WED AM News: UW economist doesn’t blame government regulations for economic slowdown; Watershed protection grant applications are open

— Applications for the Producer-Led Watershed Protection grant program are due to DATCP by Sept. 21. 

Grants of up to $40,000 each year in matching funds are awarded to groups of at least five farmers whose farms are in the same watershed. 

Each farm must have produced at least $6,000 in gross farm revenue last year or $18,000 over the past three years. Each group must partner with either a county land conservation committee, the Wisconsin DNR, UW-Madison Extension or a nonprofit conservation organization. 

“With the increased funding provided in the 2019-2021 biennial state budget, more producer-led groups have the opportunity to build their current network or start a new one,” said DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski. “With greater opportunity for more groups to receive grant funding, Wisconsin’s agricultural producers can continue to help lead conservation innovation in their own industry and their own communities.”

Grant funds cannot pay for real estate, loans, equipment purchases or lobbying.

Apply at 

See the release:

— UW-Madison economist Noah Williams said it would be inaccurate to blame government regulation for the economic slowdown that’s accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Economic activity started falling early in March, before there were any restrictions in place,” Williams said. “What the lockdowns essentially did was keep that activity at a very low level. Things deteriorated much more quickly than people expected.”

Williams, speaking to the Milwaukee Rotary Club, said Wisconsin’s hopes for a so-called “V-shaped recovery,” with a rapid return to normalcy coming on the heels of a rapid slowdown, were largely dashed along with the nation’s.

Consumption and sales have rebounded relatively quickly, but unemployment is still very high. Williams said that about one-third to 40 percent of the spring’s layoffs are turning out to be permanent.

He forecast the decline in GDP at about 35 percent.

Overall, Wisconsin has fared similarly to the rest of the nation, with serious depression in the leisure and hospitality industry, the beginnings of an employment uptick, and significant pivots to online retail rather than brick-and-mortar.

Read the full story at

— Dane County approved $18,513 in grants through the Dane County Environmental Council’s Community Partners and Capital Equipment programs.

“Through these partnerships, we are able to continue improving and conserving the county’s outdoor spaces, while also creating opportunities to educate and inspire the next generation to care for our natural resources,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

The grants will fund 19 conservation, restoration and education projects across the county. All of the projects must take place in Dane County and provide a benefit to the county’s natural resources and residents. 

Funding for the grants is through the Dane County’s Land and Water Legacy Initiative and donations from local businesses. Grant recipients also match the funds in order to complete their projects.

See the full listing of grant recipients in the release: 

— Skyward, the Stevens Point administrative software provider,  launched a new COVID-19 self-screening survey to assist districts in keeping schools virus-free this upcoming school year. 

Set to roll out mid-August for the start of school, the survey will help verify that people entering schools are free of coronavirus symptoms. The self-screening survey will ask two yes or no questions: are you experiencing symptoms; and have you had any close contact with a suspected confirmed case of COVID-19?

If the answer is “no” for both questions, the individual will receive confirmation to enter the school building. If an answer is “yes”, the individual will receive a message to attend school or enter the building. The messaging and instructions can be customized by the district. 

The survey will be free for Skyward’s SMS 2.0 and Qmlativ customers. It will be available for parents or guardians, students and staff to access via their respective portals on the Skyward app.

“The pandemic is tasking many districts with finding a solution that assists in monitoring that staff and students are healthy,” said Scott Glinski, Skyward CEO. “Skyward’s self-screening tool will make it a bit easier to screen each person prior to entering a building, as per state recommendations.”

— Rockline Industries, headquartered in Sheboygan, donated disinfecting wipes to hospitals in four states including Wisconsin and overseas.

The health care facilities are located in areas that house high numbers of essential manufacturing businesses including Rockline’s production facilities.

“Hospitals continue to struggle to find personal protective equipment and products like disinfecting wipes that are critical to maintaining safe environments and slowing the spread of the Coronavirus,” said Ron Kerscher, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Rockline.

The hospitals that received the disinfecting wipes are located in Springdale, Russellville and Booneville, Ark.; Sheboygan; Morristown, Tenn.; Patterson, N.J.; and the United Kingdom. 

— The state has hit a new daily COVID-19 case record with 1,117 new cases, bringing the seven-day average to 890.

