MON AM News: Wisconsin farmers needed federal aid to combat COVID impact; “Talking Trade” discusses human rights impact on trade

— Wisconsin’s farm groups agree that more than $850 million in federal aid was needed to absorb the shock of COVID-19 in the ag sector, but trade and market changes for the long-term success of the industry are also critical.

When COVID-19 hit Wisconsin, it shut down schools, restaurants and hotels, and limited travel — big-ticket markets for the state’s agriculture industry. Not only that, but the supply chain for farm products was challenged as processing plants shut down due to virus outbreaks among workers.

The Trump administration launched two rounds of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. This provided producers with financial assistance to absorb the increased marketing costs associated with the pandemic. Additionally, Gov. Tony Evers allocated $50 million of the state’s share of federal CARES Act money to the Wisconsin Farm Support Program.

But COVID-19’s impact was just further strain on an already weak agricultural economy. Wisconsin’s farming organizations say farmers are looking for long-term relief to deal with the effects of trade wars, low prices, unpredictable markets and bankruptcies that existed prior to the pandemic.  

“Something that we hear over and over from farmers across the political spectrum is that they would rather get a fair price from the marketplace than accept government aid or rely on these programs to keep their farms afloat,” said Bobbi Wilson, policy and special projects coordinator for the Wisconsin Farmers Union. “Unfortunately, we’re in a situation right now where the aid is even more needed than it was before due to the supply chain disruptions and price volatility caused by the pandemic. But on the whole, farmers would just rather see fair and stable prices that they can count on rather than having to take a handout.” 

Read the full story at 

— Human rights charges in East Asia impact trade in important ways, according to “Talking Trade” hosts Prof. Ian Coxhead and M.E. Dey & Co. President Sandi Siegel.

The video podcast explores trade issues affecting Wisconsin and the Midwest.

See the show supported by the Center for East Asian Studies at UW-Madison: 

— A split state appeals court reinstated a temporary injunction preventing enforcement of the Evers administration’s order limiting indoor gatherings to 25 percent of a room’s capacity.

The 3rd District Court of Appeals also set an expedited briefing schedule as it reviews a circuit court judge’s ruling that had upheld the order. In a 2-1 ruling, the court ruled the injunction was justified because the plaintiffs had established a likelihood of success in challenging the administration’s order.

Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm earlier this month issued an order limiting indoor, public gatherings for a four-week period that expires Nov. 6. The Tavern League challenged the order, arguing it violated a May state Supreme Court ruling that nixed the extended stay-at-home directive she issued. The league argued the new order should’ve been issued through the state’s administrative rules process under the ruling. That process gives the Legislature oversight of the directive.

Early last week, Barron County Judge James Babler ruled Palm still had the power to issue the new directive under the Supreme Court’s May ruling without going through the administrative rules process.

An Amery tavern, The Mix Up, and Pro-Life Wisconsin, both of which intervened in the suit, then appealed to the 3rd District.

When asked for a reaction to Friday’s action, a spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Evers referred to the guv’s earlier statement that Babler’s ruling was key in helping the state limit the spread of COVID-19 amid a spike in cases.

Read the order:

— Wisconsin reported 33 COVID-19 deaths this weekend, bringing the state’s coronavirus death toll to 1,778. 

The state reported 3,626 yesterday, bringing the seven-day average of daily confirmed cases to 4,007. The seven-day single-day case average rose to a record 4,050 on Saturday, breaking 4,000 for the first time eight days after breaking 3,000.

Wisconsin experienced almost 37 percent of its 198,166 cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases since the first of the month, and over 61 percent since Sept. 1.  

Yesterday’s confirmed cases were out of 14,022 people tested. The seven-day average of new confirmed cases per total people tested is at 24.5 percent. In terms of total tests collected, the average positive test percentage is at a record 12.8 percent.

Wisconsin reports 40,538 of its cumulative COVID-19 cases as active, while 155,814 people are recorded as recovered. The death rate for Wisconsin residents who have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 is at 0.9 percent.

The seven-day average for daily deaths due to the virus is at 27, shy of Saturday’s record of 28 deaths per day on average.

The counties leading the state’s death toll are Milwaukee (569), Waukesha (112), Racine (107), Brown (89) and Kenosha (76). 

Three counties in Wisconsin haven’t reported any COVID-19 deaths: Crawford, Menominee and Pepin. Florence County has the highest death rate in the state — 3 percent of its 206 confirmed cases have passed away. 

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: 

— COVID-19 hospitalizations are at a record 1,295 statewide, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s coronavirus data dashboard.

Intensive care unit patients number a record 320, under Friday’s record of 331 patients. 

The Alternative Care Facility at State Fair Park had two patients as of Sunday. On Saturday, three patients had been admitted to the West Allis field hospital. 

The ACF was designed to serve as an overflow facility for hospitals across the state. In less than one month, COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU census have doubled statewide. 

The Department of Health Services’ hospital data show the Fox Valley, north central and southeast regions of the state operating at over 85 percent hospital bed capacity. Northeast Wisconsin is operating near 90 percent for its ICU capacity, and southeast Wisconsin is running over 90 percent capacity for ICU beds.  

See the ACF patient tracker here: 

Click here to see the WHA dashboard: 

— The deadline for COVID-19 grant programs for movie theaters, lodging properties and entertainment venues is Wednesday. 

Earlier this month, Gov. Tony Evers announced more than $100 million in CARES Act dollars for Wisconsin small businesses and economic stabilization. This included $20 million for the Wisconsin lodging industry, $15 million for live music and performance venues throughout the state and $10 million to support privately owned movie theaters.

