Food Safety Outlook 2021: More Digital, More Traceable
A funny thing happened during last year's health disaster: no food safety disasters. Consider coronavirus' impact on the manufacturing side of the food and beverage industry: meat and poultry plant workers catching the virus, some dying, plants closing; USDA and FDA inspectors catching it, too, plus fewer inspections; processors caught with too much commitment to foodservice or the wrong products, having to pivot to make pantry items for retail. 

Source: Food
MWFPA Scholarships: Deadline to Apply Approaching

MWFPA Scholarship

In 2020, the Midwest Food Products Association Scholarship awarded 20 $1,000 scholarships to deserving children of parents or guardians who are employees of MWFPA member companies and are a high school senior or post-secondary student accepted into, or attending any post-secondary school, in the United States. A post-secondary school means an institution of higher education including a vocational and technical college, two-and four-year colleges and private trade schools. Winning applicants may attend these schools with any major of study. Deadline to apply March 15, 2021

MWFPA Friday/Weckel Scholarship

Both scholarships offer up to three $1,500 scholarships (total of six) to deserving undergraduate students who are majoring in agriculture or food science within the University of Wisconsin system (currently Madison, Platteville and River Falls).

Each student needs to complete only one application and required financial forms to apply for both the Carleton A. Friday and Kenneth G. Weckel scholarships. Please make sure you have printed a copy of the current year’s application/deadline or it will not be accepted (deadline for application submission and all required information is listed on the application forms). Deadline to apply April 20, 2021.

2021-22 Membership Directory
The 2021-22 Membership Directory will be going to print this spring, with a publication date of June 2021. That means it’s time to update your company profile!
Please take a minute to review your company’s listing and make the updates necessary using the member portal Infohub.

 As you review your profile, please check for accuracy in contact information, and be sure categories and a company description are in your profile. We strive for the most up to date information in the directory, but we need your help to do that.
Contact Jane Algiers if you have any concerns about data or need assistance creating a login.
NOTE: If you are delinquent in membership dues, your company will not be included in the printed directory. If you believe this to be the case, call us right away with payment to bring your account current.
WI Health Secretary Andrea Palm Leaving for Post with Biden Administration
Wisconsin’s top health care agency administrator Andrea Palm will join president-elect Joe Biden’s administration as the state grapples with advancing Covid-19 vaccinations. Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Palm has been nominated for a position as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Gov. Tony Evers announced Monday. Palm will leave her position in Wisconsin for her new post on Jan. 20, which is Biden's Inauguration Day. Read More

Source: WMC
Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin Ask MWFPA Members to Respond to a COVID Survey

We continue to hear from members about ways the pandemic is affecting your daily work and livelihoods. In this unprecedented and challenging time, the value of your work has never been more evident. It is with this in mind that we ask for your assistance.

The University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin-Madison, as part of a multi-regional study funded by the USDA, have created a survey to assess and quantify the impacts of the COVID-19 on the farm and food communities in our two-state region. The survey includes questions about production, income, financing, staffing, procurement, distribution and sales. The survey results will help researchers, community groups and policymakers establish a roadmap for moving forward.
The survey should take about 20 minutes and should be completed by an owner/manager who is currently in business or who had to shut their doors as a result of the pandemic.

As a token of appreciation, survey participants will be able to opt into a drawing for a $200 gift certificate.

To learn more about the survey and the multi-regional project, called Lessons from COVID-19: Positioning Regional Food Supply Chains for Future Pandemics, Natural Disasters and Human-made Crises, contact Dr. Hikaru Peterson, professor in the Department of Applied Economics, or visit the project website.  
CPG Companies Double Down on Sustainable Products
Consumer packaged goods companies are on the offensive when it comes to sustainability, using less plastic packaging and making recyclable products, such as Kraft Heinz's recyclable Mac & Cheese cup packaging and Colgate-Palmolive's new Keep toothbrush with a reusable aluminum handle. New York University's Stern Center for Sustainable Business reports that sustainable products accounted for 55% of the industry's growth from 2015 to 2019, even though they accounted for only 16% of the market.

Source: CBA
Corporations Nudge Farmers to Help the Environment
New goals from General Mills and Cargill aim to put a dent in those problems by transforming the way some 11 million acres of land are cultivated in the coming decade. But the Fortune 500 companies are letting individual farmers decide exactly how to achieve those goals.

Source: MN Chamber
What is the Biden Era Agricultural Agenda?
The new Congress and Administration will feature some new names in key roles for shaping our nation’s food and agriculture system. And while some familiar from the Obama Administration, experienced old hands in ag matters also will show up on the leadership roster, they will have an agenda that differs significantly from the past four years – and just as likely, a different approach to the role of government. On Capitol Hill, long-time House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) is being replaced by Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.). On the Senate side, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is expected to return to her previously-held role during the Obama Administration as chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Another familiar name from the Obama Administration – Tom Vilsack — also has been tapped to return as Secretary of Agriculture. Some elements of the left-wing of the Democrat Party have been critical of his nomination due to his familiarity with traditional farm and food organizations, as well as his past comments on climate change and minority relations. But Vilsack brings extensive experience and knowledge of all aspects of the food system. He has enjoyed the support of a wide spectrum of the agricultural community throughout his extensive career in public service. Read More

