WED AM News: Dairy farmers applaud USTR for USMCA enforcement measures; GOP, biz owners support bill ending federal UI bonus

— Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative is applauding Trade Representative Katherine Tai for challenging Canada over its allocation of tariff-related quotas for dairy products. 

Tai yesterday said the U.S. has requested and established a dispute settlement panel under the USMCA to review measures adopted by Canada that are said to undermine the ability of American dairy exporters to sell products to Canadian consumers. The measures allow Canada to impose higher tariffs on imports over a certain quantity for milk, cheese, skim milk powders and other dairy products.

“A top priority for the Biden-Harris administration is fully enforcing the USMCA and ensuring that it benefits American workers,” Tai said in a statement. “Launching the first panel request under the agreement will ensure our dairy industry and its workers can seize new opportunities under the USMCA to market and sell U.S. products to Canadian consumers.”

Edge has aggressively pushed for the USTR’s enforcement action after the issue first arose last summer. 

“International trade is key to economic growth and stability for our dairy farmers and processors. That’s why additional market access into Canada is an important part of USMCA,” said Edge President Brody Stapel, a Wisconsin dairy farmer. “Edge and our farmers appreciate USTR’s commitment to holding Canada to the agreement and giving the U.S. dairy community greater export opportunities as intended.”

Read the full story at

— Senate Republicans and business owners said a bill to end a federal boost to unemployment benefits would help address the state’s worker shortage. 

In a Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform Committee public hearing, bill author Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said he’s heard plenty of anecdotal stories from constituents of people on unemployment who aren’t seriously looking for work because of the extra $300-per- week boost in payments from the federal COVID stimulus. 

The bill he introduced would require the Department of Workforce Development to end the state’s participation in the program. 

“This bill is a response to the feedback that I’ve heard all over my district,” he said. “You can argue that the supplement was needed at a point in time. But I believe the time for that supplement has elapsed.” 

Meanwhile, Dem Sen. LaTonya Johnson, of Milwaukee, argued that doing away with the UI boost wouldn’t actually solve anything. She said many regions that are struggling to find workers now struggled to find workers pre-COVID, too. 

“It would be wrong of us to say it’s the result of the extra $300 when some of these areas had a shortage of workers even before the pandemic,” she said. “I would like to see proof.” 

Additionally, Johnson said she had concerns that cutting the federal stimulus boost to unemployment benefits would harm parents who struggle to find proper child care as the pandemic hasn’t ended. 

But committee Chair Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, shot back that Gov. Tony Evers could use some of his $2.5 billion in COVID-19 relief aid to implement some kind of child care program should lawmakers end the additional unemployment benefits. 

Watch the hearing:  

— A device created by the team at Atrility Medical helps doctors caring for cardiac surgery patients to quickly and accurately recognize heart rhythm issues following surgery.

After heart surgery, irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias are common and can be difficult to diagnose. Arrhythmias can cause a range of symptoms including chest pain, dizziness and death in some cases.

With more than 400,000 heart surgeries taking place each year in the U.S. alone, Atrility Medical saw the need for a new device to better equip clinicians with the tools to diagnose arrhythmias in cardiac surgery patients.

Its product is AtriAmp, an FDA-cleared device that provides continuous heartbeat monitoring by measuring the electrical signals that cause the heart to beat. This information is displayed on a bedside monitor as an electrocardiogram, which is a graph of the patient’s heartbeat.

Essentially, AtriAmp acts as a “hub” between temporary wires connected to a patient’s heart at the time of surgery, a bedside monitor and if needed, a temporary pacemaker.

Read the full story at 

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— The DNR is seeking public input for a proposed Green Tier participation for Phillips-Medisize Oaklawn facility in Menomonie. 

Green Tier is a voluntary program for Wisconsin businesses in various industries throughout the state. Participating businesses minimize environmental risks of their work in exchange for some regulatory flexibility.

The Phillips-Medisize Oaklawn facility is an injection molding facility for plastic components and a partial assembly facility for medical and pharmaceutical delivery products. Future goals at the Oaklawn facility include reducing hazardous waste by 5 percent, reducing electrical consumption by 5 percent and reducing landfill waste by 10 percent.

