TUE AM News: Polk County official may revisit CAFO restrictions; Estrigenix Therapeutics develops hot flash treatment that minimizes cancer risk

— A Polk County official who last week withdrew a resolution regulating large farms says public health concerns may lead her to revisit the topic.

Amy Middleton, who represents a Polk County district that borders the St. Croix River and Minnesota, authored the resolution to regulate CAFOs. CAFO stands for concentrated animal feeding operation and includes farms with at least 1,000 animal units. 

The day before Middleton withdrew her resolution, the Dairy Business Association and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative sent a letter to Polk County officials pushing back against the anti-CAFO resolution and urging collaboration with farmers.

Dresser-native Middleton said pushback from agricultural business groups didn’t and wouldn’t have swayed her.

“It had more to do with — I felt more comfortable that the committee would be able to address public health issues and as we move forward in the operation ordinance — the public health piece we were able to make sure is in there,” she said. “It was kind of written to make sure we got to make sure public health is part of the three-legged stool: environmental, zoning and health.”

DBA Director of Government Affairs John Holevoet said he imagines many members of the county board heard concerns from constituents over the resolution, which he said is “putting the cart before the horse.”

“Really the discussion isn’t what we do to regulate right now, it’s more about identifying the issues that we might have working with our constituent farmers to try and find solutions to those problems if they exist,” he said.

Holevoet told WisBusiness.com he expects more discussions about larger farms in Polk County given that this is the second proposal in the last six months regarding CAFOs. 

“I really do think that the best chance they have for success when it comes to addressing any water quality concerns or other land use issues … is actual engagement with their local farmers,” Holevoet said. 

Middleton has been a supervisor since August. With the resolution, she said she was trying to get a feel for what Polk County is doing from a public health standpoint of a CAFO. 

“I just wanted to encourage and show how we have an association of public health officials that there’s a body of public health behind concerns around these large factory farms,” she said.

Middleton said she would talk to colleagues and constituents as she considers a path forward.

“I may introduce something later,” she said. “I want to hear from some other supervisors, I always listen to the citizens, the farmers in our area. I potentially will have something.”

The resolution was in tandem with a previous conditional use permit process that passed Sept. 15 to regulate swine CAFOs. A moratorium on large hog farms was going on as well but was turned down by the board after facing threats of legal action from Venture Dairy Cooperative, Wisconsin Dairy Alliance and the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

Middleton said issues regarding CAFOs in Polk County in the northern part of the state are an emerging issue. She pointed to the swine operations that are aggressively working to rebuild China’s hog herds that have been lost to the African swine fever. She questions what will happen to the infrastructure developed from putting up those farms once the herds are back.

“I just think this whole CAFO, for sure in the northern part of the state, is kind of an emerging issue,” she said. “It’s just interesting that all of a sudden Polk County is part of this global food network.”

See the withdrawn resolution: https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.dairyforward.com/resource/resmgr/documents/polk_county_resolution_-_nov.pdf 

See the DBA letter: https://www.dairyforward.com/news/538226/DBA-Edge-dairy-groups-push-back-on-anti-CAFO- 

— USDA reporters noted that many farmers were winding down work for the season, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Rain and snowmelt raised grain moistures and softened fields, however, stalling progress by the end of the week and giving farmers 4.4 days suitable for fieldwork. And temperatures fell from the previous week — daytime highs swung from the 70s down to the 30s while lows fell into the teens on some nights. 

The soybean harvest was almost complete in most areas. Soybean harvest was 98 percent complete, more than four weeks ahead of last year and 23 days ahead of the five-year average. 

Corn harvest was nearing completion as well. Corn for grain harvest was 87 percent complete, more than four weeks ahead of last year and 16 days ahead of the average. The moisture content of corn harvested for grain was reported at 18 percent.

Farmers in some areas may need to wait for muddy fields to freeze before they can get to the last of their corn. Soybean straw and corn stalks were being baled for bedding. 

Fall planted crops and hay stands were looking good after the previous week’s warm spell. Ninety-three percent of winter wheat was emerged, more than four weeks ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of the average. Winter wheat condition rated 82 percent good to excellent statewide, down two percentage points from last week. 

Fall tillage and manure spreading were ahead of schedule. Fall tillage was reported as 68 percent complete, more than four weeks ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of the average.

