TUE AM News: U.S.-EU agreement on steel and aluminum tariffs expected to reduce prices for manufacturers; Initial planning underway for pediatric COVID-19 vaccine rollout

— Manufacturing groups say the agreement between the United States and European Union to ease tariffs on steel and aluminum will help reduce prices for the industry. 

The Biden administration announced over the weekend that it had reached a deal with the EU in hopes of addressing supply chain issues and lowering the cost of certain goods. Federal officials reportedly said the agreement would retain steel and aluminum tariffs on European nations while allowing limited volumes of these metals produced in the EU into the United States without tariffs. 

Tim Wiora, executive director and CEO of WMEP Manufacturing Solutions in Madison, says the agreement is expected to “help ease prices and stabilize them for some types of steel.” He said the move “will help, but is not the final answer,” as continued trade issues with China are having a more significant impact on manufacturers in Wisconsin. 

The Milwaukee-based Association of Equipment Manufacturers says it welcomes the agreement, arguing the steel and aluminum tariffs have harmed the U.S. economy by increasing the price of production for agriculture and construction equipment and costing the industry thousands of jobs. 

“This new agreement will help address steel shortages and soaring prices that have hurt

equipment manufacturers, while also addressing overcapacity from China and preventing leakage of Chinese steel into the U.S. market,” said Dennis Slater, president of the international trade group. “We hope that both sides will build on the momentum from today’s agreement to remove the remaining obstacles to free and fair trade.”

Slater says Biden deserves “a lot of credit” for reaching an agreement that “while not perfect, goes a long way in restoring free and fair trade across the Atlantic.” 

Along with easing U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum from the EU, the agreement will also reportedly resolve retaliatory tariffs imposed by the EU on U.S. products including bourbon and motorcycles. 

Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president and CEO of Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson, calls the agreement a “big win” for the company and its customers, employees and dealers in Europe. 

“We are excited that this brings an end to a conflict that was not of our making, and in which Harley-Davidson had no place,” he said in a statement. “This is an important course correction in U.S.-EU trade relations that will allow us to further Harley-Davidson’s position as the most desirable motorcycle brand in the world.”

See the release from AEM: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2021/association-of-equipment-manufacturers-hails-u-s-eu-agreement-on-steel-and-aluminum-tariffs/ 

See the Harley-Davidson statement: https://investor.harley-davidson.com/news-releases/news-release-details/statement-harley-davidson-eu-tariff-resolution 

— As a CDC advisory committee prepares to discuss COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5-11, planning is underway in Wisconsin. 

“We are working with doctors and pediatricians across the state, as well as other vaccinators to assess their readiness to serve this population, and are reinforcing the systems required to ensure the equitable distribution of pediatric vaccine across the state,” Department of Health Services spokesperson Elizabeth Goodsitt said in an email.

The FDA recently authorized a Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for kids in this age group. DHS says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting today to discuss details for the potential vaccine rollout. 

Meanwhile, Goodsitt says community-based vaccination sites run by DHS will be prepared to vaccinate children once the vaccine is available. The agency is encouraging schools that are interested in hosting vaccine clinics as well as other organizations and employers to reach out to their local health department “to be connected with a vaccinator that can host a clinic for youth and families.”

Goodsitt also explained the federal government has begun a temporary pre-order process for the initial rollout, in which vaccinators have been able to request the pediatric Pfizer vaccine since Oct. 20. Wisconsin’s initial allocation is 171,900 doses, she said. 

Vaccinators will also be able to order additional pediatric vaccine doses in the coming weeks, she added. 

— Dane County’s health department has announced its indoor mask requirement is being extended through Nov. 27, though officials don’t expect to extend it again. 

The latest emergency order from Public Health Madison and Dane County Health Officer Janel Heinrich will go into effect Friday, when the prior order was due to expire. 

“Following 22 days, this order will expire and at this point in time, Public Health Madison & Dane County does not plan to replace it with any other mask requirements,” the agency said in a release. 

In a statement, Heinrich says the decision “comes as a result of decreasing case rates, increasing vaccination rates and the expansion of eligibility for booster doses which will only help strengthen our collective immunity.” 

