TUE AM News: Ag experts see difficult road ahead for farmers in Wisconsin; Pet products manufacturer expanding in Menomonie

— Agriculture experts see a difficult road ahead for farmers in the state as they struggle with wet conditions, the ongoing trade war and low crop prices. 

“Anybody in ag lending can talk about it. All the capital is gone — the working capital, the liquid capital, the current ratio — whatever you want to use for a measure,” said Paul Mitchell, executive director for the Renk Agribusiness Institute. “We’re leading the nation in farm bankruptcies as a state.” 

Mitchell spoke last week on a panel of industry experts at UW-Platteville to discuss some of the difficult hurdles Wisconsin farmers are facing. The event was part of WisBusiness.com’s “Navigating the New Economy” series, supported by the Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training. 

“Equity is always hard to scrounge up,” said Anna Landmark, a cheesemaker and owner of Landmark Creamery in Belleville. “There’s not a lot of grant programs for food businesses of my size to take advantage of… so growth has been a challenge.” 

Several of the panelists described a sense of overwhelming stress as farmers try to make it through to next year. 

“The capital has been sucked away, and it’s going to take a while to build those reserves back up again,” Mitchell said. “The stress will stick with us for a while in farming. It’s not like every farmer is struggling, but a lot of farmers are — more than they were five years ago.”

Agriculture Secretary Brad Pfaff noted exports for the first half of this year were down 7 percent compared to the same period last year. Wisconsin exported more than $1.6 billion in agricultural products to 125 countries during the first six months of 2019.

“Without a doubt, this has been a challenging year. Most producers don’t produce for the export market, but the export market plays such an important role in what is happening,” he said.

See more: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/ag-experts-see-difficult-road-ahead-for-farmers-in-wisconsin/ 

— A pet products manufacturer called Vets Plus is expanding and renovating locations in Menomonie, with plans to invest $2.5 million in the project. 

A release from WEDC shows the project could create 199 direct jobs, and as many as 352 additional indirect jobs in the region. 

To support the expansion, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has authorized up to $400,000 in state income tax credits that can be earned through capital expenditures and creating jobs in the state. 

Vets Plus produces pharmaceuticals and other health products for pets. The company plans to add 30,000 square feet of manufacturing space to one building that produces supplements for pets. That expansion is expected to create 139 full time positions. 

Meanwhile, the other facility will be renovated to improve production operations for drug products under a subsidiary called Noble Pharma. The second part of the project is expected to create 60 jobs. 

Rajiv Lall, company founder and CEO, says Menomonie has been home for his company and family for the past 30 years. The business has six production facilities within 10 miles of Menomonie, and distributes products in the United States and globally. 

“I feel blessed with the tremendous support we’ve received from the local community,” he said in a release. “This commitment to expanding our manufacturing capacity in our hometown reaffirms our pride in this wonderful community.” 

See more: http://wedc.org/blog/vets-plus-inc-expands-operations-in-menomonie/ 

— The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $750,000 grant to a Marquette University professor who’s working to improve access to mental health care in Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin. 

Lee Za Ong is an assistant professor of counselor education and counseling psychology at the university’s College of Education. Her project aims to increase the number of qualified rehabilitation counselors specializing in mental illness while boosting the skills of these care providers. 

Over the next five years, Ong will use the grant funding to recruit and enroll at least 25 master’s degree students for a mental illness rehabilitation clinical instruction course. Participating students will receive six credits of tuition reimbursement per semester.

Ong says more rehab counselors are needed in Milwaukee, the surrounding region and the state overall. 

“Looking forward, this grant will connect so many people experiencing mental illness in underserved communities to clinical rehabilitation counseling professional in the community,” she said. 

See the release: 


— Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is asking the Trump administration to consider his city as a host to the 2020 G-7 summit of world leaders.

While taking questions at a news conference, the Dem mayor said he wrote the White House a letter Sunday and received confirmation that they got it.