— Wisconsin reported 12 new deaths among confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 2,649 and marking 320 deaths since Nov. 6. 

By comparison, the week leading up to Nov. 6 saw 279 deaths.

People ages 70-79 and 80-89 with confirmed cases together account for 56 percent of the state’s deaths at 672 and 809 deaths, respectively. The age groups had an increase of 84 and 101 deaths, respectively, over the past seven days.

The state has not experienced a COVID-19 death in anyone under 20 years old.

Meanwhile, the seven-day average for daily deaths due to the virus remains at a record 46 deaths per day. One month ago, the average was 19 deaths per day. Two months ago, it was six.

Wisconsin reported 4,389 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the seven-day average for daily confirmed cases up four from Sunday to 6,426.

On Nov. 6, the seven-day average was at 5,639 cases per day. The record, hit Friday, is 6,442 cases per day.

The latest Wisconsin Hospital Association coronavirus update shows 178 more people hospitalized due to COVID-19 over Sunday. That brings the census to a record 2,274 with a record 456 intensive care patients.

The Alternate Care Facility at State Fair Park census is at 19 coronavirus patients. The largest census since it opened Oct. 14 was Saturday with 20 patients. The West Allis field hospital, an overflow facility for hospitals statewide, was ready to accept 50 patients when it opened.

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— The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by a Waukesha County businessman challenging Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate. 

The debate is over whether the COVID-19 pandemic represents one continuous public health emergency that limits the guv’s powers without legislative approval or an ongoing disaster that allows him to issue multiple orders.

A ruling in the case could strike down the second mask mandate Evers issued this fall that ends Saturday. It also could further shape the boundaries of his powers to deal with a public health crisis after the court’s conservative majority in May struck down the extended stay-at-home order his Health Services secretary issued.

Attorney Matthew Fernholz represented Waukesha businessman Jere Fabick, who challenged the second mask mandate. He argued Evers had the power to issue the initial public health emergency, but said once the 60-day window for that order expired, he needed to seek legislative approval to extend it. Because he failed to obtain that authority, Fernholz argued, he exceeded his authority in issuing the mask mandate.

Several of the court’s liberal justices peppered Fernholz yesterday with questions about his positions. That includes Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, who questioned whether Fernholz believed Evers would have the power to issue new orders if the pandemic was controlled or eradicated only to flare up again in two years. She asked if Evers would need to get legislative approval to deal with that delayed recurrence.

Fernholz countered the pandemic has been a single occurrence and no one would argue it had been eradicated or controlled since the first public health emergency was declared.

Evers issued two subsequent public health emergencies, including in July and September. Those orders served as the foundation for the mask mandates he’s issued. The second mask mandate expires on Saturday.

“The problem for the governor is it met the definition in March, it met it in July and it met it in September,” Fernholz said. “For him to issue those second and third emergency order declarations, he needed approval from the Legislature, and he didn’t receive it.”

Justice Rebecca Dallet pressed Fernholz if Evers would have the authority to declare an emergency because hospitals were being overrun as they are now.

Fernholz answered Evers would only have the power for a targeted order such as dealing with a short supply of hospital equipment, but not a broad order, such as the one Evers issued as the foundation for his mask mandates.

— Assistant Attorney General Hannah Schieber Jurss compared the ongoing pandemic to the threat of war.

She argued Fabick, who brought the suit, was arguing once the guv issued any public health emergency, he needed the Legislature’s approval for further action once the 60-day window expired. Rather than a “one-and-done” approach that Fabick was advocating, Jurss argued the Legislature intended for the guv to have the power to issue multiple orders originating from the same disaster or occurrence.

“I think we would all agree that emergency conditions exist in March and emergency conditions exist in September even though those conditions are caused by the same enemy and even though the war may not have ended in the middle, and the same is true here,” Jurss said.

— A recently founded therapeutic company has re-invented estrogen treatment to target hot flashes in menopausal women without the risk of post-treatment health issues.

Hot flashes — a sudden feeling of warmth in the upper body that might be accompanied by reddening or sweating — is a common symptom of menopause. But not all women seek treatment for menopausal symptoms due to possible health issues, such as cancer or stroke, from treatment or hormone therapy, according to Estrigenix Therapeutics. 

Estrigenix Vice President for Business Development Dr. Daniel Sem participated in a National Science Foundation program in which he interviewed menopausal women and found that “about 50 percent of the women’s biggest worry is hot flashes,” adding that “some women with breast cancer family history expressed even greater worry.” 