The remaining $64 million was allocated to non-profit cultural venues, destination marketing organizations and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s “We’re All In Grants.”

Wisconsin movie theater owners and operators whose operations have been negatively affected by COVID-19 can find grant details and an application here: 

Wisconsin hotel and lodging facility owners can find grant details and an application here: 

Wisconsin’s live music and entertainment venues and operators can click here: 

— Despite the pandemic, Wisconsin saw a 4.1 percent increase in GPR collections in the first quarter of the 2021 fiscal year over last year.

Collections totaled over $3.5 million, an increase of $138,511 compared to the first quarter of the 2020 fiscal year. 

The greatest revenue increases were seen in corporate and “other” collections at a 52.7 percent increase and a 57 percent increase, respectively. “Other” can include estate, utility and real estate transfer tax collections, according to the Department of Revenue. 

These revenue sources together brought in over $574,000 this quarter compared to over $375,000 in the first quarter of last year.

The state saw a decrease in revenue from individual income collections and excise taxes at a 3.5 percent drop and a 3.8 percent drop, respectively. Together, these sources brought in roughly $1.92 million this quarter compared to about $1.99 million last year. 

General sales and use revenue collections were up at 0.9 percent over last year.

The DOR’s report does not include taxes collected by the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, administrative fees and other miscellaneous revenues.

See the report: 

— The Department of Health Services is partnering with the Wisconsin National Guard and local and tribal health departments to expand testing to 70 new sites across the state.

The state’s community testing program and increased access to testing is about understanding where the disease is in Wisconsin and who has it, DHS Secretary Andrea Palm said during a recent health briefing. 

“I think it’s very likely that the majority of new cases in the state are the result of transmission from someone that doesn’t have symptoms,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, the state’s chief medical officer. 

COVID-19 is not like other diseases, he said. Normally, symptomatic people are the source of most infections. While it’s true that those who are symptomatic for COVID-19 are highly infectious, asymptomatic individuals can also spread the virus.

“The highest priority is testing people with those with symptoms,” Westergaard said. He added the “second tier” is testing people who have been exposed regardless of symptoms. 

“But in this environment, where the virus is spreading silently throughout the whole state, we’re not going to make a dent unless we test people without symptoms,” he said. “That’s the situation where we are now. This virus is spreading silently, we have to presume that it is everywhere and everyone that has access to a test should get a test.” 

Palm echoed Westergaard that the novel coronavirus is everywhere in Wisconsin. 

“We must take action immediately to stop transmission and get Wisconsin moving in the right direction again,” she said. 

During the health briefing, Palm asked residents to stay home, wash their hands, limit interactions, wear a mask, physically distance, get tested if they’re symptomatic or have been exposed to the virus, notify their contacts, quarantine as they wait for results and self isolate if they test positive.

Find a community testing site here:  

— Wisconsin’s air quality is improving, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

The 2020 Air Quality Trends Report, which includes air quality data from 2001 to 2019, finds that concentrations of most pollutants for which the EPA has set national air quality standards have decreased in all regions of the state. 

Due in part to these significant reductions, 95 percent of Wisconsin’s population lives in areas meeting all federal air quality standards.

The state’s air quality improved along the Lake Michigan shoreline, an area historically impacted by elevated ozone concentrations. The lakeshore areas have experienced an average reduction in ground-level ozone concentrations of 25 percent since 2001. Several lakeshore areas are now meeting federal ozone standards, including parts of Door and Sheboygan counties.

The report also shows that air pollutant emissions in Wisconsin decreased substantially from 2002 to 2017. Some highlights include a 63 percent drop in nitrogen oxide emissions, an 89 percent drop in sulfur dioxide emissions and a nearly 60 percent reduction in carbon monoxide emissions. 

The Wisconsin DNR Air Program attributes the decrease in pollutant concentrations to the implementation of pollution control programs that led to cleaner, more efficient fuel combustion from vehicles and electric utilities. 

“State and federal air pollution control programs, as well as voluntary actions taken by companies and citizens, are responsible for the improvements in air quality in Wisconsin,” said Gail Good, director of the state’s air program. “The Air Management Program will continue to work with our partners to study and resolve remaining air quality concerns.”

See the report here: 

Current air quality conditions can be found here: 


# DNR Forms New Team To Address PFAS Contamination In Marinette Area

# In Madison Visit, Deborah Birx Urges More Testing Of COVID-19 ‘Silent Spreaders’

# Plans Still a Go for 2021 Farm Tech Show in Eau Claire Co.



– Wisconsin Ranks Second Nationally for Organic Farming 

– Heavy Carcass Weights Still a Burden on Beef Markets 


– MATC meat cutting program sees record enrollment thanks to interest in local foods 


– Update On EPA Smog Regulations And Sheboygan Contamination 

– USDA Announces $2.8 Million to Combat Chronic Wasting Disease 


– COVID-19 cases jump among Wisconsin’s American Indians 


– Unemployment claims are down, but many workers lower expectations 


– Foxconn’s Next Challenge: Fulfill Promises Made To Racine County Taxpayers 


– Amid COVID-19 surge, GOP lawmakers, including health chairman, attend indoor mass gathering 


– No fans inside, only a smattering outside for Wisconsin Badgers home opener 


– Apple, Google and a deal that controls the Internet 


– Marcus Center launches $9 million campaign to offset losses, support facility upgrades 


– Milwaukee airport passengers down more than 60% for the year 


– Gale Klappa agrees to stay at WEC Energy Group into 2024 


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