Asked by reporters how likely it was that the city could be picked to hold such an event, Barrett said, “The same question was asked how likely it was that we’d get the DNC and we’re getting the DNC.”

Barrett touted the state’s dairy industry and manufacturers like Harley Davidson as a reason to host the summit. He also said the city would already have heightened security measures due to the upcoming DNC and Ryder Cup golf tournament.

The G-7, comprised of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., the U.S., is an annual gathering of world leaders to discuss politics and the global economy.

Trump canceled his original plans to hold the summit at Trump National Doral golf resort in Florida after bipartisan backlash from lawmakers to the prospect of the president hosting an international conference at one of his own properties.

— Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation is planning to temporarily lay off 22 workers starting next month, according to a notice sent to the state Department of Workforce Development. 

The notice shows the layoffs are expected to begin Nov. 18, with a planned recall date for affected employees of Jan. 6, 2020. 

Silgan Containers is a major provider of metal food packaging in the United States. Affected workers are represented by Teamsters Union, Local 695. The notice does not provide an explanation for the layoffs. 

See the DWD release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/dept-of-workforce-development-wisconsin-business-closing-and-mass-layoff-notice-warn-silgan-containers/ 

— Matt Miszewski is joining Madison-based AkitaBox as its CEO, the organization announced this week.

Co-founder and CEO Todd Hoffmaster announced he is stepping down to pursue other opportunities within the company, which provides facility management software. 

“Matt brings a wealth of industry experience that we feel will drive growth at AkitaBox,” Hoffmaster said in a statement. “He has led global teams to excellence focusing on go-to-market execution, revenue leadership, growth and capital distribution and balances his entrepreneurial vision with large enterprise results.”

Miszewski, who is also joining AkitaBox’s board of directors, previously served as chief revenue officer for a software company called Socrata. He graduated with a degree in international affairs from Marquette University.

AkitaBox currently services educational, commercial, healthcare and government facilities in 38 states.

See more at Madison Startups: http://www.madisonstartups.com/akitabox-names-new-ceo/ 

See an earlier story on AkitaBox: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2016/akitabox-raises-11-million-for-building-solutions-product/ 


# Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin rolling out new brand as ‘Children’s Wisconsin’

# Union Grove business turns poop of 4.5 million worm into $2.5 million in annual sales


# Strauss Brands rescinds $60M plan to move HQ to Milwaukee’s Century City


# DNR board ready to move forward on water pollution rules




– Wisconsin FFA ready for national convention in Indy


– World Brown Swiss Conference to be held in Wisconsin in 2020



– Madison housing crunch makes living hard for homeless


– Extension offering QPR training for ag-business professionals



– DNR board ready to move forward on water-pollution rules


– Vendors scramble as fresh lake perch supply shrinks



– Hayat Pharmacy plans new location at former Fitzgerald Pharmacy space in Whitefish Bay

– Study links childhood lead exposure to later gun violence



– Barrett ‘disappointed’ by Strauss Brands’ decision, vows to fight for central city jobs



– Strauss Brands drops plans for HQ and meat processing facility at Century City

– Harley-Davidson resumes LiveWire production, says just one motorcycle glitched



– DNC Host Committee board includes representative from underwriter LaConte’s company 


– Gov. Tony Evers calls special session on gun control



– Vorteq, the former Wismarq Industries, moving HQ to Pittsburgh from Wisconsin


– Strauss Brands ends plans to bring slaughterhouse to Milwaukee’s Century City



– New grocery store to bring zero-waste movement to Milwaukee this year


– Milwaukee Mayor Asks President Trump To Consider Hosting 2020 G-7 Summit In Milwaukee


– Mayor Barrett invites Trump to hold G-7 summit in Milwaukee



<i>See these and other press releases: 

http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=82 </i>

Dept. of Workforce Development: Wisconsin Business Closing and Mass Layoff Notice (WARN): Silgan Containers

Wisconsin Partnership Program: Announces awards to health equity initiatives