MON AM News: Crave Brothers Farm highlights manure digester ahead of Earth Day; Milwaukee health official concerned about vaccine hesitancy

— A manure digester at Crave Brothers Farm in Waterloo produces electricity for the township and bedding for the cattle. It also reduces methane emissions.

Tom Crave says his family’s dairy farm is leading the way in sustainability by operating at 100 percent green power. Since adding a manure digester in 2006, the 2,200-cow farm is producing enough electricity for farm operations, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese and the roughly 300 homes in the township. 

Crave, the president-emeritus of the Dairy Business Association, said he thinks every farm has a role in protecting the environment. 

“They have to look in the mirror and realize it,” he said. “We all can improve on being more environmentally friendly or sustainable. We’ve decided to go this way.”

All the manure from the 3,600 head of cattle on-site goes into two 750,000-gallon tanks. Those tanks imitate a cow’s stomach at 101 degrees. At that temperature, it further digests and ferments the animal waste. In that process, methane gas rises to the top of the tanks like a big bubble or balloon. It’s taken off of the top and burned to run a generator that makes electricity. The exhaust heats those tanks. 

But the manure digester doesn’t get rid of the manure. The soggy, leftover waste is squeezed to produce a solid and a liquid byproduct. The solid byproduct is dried to resemble peat moss. It’s soft and sweet-smelling and used as animal bedding. 

The liquid is pumped into a lagoon on the farm and used as organic fertilizer on the farm’s 3,000 acres. 

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— Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said she’s concerned about vaccine hesitancy after the pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccinations. 

“I am concerned. As the FDA does their review, as the CDC makes some more decisions around it, I think that will help. I don’t think they’re going to stop J&J in its entirety; I think they’re just going to identify that it’s more appropriate for a specific population,” Johnson told a virtual Milwaukee Press Club- event on Friday. 

The CDC’s investigation and refining of the vaccine shows that the scientific process is working and that the federal agencies are monitoring the vaccination rollout, she added. She said she thinks that will also help with vaccine hesitancy. 

The federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Friday extended the pause on administering the Johnson & Johnson shot. The committee recommended continuing the pause while the CDC collects more information about the link between the shot and a rare and severe blood clotting.

The CDC and FDA reported six cases of the rare blood clotting condition out of some 7 million Johnson & Johnson doses given. One woman died. None of those cases was in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has administered about 156,000 Johnson & Johnson doses.

Johnson, who was confirmed to her position in February, said after vaccinating the first 30 percent of people who were eager to get vaccinated, this pause could inhibit vaccinating another 30 percent of people who are more hesitant to get a COVID-19 shot.

The Milwaukee Health Department has an ambassador program funded by federal dollars. It allows for one-on-one counseling with community health workers, which Johnson said will help tackle vaccine hesitancy.

Watch the luncheon: 

— Milwaukee’s COVID-19 levels are increasing, but Johnson says there’s no need for putting in place more restrictions on activity.

Milwaukee’s positive case percentage per total tests is 5.6 percent, which is above the desired 5 percent threshold. In addition, the county’s case burden is over 100 cases per 100,000 population, putting it in a “high” disease burden for the past two weeks. Its case trajectory is also growing, according to the Department of Health Services. 

Johnson estimated that more than 50 percent of the new COVID-19 cases are one of the variants.

Currently, businesses that want a larger capacity than local orders can apply by submitting a health safety plan. The vast majority of businesses in Milwaukee have safety plans in place that allow operations at different levels of capacity, according to Johnson.

“I can’t imagine, short of something similar to what’s happening in Michigan happening in Wisconsin, us having to dial back anyone’s safety plan that’s in place,” she said.

At the same time, Johnson, who attended MLB opening day at American Family Field, said Milwaukee is in no position to allow larger capacities. Both the Brewers and the Milwaukee Bucks want more fans in their stadiums.

“I understand, too, the economic impact. … These are large employers in our community, and that has an impact. When we don’t allow them to have more fans, they can’t have as many staff,” she said. “From a safety perspective right now we can’t allow them to open any further.”

She said the cases are creeping up slowly — not spiking — and she anticipates the vaccine will slow that down.

“I don’t think it warrants to put more restrictive orders in place right now,” she said.

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— Canndigenous is the first Native American-owned CBD company to launch in Wisconsin.

The organic hemp farm and retail location was founded by Rob Pero of the Bad River Tribe. The American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin provided mentorship in developing the business.

Cannabidiol or CBD is believed to provide health benefits, such as helping with anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain. After the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which allows farms to grow hemp for the purpose of extracting CBD, Pero saw an opportunity to use CBD for the betterment of his Indigenous relatives. 

Native Americans have historically experienced disproportionate levels of socio-economic challenges versus the greater population, such as lower median incomes, greater instances of substance abuse and limited access to mental health support, according to Canndigenous’ release. Canndigenous seeks to employ Indigenous people and provide an alternative medicinal product.

— “Dealing with China,” a panel discussion on U.S.-China relations under the Biden administration, will be held virtually from noon to 1 p.m. on April 27. 

It is being produced by in partnership with the Wisconsin Technology Council.

Participants the discussion, which will focus on national security, economics and higher education, will be: U.S. Rep. Kind, D-La Crosse, U.S. Rep. Gallagher, R-Green Bay, Bonnie S. Glaser, director of the Asia program for The German Marshall Fund of the United States, and Steve Ackerman, the vice chancellor for research and graduate education at UW-Madison.

Register here: 


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– Automated ag equipment maker from Illinois sets up shop in South Milwaukee’s former Bucyrus campus 

– Industry Applauds USDA’s New Dairy Donation Program 

– Potato Growers On Board 

– Livestock markets look towards grilling season for increased demand 


– Wood From Forest Products Laboratory In Madison Used For US Capitol Repairs 


– Access To 4K Remains High In Wisconsin, But Pandemic Hit Enrollment Hard 


– Proposal To Bottle, Sell Water From Well Near Lake Superior Highlights Fears Over Water Diversions 


– Suspect In Custody In Kenosha-Area Bar Shooting That Killed 3 


– Wisconsin Center District extends CEO Brooks’ contract, will end furloughs, restore pay 


– Marini Manufacturing acquires Accu-Turn 


– State Senate Approves GOP Stimulus Spending Plan 


– GMR founder Reynolds’ new venture brings podcasting technology to internal communications 


– Milwaukee-based PAXAFE raises $2.25 million 


– Milwaukee Public Museum eyes $150 million fundraising campaign for new home 

– Tour of America’s Dairyland moves forward with 2021 series 


– Amazon investing $13M in Pewaukee delivery center with more than 130 jobs 


– US Rep. Moore Hopeful Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Will Help Solve Milwaukee’s Lead Pipe Problem 


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

– DHS: Federal review extended for Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

– VDLFA: Citizenship for essential workers and families

– Canndigenous: Wisconsin’s first Native American owned hemp company launches “in a good way”

– ‘Dealing with China’ will launch series on trade topic with