The extension comes after Dane County’s level of community transmission was recently downgraded by the CDC from “high” to “substantial.” 

The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce says the “clarity on the end date is welcomed,” though “it remains unclear” how PHMDC is determining the need for the orders. 

“Businesses are not — and have not — been a source of significant COVID spread, and the hard work, thoughtfulness and innovation of our business community are a major factor behind Dane County having the lowest transmission and highest vaccination rates in Wisconsin,” the chamber said in an email. 

See more on the mask order extension here: https://www.cityofmadison.com/news/face-covering-emergency-order-extension 

— Dems Sen. Kelda Roys and Rep. Jodi Emerson have announced a bill requiring insurance to cover fertility treatment and procedures.

The Building Families Act would require insurance cover diagnosis of and treatment for infertility and standard fertility preservation services, such as in vitro fertilization. Roys, D-Madison, during a virtual press conference said the bill would reduce the number of multiple birth events such as twins and triplets, which put mothers at greater risk when giving birth.

Roys in a virtual event said some parents fighting fertility issues work toward twins or more because implanting multiple embryos during one IVF cycle costs less than multiple IVF cycles with only one embryo implanted each.

“We know for so many people costs are a huge barrier to accessing infertility treatment because the costs are exorbitant; it’s very expensive to get this kind of treatment,” she said. “And most patients end up having to pay out of pocket, which means that it’s only available to families that have the means.”

She added the measure would especially help Black women fight infertility issues and improve the infant mortality rate for Black Wisconsinites.

“Wisconsin already has the highest Black infant mortality rate in the nation,” she said. “We need to do much more to support Black parents and Black families to be healthy.”

See the release:

Watch the virtual event:


— Sun Prairie is getting a $250,000 grant from WEDC for the redevelopment of a downtown property that will include apartments and the new site for Glass Nickel Pizza. 

The original Glass Nickel Pizza building in Sun Prairie was destroyed in 2018 when a natural gas line ruptured, heavily damaging other downtown buildings as well. Owner Adam Bougie had to relocate his business away from downtown and move to a takeout-only menu in the wake of the incident. 

“A lot of people have been rooting for us, which has been great,” he said in a release from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. “I’m looking forward to having people dine in and seeing the regulars again.”

The Bougie Building will be a three-story mixed-use building with the pizza restaurant on the first floor. It’s estimated to be completed midway through next year. WEDC estimates the restaurant reopening will create 11 full-time jobs and 15 part-time jobs. 

The $250,000 WEDC grant is coming from the agency’s Community Development Investment Grant program. 

See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2021/wisconsin-economic-development-corporation-city-of-sun-prairie-receives-250000-state-grant-to-support-redevelopment-of-downtown-property/ 

— This week’s USDA crop report shows harvesting of corn and soybeans continues ahead of the normal pace. 

Sixty-one percent of grain corn was harvested as of Sunday, which is three days ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of the five-year average. And 84 percent of soybeans were harvested, which is seven days behind last year but six days ahead of the average, the report shows. 

Meanwhile, fall tillage and winter wheat growth are also proceeding more quickly than normal. Fall tillage was 52 percent complete, three days ahead of last year and 12 days ahead of the five-year average. Winter wheat is 97 percent planted, and 85 percent has emerged, which is six days ahead of last year and more than two weeks ahead of the average. 

See the report: https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Wisconsin/Publications/Crop_Progress_&_Condition/2021/WI-Crop-Progress-11-01-21.pdf 

— Public Service Commission member Tyler Huebner has been elected as executive committee secretary for the Organization of MISO States. 

This 17-member board includes one commissioner from each retail jurisdiction in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator area and functions as the regional state committee for the regional energy transmission organization. 

Huebner has been the state’s commissioner delegate for OMS since March, a release from the organization shows. OMS represents the position of member agencies in proceedings held before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and also makes recommendations to MISO and its board of directors. 

See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2021/psc-commissioner-huebner-elected-to-oms-leadership-position/ 


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