awarded for increasing the minimum separated distances between concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and churches, residences, public-use areas, and bodies of water. More restrictive manure management practices score additional points. The Master Matrix has a total of 44 questions that could result in a perfect score of 880 points, but only 440 points are required to get a passing grade.

The Department of Natural Resources' analysis of the Master Matrix shows that certain questions pertaining to separated distances are easy to score points on and nearly every application does.

Points are also awarded for practices, such as concrete manure storage structures, that are the industry standard. Other questions requiring air-quality monitoring, the installation of filters to reduce odors, demonstrating community support, implementing a worker safety and protection plan, or adopting an approved comprehensive nutrient management plan are almost never answered. READ MORE
Published in Regional
July 19, 2017, Vermont -  You can tell a lot about a farm by looking closely at the soil. That's why the new, statewide program to recognize Vermont's most environmentally friendly farmers will be based on soil-sampling and monitoring.

Today, Governor Phil Scott announced the pilot launch of the new Vermont Environmental Stewardship Program (VESP), which will use soil-based analysis to identify farmers who are going above and beyond to protect our natural resources.

Surrounded by state and federal officials at the North Williston Cattle Company, owned by the Whitcomb family, Governor Scott emphasized the important role farmers play in Vermont communities.

The program is a partner effort by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, and the University of Vermont Extension.
Published in Business/Policy
July 17, 2017, Madison, WI – Dane County is teaming up with local organizations, businesses and farmers to continue phosphorus reduction efforts in the Yahara Watershed, County Executive Joe Parisi announced recently.

The new public, private partnership will allow farmers to more effectively apply manure by injecting it directly into the ground, reducing the amount of nutrients that run off into local waterways.

“By using this equipment, farmers will be able to cut down on soil erosion, reduce odors, and decrease the amount of phosphorus leaving their fields,” said Parisi. “Our partnership reflects a unified effort between local leaders and businesses to ensure the Yahara Watershed stays clean and healthy, while providing farmers with the innovative tools they need to succeed in an environmentally friendly way.”

In the agreement, Dane County and the Yahara Watershed Improvement Network (Yahara WINS) will each allocate up to $60,000 to purchase a manure tanker and Low Disturbance Manure Injection (LDMI) toolbar. Yahara Pride Farms will rent a tractor from Carl F. Statz and Sons Inc., a farm implement dealer based in Waunakee, to haul the tanker and LDMI bar across each participant’s property. Yahara WINS is led by the Madison Metropolitan Sewage District and will use funds from the Clean Lakes Alliance to finance its share of the endeavor.

Yahara WINS is pleased to partner with the Yahara Pride Farm Group, Dane County and the Clean Lakes Alliance to provide opportunities for farmers to gain experience with low disturbance manure injection –an approach that will improve water quality by reducing the amount of phosphorus reaching our streams, rivers and lakes,” said Dave Taylor, consulting director for Yahara WINS.

Yahara Pride Farms is a farmer-led, nonprofit organization and was the first to bring this minimal soil disturbance technology for manure to Wisconsin farmers. To date, the program has covered over 3,600 acres of land and reduced 5,500 pounds of phosphorus on the Yahara Watershed using this manure technique. In 2016 alone, Yahara Pride Farms’ low disturbance manure injection resulted in an estimated 1,100 pounds of phosphorus savings from more than 1,200 acres of land.

“Farmers are leading progress toward collective water quality goals in the Yahara Watershed,” said Jeff Endres, chairman of Yahara Pride Farms. “Managing how nutrient-rich manure is applied to farm fields is a key component to achieving these goals.”

Last year, Dane County implemented and tracked more than 313 conservation practices and systems, resulting in 18,392 pounds of phosphorus being reduced in the Yahara Watershed. Under this new partnership, the manure injector is projected to reduce 1.5 pounds of phosphorus per acre of land each year.

Participants of the program will be charged a fee to cover operator costs, tractor rental, repair and maintenance, scheduling and insurance. To reduce participant expenses, Dane County developed a cost share program for individual farmers and custom haulers to purchase the LDMI toolbar. Currently, two cost share agreements totaling $46,495.50 have been approved to purchase the toolbar equipment.

The Yahara WINS executive committee approved the grant request to fund 50 percent of the costs for a tanker and LDMI toolbar with funds from the Clean Lakes Alliance in June. The Dane County board of supervisors is currently reviewing a resolution committing up to $60,000 in county dollars to match the committee’s funds.

