FRI AM News: Farm groups, manufacturers hailing USMCA Senate passage as major victory; WisBusiness: the Podcast with Jennifer Gottwald, director of licensing for WARF

SUBSCRIBERS: There will be no products Monday in recognition of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Products will return Tuesday.

— Farm groups and manufacturers in the state are hailing Senate passage of the USMCA as a major victory. 

The United States Mexico Canada Agreement passed the U.S. Senate this week with support from both of Wisconsin’s senators. U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin voted in favor of the USMCA, which cleared the Senate on a bipartisan basis, 89-10.

The agreement was signed by all three countries in 2018, but the legislative bodies of each needed to ratify the deal. The USMCA ratification bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives last month, and Senate approval clears the way for President Trump to sign it into law. 

Mexico and Canada account for more than 40 percent of all U.S. dairy exports and are top export destinations for agricultural products coming out of Wisconsin. 

A release from USDA notes all food and agricultural products that had no tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement will remain tariff-free under the USMCA. 

“Free-flowing trade with neighboring nations will provide a measure of security for dairy farmers and their processor partners that is sorely needed,” said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. 

Joe Bragger, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, adds the agreement will provide new market access for dairy and poultry products. 

“Specifically, our state’s dairy farmers should welcome U.S. dairy products access to an additional 3.6 percent of Canada’s dairy market,” he said. 

In a statement, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce President and CEO Kurt Bauer notes that one in four manufacturing firms in the state export goods to Canada and Mexico, and more than 44,000 workers in the state have jobs that rely on trade with these two countries. 

See more: 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Jennifer Gottwald, director of licensing for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. 

In the podcast, Gottwald discusses a persistent gender gap in patenting and details strategies for improving diversity in the field. She previews the message she’ll be bringing to an upcoming meeting of the Madison Women in Intellectual Property, or MadWIP. 

The Jan. 24 luncheon will be held at the Foley & Lardner offices in Madison, where Gottwald will discuss unconscious biases and the effects they’re having on patenting. She explained that many more patent applications are submitted by men than women, though the disparity is improving slowly. 

“A system was set up for people who were in the science and technology jobs a long time ago, when it mostly was a more homogenous group, and that system doesn’t necessarily fit what we’re doing today,” she said. “We’re getting more and more women in science and engineering — especially at the university level and in companies — but they often are not the people recognizing themselves as inventors, or going through the disclosure process and filing patents.” 

She also provides an overview of the licensing process at WARF, which handles tech transfer and commercialization for UW-Madison. 

Listen to the podcast here:

See a full list of podcasts, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— Farmers in the state are applauding a “phase one” trade agreement signed recently by leaders of the United States and China. 

According to Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President Joe Bragger, the agreement has been “a long-awaited moment for many farmers.” Bragger attended the signing ceremony this week at the White House. 

“Wisconsin Farm Bureau hopes this agreement signals progress in ultimately reaching a fair deal with one of our largest trading partners,” he said in a statement. “While it won’t save us from all the hardships facing agriculture, it is a step in the right direction.”

A release from WFBF shows China will boost imports of U.S. agricultural products and other goods in exchange for the United States relaxing its tariff policies toward the country. 

Brody Stapel, president of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, says the initial agreement represents a positive step. In a statement, he notes that China is estimated to exceed the United States as the world’s largest dairy market, reaching $114 billion by 2024. 

“As we look forward to reviewing the details specific to dairy in this agreement, we trust that the deal reflects how significant China is to the sustainability of our businesses,” Stapel said. 

Still, Stapel noted the deal doesn’t address retaliatory tariffs placed on U.S. dairy products by China. He argues for the removal of these tariffs in subsequent agreements. 

China is Wisconsin’s second-largest export market for agricultural products, with nearly $293 million in exports in 2018, according to figures from DATCP. 

See more reactions at the press release page: 

— Gov. Tony Evers says he has more clarity about the Foxconn development in Racine County, according to a report from WISN 12 News. 

The guv said the project’s future is more clear, with a 1-million-square-foot building now built in Mount Pleasant. Still, estimates for job creation have been pared back dramatically as construction work on the project continues. 

Evers reiterated that he wants the Taiwanese company to succeed but stressed the importance of accountability and transparency, the report shows.

See more in Foxconn Reports below. 

— The latest Marquette University Law School Poll finds 35 percent of voters believe the benefits of the Foxconn project are worth the incentives, while 46 percent said the state is paying more than the plant is worth. 

The poll’s Foxconn question mentioned the state is providing up to $3 billion in taxpayer money as a subsidy for the company, which has promised to create 13,000 jobs.

President Trump and former Gov. Scott Walker hailed the project when it was first announced in summer 2017. But the president didn’t mention it during his rally in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

See more on the results:

— Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures is backing a California company called U-Nest, marking the fund’s first investment in a startup founded by a woman. 

Late last year, the venture capital fund announced it would dedicate $20 million in funding for women-led companies. 

U-Nest has a mobile app that helps families save up for college and related expenses. Its $3.5 million seed round, led by Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, also included other investors such as Los Angeles-based Group 11. 

A release shows U-Nest was selected by the Milwaukee-based fund due to its rapid growth and industry impact. 

Crunchbase estimates that firms with female founders receive less than 3 percent of all venture funding, though their share of the market is increasing. 

“As a female founder, it is essential that the capital you raise comes from a source that believes in you,” said Ksenia Yudina, CEO and founder of U-Nest. 

Northwestern Mutual’s venture capital arm is focused on opportunities in financial technology including analytics and customer experience, as well as digital health applications. 

John Grogan, chief product and innovation officer for the company, says U-Nest aligns with the fund’s focus on “technological disruption and investing in solutions that transform how our clients achieve financial security.” 

See the release: 


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– Bragger attends U.S.- China trade agreement signing

– Roden chosen to replace Strauss on Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin board


– WCTC president Kaylen Betzig to retire

– Wisconsin FFA Foundation scholarships available


– Weekend winter storm expected to hit all of Wisconsin


– Governor: Foxconn showing more transparency


– 37 people charged in federal court for Wisconsin drug trafficking


– DNC Chair Tom Perez stumps for health care reform in Milwaukee

– Ag Day at the Capitol slated for February 4


– W.M. Sprinkman headquarters building sold to real estate investment firm

– Milwaukee architecture firm Kahler Slater opening Chicago office


– Committee advances tax break for apprenticeship tuition

– Madison alcohol review committee rejects licenses for Silk Exotic strip club


– Town square transformation underway at Bayshore


– Foam cheesehead is hot when Packers do well


– Trio of new museum leaders meet to learn, discuss future plans


– Viking Cruises to make 20 port calls in Milwaukee in 2022

– Viking to add Great Lakes cruises, bringing thousands of tourists to Milwaukee


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

Clark Dietz: Hires new Project Manager in Municipal Services

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative: USMCA is ‘landmark victory’ for dairy farmers, processors

MWFPA: Midwest food manufacturers praise passage of trade deal