Estrigenix Therapeutics can eliminate those negative consequences for menopausal women. 

Estrigenix says its treatment includes a molecule that outdoes its competitors in effectiveness and in safety. The company says its molecule has a high “selectivity number,” which means it does well at treating hot flashes while avoiding the potential downside of cancer cell proliferation.

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/estrigenix-therapeutics-develops-hot-flash-treatment-that-minimizes-cancer-risk/ 

— The PSC will be awarding $7 million for energy-related projects.

The commission is holding an informational webinar for the grant program on Thursday.

The 2020 Energy Innovation Grant Program provides dollars for innovative energy projects that reduce energy consumption, increase clean energy and transportation technologies, bolster preparedness and resiliency in the energy system and incorporate comprehensive energy planning.

Applications for this grant cycle are due on Jan. 22. 

See more information about the program and apply for the grant here: https://psc.wi.gov/Pages/Programs/OEI/EnergyInnovationGrantProgram.aspx 

Register for the webinar, hosted by PSC’s Office of Energy Innovation: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5500346911147178508  


# UW-Madison’s patent-licensing arm must pay at least $32 million to ex-research partner 


# With no fans this season, here’s an estimate of how much revenue the Green Bay Packers could lose 


# Children’s Wisconsin prepares to accept adult patients this week 



– Economist says COVID is raising fluid milk consumption https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/economist-says-covid-is-raising-fluid-milk-consumption/ 

– Another lawsuit claims ADM manipulated ethanol prices https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/another-lawsuit-claims-adm-manipulated-ethanol-prices/ 

– Fed Survey: Wisconsin Farmland Values Trending Higher http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=1222&yr=2020 


– Michels expands marine construction arm at Port Milwaukee https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/16/michels-expands-marine-construction-arm-at-port.html 


– Colleges seek financial boost from adult students despite troubling trends https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/16/colleges-turn-their-attention-to-potential-revenue.html 


– These SBA lenders gave Wisconsin firms the most 7(a) loans in FY20 https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/16/these-sba-lenders-gave-wisconsin-firms-the-most.html 


– Advocate Aurora to scale back elective procedures https://biztimes.com/advocate-aurora-to-scale-back-elective-procedures/ 

– Doctors are calling it quits under stress of the pandemic https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/16/doctors-are-calling-it-quits-under-stress.html 


– Milwaukee Art Museum workers vote to unionize https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/16/milwaukee-art-museum-workers-join.html 


– Harley-backed Serial 1 unveils its first eBicycle lineup and pricing https://biztimes.com/harley-backed-serial-1-unveils-its-first-ebicycle-lineup-and-pricing/ 


– Several Milwaukee companies to be featured on CNBC show “Advancements with Ted Danson” https://biztimes.com/several-milwaukee-companies-to-be-featured-on-cnbcs-advancements-with-ted-danson/ 

– Trump Campaign Lawsuit Against Northwoods TV Station Dismissed https://www.wpr.org/trump-campaign-lawsuit-against-northwoods-tv-station-dismissed 


– Wisconsin presidential recount would cost Trump $7.9 million https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-joe-biden-donald-trump-madison-wisconsin-a507baa9d15dce2a8a8d42c0837bd089

– WILL study: Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases https://madison.com/ct/news/local/education/local_schools/will-study-unions-political-affiliation-more-predictive-of-virtual-learning-decision-than-covid-cases/article_5d94c9db-cdf1-5ab6-b879-d9b40bed0117.html


– Milwaukee Considers Raising Fine To $20K For COVID-19 Violators https://www.wpr.org/milwaukee-considers-raising-fine-20k-covid-19-violators 


– Southridge Mall owner turning over property to lenders https://biztimes.com/southridge-mall-owner-turning-over-property-to-lenders/ 


– Deer Hunters Reminded To Select Farmland Zone Harvest Authorizations And Register Harvest https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/11/16/deer-hunters-reminded-to-select-farmland-zone-harvest-authorizations-and-register-harvest/ 


– The hot new Covid tech is wearable and constantly tracks you https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/16/the-hot-new-covid-tech-is-wearable.html 


– Pewaukee solar power builder SunVest grows with $50M capital investment https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/16/pewaukee-solar-power-firm-sinvest-grows-with-50m.html 


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