— Eighteen of the 51 recommendations made by the Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0 earlier this year have seen some form of action, according to a dashboard maintained by DATCP.
But Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at UW-Madison, doesn’t expect all of the task force’s recommendations to be carried out.
“Quite honestly, if all of them were implemented, I’d feel like the 31-member task force didn’t work hard enough,” he told WisBusiness.com. “We should have been trying to imagine some things that were just not going to happen.”
He noted about a third of the recommendations made by the state’s original Dairy Task Force, established in 1985, “never really got traction.”
“But the ones that did had a big impact on the trajectory of the state’s dairy industry,” he said. “Hopefully that’s true for this one as well.”
According to Stephenson, some of the recommendations made this time around were ranked more highly by the task force in terms of potential impact on the dairy industry. One of those was the Dairy Innovation Hub, which got an $8.8 million allotment in the biennial budget for dairy research at UW-Madison, UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls.
Task force members also identified a “huge, virtually untapped growth opportunity” for exporting cheese products overseas, he said. Stephenson explained that most Wisconsin cheese is sold outside of the state but still inside the country. Some cheese sellers in the state export products to other countries, but Stephenson sees this as a major opportunity for expansion.
According to him, the state’s dairy industry hasn’t done more international exporting, because “it’s complicated compared to a domestic customer.” He said exporting out of the United States requires more of a solid commitment from foreign customers, and the process entails more paperwork and red tape.
One specific proposal for boosting international exports was to create an organization that could sell Wisconsin-branded cheese or dairy products. Ireland has pursued this strategy with its Kerrygold brand for Irish butter and other dairy products.
“The thought was to do something like that for Wisconsin,” he said, adding the idea would allow various state dairy producers to ship aggregate loads to other markets, improving the economics for companies with smaller export volumes.
— Wisconsin home sales fell 2.1 percent in August compared to the same month last year, the latest report from the Wisconsin Realtors Association shows.
At the same time, median home prices rose 9 percent, according to the report. WRA’s analysis shows the trend is similar over the year. Comparing the first eight months of 2019 to the same period of 2018, home sales dropped 3.2 percent while home prices rose 7.6 percent.
“With tight supply and strong demand, robust price appreciation is to be expected, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing,” said WRA President and CEO Michael Theo.
— The FDA has approved Exact Sciences’ Cologuard colon cancer test for eligible average-risk patients ages 45 and older, according to a release from the Madison diagnostics company.
Previously, the Food and Drug Administration had approved the test for eligible adults ages 50 and older.
The release shows health care providers diagnosed more than 130,000 cases of colon cancer in Americans under age 50 between 2004 and 2015. More than half of these cases were diagnosed at an advanced stage when survival rates are lower.
According to Exact Sciences, about 10 percent of people with stage IV colon cancer survive more than five years.
Exact Sciences CEO and Chairman Kevin Conroy says about 3 million people have been screened with Cologuard, and about half of those patients were previously unscreened.
The new FDA indication follows the American Cancer Society’s decision in May 2018 to update its colon cancer screening guidelines to include people between ages 45 and 49.
“We are giving health care providers a sensitive, noninvasive option that has the potential to help combat the rise of colorectal cancer rates among this younger group of people,” Conroy said.
— The Water Council has announced the latest round of the BREW Accelerator and the BREW Corporate Accelerator, which helps water tech startups develop business models.
BREW stands for Business, Research and Entrepreneurship in Water. The BREW Accelerator has supported about 40 companies since 2013, providing seed funding, offices and research space in Milwaukee’s Global Water Center. The three-month program includes weekly “business validation activities” with business coaches.
The latest round of the BREW Accelerator will focus on emerging technologies, specifically solutions to address run-off from farming operations.
Meanwhile, the BREW Corporate Accelerator is focusing on: residential and commercial drinking water treatment; high-efficiency, low-emission water heating technologies; sensors for monitoring water contaminants; and data-gathering technologies for water heaters and drinking water systems.
Applications are being accepted through Nov. 3, and the cohort will begin April 2020.
— Generac is launching a new line of solar energy storage systems, its first foray into the clean energy market.
The Waukesha-based manufacturer of generators and other energy products is rolling out the new product line after acquiring two companies: Neurio Technology, which makes home energy management technology; and Pika Energy, a manufacturer of solar energy storage systems.
Generac is unveiling the new products this week at Solar Power International 2019, being held in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“We’re bringing a professional infrastructure, manufacturing capability, and highly-regarded product reliability to the solar power energy storage industry,” said Russ Minick, Generac’s chief marketing officer and business leader for clean energy.
— Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics has unveiled a new 32,000-square-foot cell therapeutics facility in Madison, dubbed the Innovation Facility for Advanced Cell Therapies, or i-FACT.
It marked a milestone for Fujifilm since it acquired Cellular Dynamics in 2015. At the time, Fujifilm announced it would maintain operations in Madison, which still holds true today.
“We value the strong connections we have built with the city, the university, the state and other partners,” FCDI CEO Takeshi Yamamoto said at a ceremony held last week at University Research Park. “The Madison area is rich in expertise.”
In turn, city, state and other officials, including Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and BioForward CEO Lisa Johnson, thanked FCDI for keeping its facility in Madison.
“I am impressed as we move science to a higher level,” Gov. Tony Evers said. “I am excited that Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics continues to call Madison home.”
Construction for the facility, which will have three independent clean labs, began in March 2018 and will be completed in March 2020.
Dr. James Thomson founded Cellular Dynamics International in 2004. He also expressed gratitude about the company remaining in town.
“The fact that it’s in Wisconsin means we’ll still be at the forefront,” Thomson said. “I think we must expect great things from you.”
See more at Madison Startups: http://www.madisonstartups.com/fcdi-unveils-cell-therapeutics-facility/
Listen to a recent podcast with Johnson: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/wisbusiness-the-podcast-with-lisa-johnson-ceo-for-bioforward/
# Froedtert & the Medical College planning Pewaukee medical center
# Four Milwaukee area Ascension Wisconsin hospitals post losses; Aurora hospitals up
# Emerging research finds microplastics are an unseen problem on the Mississippi River
# Exact Science’s Cologuard test approved for ages 45 and up, expanding market 22%
– Wisconsin included in USDA’s next labor survey
– FAA announces $50.5M in grants for Wisconsin airport infrastructure projects
– Wisconsin home sales dip in August after July bump
– Pittsville FFA to hold annual cranberry tours
# FOOD AND BEVERAGE
– Lowlands Group will release new beer at third annual Kwaktoberfest celebration
– Kohl’s CEO Gass makes second appearance on Fortune’s ‘Most Powerful Women’ list
– Enerpac brand reborn in Actuant name change, CEO says
– Wisconsin Republican Senate leader floats tax cut idea
# REAL ESTATE
– $45 million, 248-unit workforce housing project proposed for Sheboygan
– Planned hotel in West Allis could move, freeing corner for other development
– Community workshop The Bodgery offers array of tools, studio space in Oscar Mayer location
– Wisconsin Center District hires owner’s representative for expansion project
– Local, national brands arrive at Mitchell airport as part of food and retail rebranding
– Tom Still: Turning early-stage rejection into ‘yes’ can depend on supply of cash
– ‘Almond milk is not milk, veggie burgers are not burgers’
# PRESS RELEASES
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