Phillips-Medisize has a total of 11 Wisconsin facilities that currently participate in Green Tier. If accepted by the DNR, this application would allow the Oaklawn facility to join three other Phillips facilities located on the Menomonie campus which already participate in Tier 1.

The DNR welcomes written comments regarding this application from Phillips’ customers, neighbors, stakeholders and the public through June 22.

— The Madison Region Economic Partnership has selected Kathy Collins to serve as the organization’s vice president of economic development. 

Collins, who most recently spent six years as a director in UW-Madison’s Office of Business Engagement, will oversee site selection and attraction activities in her new role growing investment in the eight-county regional economy.

“This new role connects my work in biotech and innovation with my experience in commerce and rural business development,” she said. “I am especially excited about the organization’s commitment to strategic regional growth, ensuring all of our partners benefit from innovations in our cities and vice versa.”  

Collins has also worked at the Department of Commerce across a broad range of economic and community development programs, and prompted and advocated for the biotech industry with BioForward Wisconsin, a state trade association for biohealth. 

— ProHealth Care’s headquarters building in Pewaukee has been acquired by Dallas-based Mohr Capital, a privately held real estate investment firm.

ProHealth, which identifies as the largest health care provider between Milwaukee and Madison, has signed a long-term lease to solidify its occupancy through 2032. 

Mohr Capital’s acquisition marks its third investment in the Milwaukee metropolitan area — the firm also owns the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee ground lease and Ridgeview Business Center IV, which is occupied by U.S. Cellular.

— Bubble tea, donut topping dispenser and taco bar were the three winning ideas out of the Wisconsin Business World competition. 

Wisconsin Business World is a program of the WMC Foundation. In partnership with Kwik Trip, it announced the winners of the inaugural 2021 Spring Innovation and Production competitions for students in grades 6-12. 

Participants were tasked with developing and launching a new product that could be sold in the Kwik Trip stores, 

The winners of the Wisconsin Business World and Kwik Trip Innovation Competition are:

  • Hezekiah Punzel from Fox Valley Lutheran High School; winning idea: bubble tea
  • Kaitlyn Winningham from Merrill High School; winning idea: a donut topping dispenser
  • Tracy Bye, Bella Finch, and Dayne Hoff from La Crosse Logan High School; winning idea: taco bar

— Students could also choose to design a T-shirt and to develop a supply chain plan to distribute the apparel.

The winners of the Wisconsin Business World and Kwik Trip Production Competition are:

  • Jeeyoon-Becca Lee and Emma Liebzeit from Fox Valley Lutheran High School
  • Austin Kerbs and Adam Schmoeker from Fox Valley Lutheran High School
  • Aidan Nytes from Kimberly High School

The top three finalists/teams for each competition will receive a $500 cash prize.

— DATCP is encouraging Wisconsin companies to renew or join the Something Special from Wisconsin™ program during the membership renewal period. 

Renewal applications are due on June 30. New members can join at any time throughout the year. Nearly 450 companies are currently Something Special from Wisconsin™ members.

To be eligible for a SSfW membership, companies must certify that at least 50 percent of a product’s ingredients, production or processing is from or completed in Wisconsin. Members get benefits including the recognizable logo on their products, access to events and additional publicity through program marketing activities throughout the year. 

In his budget plan, Gov. Tony Evers proposed an additional $400,000 for the SSfW program for more marketing opportunities for members, such as retail pop-ups or partnerships with other state agencies or marketing firms. 

Apply or renew online:

— Madison-area nonprofit JustDane is developing a hospitality management training program for people with a criminal record, building a workforce for the hospitality sector. 

Those impacted by incarceration, homelessnes, substance abuse and other life challenges will be able to attend a 12-week course with industry-recognized hospitality management curriculum. The credits may become transferable into Madison College’s Hospitality Management Program should participants complete the new course — an arrangement already in place for its popular Just Bakery training program.

Expected to launch in 2022, the program’s development is made possible by a $55,000 planning grant from Ascendium Education Group.


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