Yahara Pride Farms will provide an annual report to the Dane County Land Conservation Division and Yahara WINS detailing treated field locations, number of acres covered, and pounds of phosphorus reduced. Previously, Yahara Pride Farms partnered with a local equipment dealer to provide a tanker and LDMI toolbar for individual farmers to use and gain experience with the technology.

Published in Manure Application
July 12, 2017, Lethbridge, Alta. - Farmers know the importance of keeping the land, water and air healthy to sustain their farms from one generation to the next. They also know that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand.

Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence and Member of
Parliament (Calgary Centre) Kent Hehr today announced a $1.1 million investment with the
University of Lethbridge to study ways to reduce methane gas emissions in cattle.

This project with the University of Lethbridge is one of 20 new research projects supported by
the $27 million Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP), a partnership with
universities and conservation groups across Canada. The program supports research into
greenhouse gas mitigation practices and technologies that can be adopted on the farm.

"Reducing the amount of greenhouse gases produced by the cattle sector is important both
environmentally, economically and helps build public trust. Producers want to operate in a
sustainable fashion and our study results will help them do that," said Dr. Erasmus Okine, University of Lethbridge Vice-President (Research). 

The study led by the University of Lethbridge will investigate whether the use of biochar, a feed supplement, in beef cattle diets improves the efficiency of digestion and reduces the amount of methane gas produced.
Published in Business/Policy
July 10, 2017, Washington, D.C. - The American Biogas Council, the trade association for the U.S. biogas industry, praises the recent introduction of the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act (H.R. 2853), House companion legislation to Senate bill 988.

The House bill was introduced by Congressmen Ron Kind (D-WI-3) and Tom Reed (R-NY-23) with 22 original bipartisan cosponsors. That list of supporters recently grew to 25 including Rep. Susan Delbene (D-WA-01), Jackie Walorski (R-IN-02), Elise Stafanik (R-NY-21), Mark Pocan (D-WI-02), Dan Newhouse (R-WA-4), Peter Welch (D-VT), Mike Simpson (R-ID-2), Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05), Glenn Thompson (R-PA-05), Joe Courtney (D-CT-2), David Valadao (R-CA-21), Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07), Todd Rokita (R-IN-04), Thomas Rooney (R-FL-17), Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19), Rod Blum (R-IA-01), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA-16), John Katko (R-NY-24), Steve Stivers (R-OH-15), Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13), Chris Collins (R-NY-27), Tim Walz (D-MN-01), Sean Duffy (R-WI-07), and John Faso (R-NY-19).

This bill, along with the Senate companion bill, (S. 988) introduced in early May, will increase agricultural viability by helping to deploy new nutrient recovery and biogas systems that recycles organic material into baseload renewable energy and healthy soil products.

The Act provides a 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC) for qualifying biogas and nutrient recovery systems.

"For a healthy economy, we need healthy soils and clean waterways. Biogas and nutrient recovery systems help us achieve cleaner, healthier soil and water and the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act will increase the deployment of these systems," said Patrick Serfass, Executive Director of the American Biogas Council. "We thank Congressmen Reed, Kind and the other co-sponsors of this bill for recognizing the far reaching benefits of sustainable farming where organic material and nutrients should be recycled to create beneficial soil products, baseload renewable energy and jobs."

The introduction of H.R. 2853, and the significant bipartisan support it has already received, reflects the critical need to support economically and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices that protect waterways and enrich soils.

At the present time, there are no tax incentives to encourage biogas or nutrient recovery systems. A previous production tax credit under section 45 of the federal tax code which promoted the use of renewable electricity expired at the end of 2016.

This new credit would promote the production of pipeline quality natural gas and compressed renewable natural gas vehicle fuel as well as nutrients which are essential to agricultural production.

"By creating incentives to make biogas and manure resource recovery technologies more affordable the Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Act will encourage more widespread use of manure digesters. This benefits society by decreasing nutrient runoff in waterways, decreasing farm odors, and improving water quality," said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.

The Algae Biomass Organization's Executive Director, Dr. Matt Carr has also shared his organization's support.

"By supporting investments in algae-based and other nutrient management systems, the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act will help farmers recycle valuable ag nutrients back into their operations and reduce the burden on taxpayers of recovering those nutrients downstream. It's a win-win for everyone."


Published in Federal
July 7, 2017, Ookala, Hawaii - Community activists on the Big Island are suing a dairy over ongoing pollution concerns despite previous citations from the state.

Kupale Ookala and the Center for Food Safety sued the Idaho-based company who operates the Ookala dairy on Hawaii Island's northern side.

The complaint cites ongoing concerns that runoff from the dairy polluted nearby communities, and violated the Clean Water Act when animal feces were released into streams and ocean water. READ MORE
Published in News
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