The percentage of positive tests per total tests is 7.7 percent, down from 10.1 percent Monday, according to the Department of Health Services’ data dashboard.

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 44,135 and active cases to 9,369 or 21.2 percent of total cases, a figure that continues to rise.

“The trend is going in the wrong direction,” Stephanie Smiley, interim administrator for the DHS Division of Public Health said during a briefing. “I think that it is a cause for concern. We want to see decreases in the number of cases each day.” 

She added that social gatherings like parties or bars are “continuing to be the drivers” of the increase in cases. 

People ages 20-29 account for 26 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases, ahead of people ages 30-39 at 17 percent. However, each of those age groups account for just 1 percent of the state’s deaths.

The number of recovered patients number 33,902 or 76.8 percent, while 1.9 percent of patients have died. Active cases are defined as those still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis.

The state received 14,488 total tests today; Wisconsin has a capacity for 24,162 tests per day.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: 

— Smiley said wearing face coverings and physical distancing are still the two best tools to combat the spread of COVID-19

Smiley recommended people continue to “stay home as much as possible,” wear masks, wash hands and social distance in order to lower the curve of positive cases. 

“We have very few tools that are available to us in order to really slow the spread of this disease,” she said. “And one of the ways to do that really is by wearing a cloth face covering and physical distancing.” 

She called wearing masks “the responsible thing” for people to both protect themselves and their community. But Smiley added distancing and mask policy decisions in Wisconsin are up to local governments, not the state.

Additionally, Smiley said it’s difficult to compare pandemic numbers now to those back in March due to the boost in data and tools since that time. But she said pandemic activity now is “definitely high,” and most likely higher than during Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order closing schools and many businesses. 

“When things were shut down you can imagine that the activity was much lower,” she said. “We had at least much lower spread that we were able to record. It was a different time, and we’re definitely seeing higher disease activity now than in March.” 

— DHS reports 13 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 859.

That’s the highest in one day since June 20. Milwaukee County reported five new deaths, Racine County added three, Waukesha County had two, while Forest, Rock, Sheboygan and Waupaca counties reported one new COVID-19 death. Dodge County removed one death from its count.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (416), Racine (69), Kenosha (47), Brown (46), Waukesha (42), Dane (33), Rock (25), Washington (19), Walworth (18), Ozaukee (16), Grant (14), Waupaca (14), Winnebago (14), Outagamie (10), Clark (7), Fond du Lac (6), Dodge (5), Sheboygan (5), Forest (4), Jefferson (4) and Richland (4).

Door, Marathon, Marinette and Sauk counties report three deaths each. Adams, Buffalo, Calumet, Eau Claire, Polk and St. Croix counties report two deaths each.

Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Columbia, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Kewaunee, LaCrosse, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marquette, Monroe, Rusk, Trempealeau and Wood counties report one death each.

Southeastern Wisconsin experienced 73 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. People ages 70-79 and 80-89 each account for 25 percent of deaths, but only 9 percent and 4 percent, respectively, of the state’s confirmed cases. 


# Current and former state and local leaders launching effort to boost absentee voting, make polling locations safe

# Packers CEO Says Home Games Could See As Few as 10,000-12,000 Fans At Lambeau, If Any

# Court approves financing for Briggs, how did it come to this and now what? 



– June milk production up 0.5% on the year 

– Waupaca County Fair Canceled 


– Schools Across Wisconsin Debate Reopening Or Going Virtual In The Fall 


– EPA Signs Off On Standards To Reduce Phosphorus Pollution In The Wisconsin River Basin 

– Carnivorous Plant Last Seen 40 Years Ago Among Finds by Rare Plant Detectives 


– Small-business stimulus and second PPP loan at stake as Congress braces for ‘all-out sprint’ 


– Charges filed in sexual assault case linked to Madison’s Calvary Gospel Church

– Federal suit over local Wisconsin COVID-19 orders dismissed


– Attorney for Briggs’ largest unsecured creditor questions plan to sell

– Briggs & Stratton’s local impact runs deeper than its headquarters 


– ACBJ, Advantage Media Group to launch Business Journals Books 


– Biden launches wide battleground push with ads, surrogates


– After record year for income, Packers brace for revenue hit 

– Don’t expect tailgating Miller Park when Brewers season begins 


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