— The head of UW-River Falls’ Dairy Pilot Plant says the renovated facility, due to reopen this spring, will have three times as much production capacity.
In an interview yesterday, plant manager Michelle Farner explained the university’s Dairy Pilot Plant first came online in 1982 as a laboratory for food science and dairy science courses. Over the years, it evolved into a production facility with about 1,500 square feet of space for processing raw dairy inputs and finished products.
“Quite frankly, we just outgrew the space and needed to upgrade to current food safety standards,” Farner told WisBusiness.com.
The process of renovating the space began in 2012, after a grassroots committee including state dairy industry partners came to the decision that the entire facility needed to be overhauled. Now, 10 years and about $8 million later, the 6,000-square-foot upgraded facility is set to reopen in the spring.
Farner said about $5 million of the total renovation cost came from industry partners, who she said are deeply invested in the success of the plant. She noted some of these companies hope to use the new space to connect with prospective employees through the university’s dairy science and food science programs.
The university yesterday announced Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery has donated an additional $30,000 to the renovation project, bringing the company’s total contribution to $150,000.
“I expect there to be a lot more interaction, I suppose, with these companies and the students,” she said. “Anytime you have a bright, shiny new object in the room, it seems to draw attention. So I’m very hopeful that when the potential student tour groups come through, they see this facility that’s shiny and new, that it will attract more attention to the food science major.”
The dairy products made at the facility are sold to campus dining services, Farner explained, but the space has also been used by partnering companies for product trials. This gives students working at the plant a chance to learn more about how research and development is conducted in the industry.
“So the major goal is obviously to teach students, and give them the hands-on working knowledge they need to hit the ground running when they graduate and get out into the dairy products processing world,” she said.
— An international trade expert says company leaders need to build a “culture of trade compliance” to avoid the pitfalls associated with importing and exporting overseas.
Margaret Lange, compliance director for Milwaukee logistics firm M.E. Dey & Co., discussed this topic yesterday during a webinar hosted by the Madison International Trade Association. She warned participants that failing to adhere to trade regulations can result in significant fines and penalties, goods being detained at ports, the loss of importing and exporting rights and other consequences.
On the export side, she said certain administrative violations alone can result in fines of up to $300,000 each.
“So if you have many shipments leaving the country … that can really add up quickly and be quite devastating to your company,” she said.
To avoid these unwanted outcomes, she urged participants to include trade compliance elements in all business plans and goals, and communicate the importance of compliance policy to all business divisions.
“It’s going to provide direction and expectations to the staff so that they understand why it’s important to them and what they need to do to be part of this initiative,” she said. “That policy should also be communicated regularly — this is not a one-and-done thing.”
Lange emphasized the importance of continued education and training to keep staff updated on trade compliance regulations, as the global landscape shifts due to changing U.S. relationships with other countries such as China and Russia. That can come through adding new software, or bringing trade consultants on board to assist with these efforts, she said.
“All of this needs to be really coming from the top-down; the culture needs to be built,” she said.
She also referenced the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which went into effect in June after being put in place by U.S. lawmakers. This law aims to prevent U.S. entities from funding forced labor by minority groups in the country’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
According to Lange, more than 1,300 shipments have been stopped since the law took effect due to potential ties with forced labor in the region.
“There has been no importer who’s been able to prove their products weren’t made with forced labor,” she said. “So that product has been sitting at the port of entry and they haven’t been able to get their product. So you really want to make sure you’re thinking about that as well, and having processes in place.”
Watch a recent episode of “Talking Trade” focused on the new law: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/talking-trade-with-damian-felton-of-the-cohen-group/
See more trade-related news at the WisBusiness.com Trade Policy page: https://www.wisbusiness.com/trade-policy/
— WEDC is calling for applications for funding through its Fabrication Laboratories Grant Program, and plans to award grants to 20 public school districts.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. yesterday announced the deadline is Jan. 15 for the seventh year of the grant program. The agency will provide grants of up to $25,000 for public school districts or up to $50,000 for consortiums of two or more districts.
Applicants need to match 50 percent of the total grant funding they’re requesting, according to the WEDC release. Funding must be used to establish or expand “fab labs,” which can include computer-controlled manufacturing equipment such as 3D printers, laser engravers and more.
WEDC says it will be allocating $500,000 this fiscal year, with recipients announced in the spring. Since the program began, the agency has awarded over $3.9 million in grants to 106 school districts.
— Marshfield Clinic Health System is participating in a clinical trial for a potential vaccine to prevent Lyme disease.
According to a release from the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, no vaccines are currently available for preventing Lyme disease, a common illness caused by bites from infected ticks. They can pass the bacteria that causes the disease to humans, resulting in symptoms such as rash, fever and fatigue, as well as more serious problems if left untreated.
In hopes of developing a preventative vaccine, MCHS is taking part in Pfizer’s Phase 3 clinical trial, Vaccine Against Lyme for Outdoor Recreationists, or VALOR. It’s focused on a possible vaccine being developed by the company called VLA15.
Dr. Matthew Hall, an infectious disease physician and researcher with the health system, says Lyme disease poses a threat to anyone in the Midwest who spends time outdoors in the summer.
“A vaccination that could provide some reassurance against contracting this life-altering disease would be a game-changer,” he said in the release.
MCHS is seeking healthy adults and children aged 5 years and older who live in or frequently visit outdoor areas that expose them to ticks, such as wooded areas or lakesides. Anyone who’s been diagnosed with Lyme disease within three months of enrollment is not eligible.
Participants will either get the study vaccine or a placebo during the study, which will last about 30 months. Taking part will entail reporting health changes and making at least seven clinic study visits, including up to five visits with blood draws. Those who develop Lyme disease symptoms may need to provide more blood samples, the health system says.
The study aims to enroll about 6,000 people at up to 50 sites around the world where Lyme disease is regularly found. According to the release, MCHS is the only participating organization in the Midwest.
Find more details on the study here: https://marshfieldresearch.org/valorlymestudy
— State officials have issued a new fish consumption advisory for certain species in parts of the Wisconsin River after fish sampling found high levels of PFAS.
The advisory was announced yesterday by the state Departments of Health Services and Natural Resources.
PFAS are man-made substances used in products such as non-stick pans and firefighting foam, which have been found to cause health problems when consumed. The agencies warn that anyone consuming fish with elevated PFAS levels could be at risk.
The advisory applies to Castle Rock Lake and Lake Mohawksin, both of which are segments of the Wisconsin River. It includes fish such as bluegill, yellow perch, common carp and others.
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# PRESS RELEASES
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