MON AM News: Evers meeting leaders of Japanese companies with in-state operations during trade mission; Dane County health officials join anti-vaping push

— On the first overseas trade mission of his administration, Gov. Tony Evers plans to meet several leaders of Japanese companies with operations in the state including Fujifilm, Kikkoman and Komatsu, which is building a new facility in Milwaukee. 

The guv departed Friday for the nine-day trip to Japan, leading a delegation of 28 members with 13 executives from nine Wisconsin companies, WEDC Chief Operating Officer Tricia Braun and UW officials. 

He landed in Tokyo on Saturday before joining Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. staff for an in-country briefing that evening. Members of the delegation met with Wisconsin’s sister state in Japan, Chiba Prefecture. 

On Sunday, the governor addressed the 51st annual joint meeting of the Midwest U.S. Japan Association ahead of the group’s conference this week. At the same event, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson thanked Kikkoman Chairman Yuzaburo Mogi for investing in Wisconsin. A release from Evers’ office shows the company launched its first overseas facility in Walworth more than 45 years ago. 

The MWJA Conference started yesterday and runs through Tuesday. The guv is scheduled to meet with Japanese government officials and officials from Komatsu this week. David Callender, communications director for WEDC, said the schedules for the Wisconsin executives will likely vary by company. Participants in the trade mission get a customized market assessment from the agency to guide their efforts. 

Japan is the fourth-largest market for export products from Wisconsin. Industrial machinery exports grew 44 percent in the first quarter of 2019, and other top categories include scientific instruments and prepared meat and seafood. 

Companies in the state exported $735 million in goods to Japan in 2018. Last year’s total exports were down from 2017, but they rose 11 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year. And ag exports to Japan grew 21 percent in 2018. 

See more: 

— Public Health Madison & Dane County has joined the list of public health agencies calling on residents to stop using e-cigarettes or other vaping devices, as hundreds of cases of severe lung disease linked to vaping are being investigated around the country. 

According to the latest count from the state Department of Health Services, 34 cases of severe lung disease have been confirmed in the state in people who reported vaping. Most of those cases in Wisconsin involved vaping devices containing THC, the main psychoactive component in marijuana. 

“I urge everyone that currently uses vaping devices to inhale THC or nicotine to stop immediately, and encourage others to not begin using these products,” says Janel Heinrich, PHMDC’s health officer.  

DHS is warning Wisconsinites to avoid these products, and the Milwaukee Health Department recently issued a health alert calling on city residents to stop vaping altogether in the face of this growing public health issue. 

Nationwide, more than 200 potential cases are being investigated across multiple states. 

Meanwhile, health officials from New York have determined “cannabis-containing” vaping products used by those afflicted with lung diseases had high levels of vitamin E acetate, a common nutritional supplement. 

According to a release from the New York State Department of Health, the supplement isn’t known to cause any issues when ingested or applied to the skin. However, the department is still exploring the effects of inhaling vaporized forms of the supplement, as its “oil-like” properties could be connected to the observed symptoms. 

The release shows New York officials are still testing vape products containing nicotine and THC, and also continue testing the purity of certain medical marijuana products, which are legal there. Officials suspect the products in question could be counterfeits of THC vape products that are legal for recreational use in other states. 

In a separate release, the FDA cautions that no one substance has been identified in all the products tested, and vitamin E acetate may be just a piece of the puzzle. 

See the release from Public Health Madison & Dane County: 

See the New York release here: 

See images of the vaping products linked to severe breathing problems: 

Track the Wisconsin investigation: 

— The latest FDIC numbers show banks in the state are lending more to the ag sector as farmers struggle to turn a profit. 

That’s from a recent release from the Wisconsin Bankers Association, highlighting increased loans across “virtually every category.” 

Commercial and industrial loans are up 5.2 percent, while the net loans and leases grew 4.1 percent. And residential loans rose 1.3 percent since last year. 

Rose Oswald Poels, president and CEO of WBA, says members are reporting solid overall loan quality. 

“Demand for deposits continues to remain fierce as shown by an increase of 56.4 percent in total interest expense,” she said in a statement. “Margins are holding steady which helps to maintain net income. Loan rates seem to be dropping.” 

Farmland loans increased 3 percent, while farm loans went up 1.2 percent. 

“Agricultural bankers continue to proactively reach out and work with their customers during these challenging times,” she said. “It’s important for the ag community to have Wisconsin banks to help them through these tough times.”  

See the release: 

— Researchers at UW-Madison are helping farmers combat an invasive species of fruit fly, which could threaten small fruit industries in the state. 

According to a release from the university, the spotted wing Drosophila was first seen in the state in 2010. Patrick Leisch, an entomologist with UW-Extension, says the pest affects all growers of small fruit, including large commercial producers. 

“It’s surprising how quickly it took off in the state, and how dramatic the damage can be,” Leisch said in a release. “Growers have to spray regularly who did not have to do nearly as much, or did not even spray at all.”

University scientists are exploring other methods of tamping down on fly populations by using mulches to alter the growing conditions for raspberries and other fruit crops. The method can increase the temperature and reduce humidity, bringing down the number of adult flies and sparing more fruit from infestation. 

The release shows the project is supported by DATCP, the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, and a graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation. 

See the release: 

— Nestle USA has notified the state Department of Workforce Development of plans to lay off workers at four Wisconsin locations in Delevan, Sussex, Appleton and Medford. 

The facilities in Delavan and Sussex are closing, while the other two are losing workers. 

A release from DWD shows the closures are expected to impact 126 jobs, with layoffs beginning Nov. 1 and continuing through the end of the year. The notice sent to DWD shows the locations are being closed as part of a sales and supply chain restructuring. 

As with all official business closures, DWD and regional partners will help out affected workers with workshops and other resources aimed at getting them back in the workforce. 

See the notice: 


# Enbridge Energy conducting surveys for potential reroute of Line 5 pipeline

# Mandel Group unveils $150 million Harbor District plan

# Report: Milwaukee a good bet for industrial real estate investors

# Sports gambling inches closer to Wisconsin, but its legalization in the state is uncertain



– August Class III milk price inches higher at $17.60

– Hogseth to serve as WFU watershed coordinator


– Mandel Group still wants pedestrian bridge between 3rd Ward and Harbor District


– UW-Madison establishes new School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences

– Ag in the Classroom mini-grants available to Teachers

– PDPW webinar focuses on getting the most out of forages


– Study: More Wisconsin residents could lose SNAP benefits

– Cases of lung disease linked to vaping surge across US


– Nestle to eliminate 126 jobs in Wisconsin


– Sona Chawla to step down as president of Kohl’s


– See Indeed Brewing’s new brewery and taproom in Walker’s Point: Slideshow

– Lakefront Brewery crafts beer keg tornado outside of its building


– United Way of Racine County names president and CEO


– Japan-Wisconsin Trade: Evers Heads To Japan, With Forecast Of Success

– State lawmakers urge Trump to reinstate federal PLA ban


– Creative Spotlight: Deep River Partners designs luxury dream homes for Milwaukee’s elite

– Milwaukee’s Johnson’s Park could be sold for redevelopment

– V. Marchese looks to buy second city-owned site to allow for facility expansion


– Kohl’s president Sona Chawla will step down


– Fetch Rewards exchanges receipt photos for rewards points, gift cards

– Madison-based RotoWire to launch sports gambling information service


– Wisconsin tribe joins groups opposed to Superior gas plant


– Tom Still: UW-Madison computing effort moves forward


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Dept. of Workforce Development: Wisconsin Business Closing & Mass Layoff (WARN) Notice: Nestlé USA

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce: Gov. Evers proclaims September as Chamber of Commerce Month

Strauss Brands: To build headquarters and processing facility at Century City