Source: Michael Best Strategies
U.S. Exports and the New Administration
A trade strategist says it will be critical to ensure the new administration understands the importance of ag exports to economic recovery.  Shawn Marie Jarosz is the founder of TradeMoves LLC. “Being able to explain to the Biden administration, members of Congress, USDA, USTR, and even EPA about the importance of exports to the US economy and part of that economic recovery that is so important,” she says. She says the new administration will likely address some barriers facing US ag exports in the next year or two. “Climate policy may become more closely aligned with our key allies—how will the Biden administration work with the EU on their initiative for farm to fork and how do we make sure ethanol is part of the solution and not on the outset and what’s the other aspects that may be part of the supply chain for the grain sector,” she says. “I also think retaliatory tariffs by our allies in section 232 and possibly even with Airbus, I think those will be lifted because I think the Biden administration wants to come back to a multilateral and plurilateral approach.”  Read More

Source: Michael Best Strategies
Food Safety & Regulatory Issues for 2021
Dr. David Acheson, founder and CEO of The Acheson Group and former associate commissioner for foods at the FDA, shares his outlook on food safety and regulatory issues for the new year. 

Source: e-news
WI Governor Evers Issues New Mask Mandate Following Lawmakers' Repeal
Gov. Tony Evers has issued a new statewide mask mandate in Wisconsin, roughly an hour after the GOP-controlled Legislature passed a joint resolution overriding the governor's previous COVID-19 emergency declaration and mask mandate. Read More

Source: WisPolitics
WI Governor Evers Announces $43 Million for Ag
Evers said the $20 million effort impacting food banks and pantries would help families fight hunger. Evers introduces his two-year budget plan to the Legislature on Feb. 16.
The overall package also includes a $1.2 million boost for dairy processor grants and new programs to address farmer mental health.
That includes a proposed regional program to increase access to mental health support services and ongoing funding for the Farmer Mental Health Assistance Program. That effort includes around-the-clock counseling, vouchers for counseling, and help for farmer peer-support networks.
"Long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and then throughout this pandemic, our farmers and producers were fighting every day to save their farms and to save their industry while helping us put food on our tables," Evers said. "It's time to join in this fight for Wisconsin's farmers and their families and agricultural industries to ensure future economic prosperity, our rural communities and our entire state."
The proposal also includes a three-pronged approach to helping local meat processing. That includes grants and an incentive program to help expand capacity, help develop the industry's workforce, and adding food inspector positions at DATCP.   Read More

Source: WisPolitics
The Global Food Trade Has Been Upended by a Container Crisis
Food is piling up in all the wrong places, thanks to carriers hauling empty shipping containers. Global competition for the ribbed steel containers means that Thailand can't ship its rice, Canada is stuck with peas and India can't offload its mountain of sugar. Shipping empty boxes back to China has become so profitable that even some American soybean shippers are having to fight for containers to supply hungry Asian buyers.  Read More

Source: CLFP
New Research Links Online Comments and Food Safety
An estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness are contracted in the United States every year, causing about 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In some instances, the source is well known, such as a batch of tainted ground beef that infected 209 people with E. Coli in 2019. But 80 percent of food poisoning cases are of unknown origin, making it impossible to inform consumers of hazardous food items.

Source: CLFP
U.S.D.A. Seeks Ways to "De-Risk" Climate Mitigation
Farmers face significant expenses in adopting climate mitigation practices, and the Biden administration is pondering how to “de-risk those investments,” possibly through a so-called carbon bank, said USDA climate adviser Robert Bonnie on Thursday. “Can we look at some new authorities to create some new financing mechanisms?” The concept of a carbon bank at the USDA has figured prominently in discussions about how the government could encourage farmers, ranchers, and foresters to slow global warming by sequestering carbon and other greenhouse gases in the soil and in trees. Bonnie, for example, in a white paper, advocated creating a carbon bank, drawing on USDA funding, to finance “climate-smart land management practices” by paying a guaranteed price per ton of carbon reductions. The bank remains conceptual at present, although Tom Vilsack, nominated for agriculture secretary, said this week that a USDA financial reserve “would be a great tool” for climate change initiatives, such as pilot projects that could become permanent parts of the farm program in the 2023 farm bill or later bills. During a webinar sponsored by the AGree farm policy coalition, Bonnie said Vilsack spoke about “the potential of a carbon bank.” 

Source: Michael Best Strategies
U.S. Chamber Sees Biden Reviving Europe Trade Ties
The largest U.S. business-lobbying group is optimistic that President Joe Biden’s goal of reaffirming ties with traditional American allies can translate into advances on trade cooperation with the U.K. and the rest of Europe. Ensuring Covid-19 relief and recovery, addressing economic threats from China and tackling climate change represent shared objectives and opportunities for the U.S. and Europe, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It also urged the European Commission to soften last week’s decision to restrict exports of vaccinations, warning that it could cause copycat restrictions on the shipment of critical inputs from other countries and regions. “I’d like to think we can take some immediate steps on both sides to get the transatlantic relationship back on track,” said Marjorie Chorlins, the chamber’s senior vice president for European Affairs and the executive director of the U.S.-U.K. Business Council. 

Source: Michael Best Strategies
TOMRA Creates Divisions for Fresh, Processed Foods
TOMRA Food announced Jan. 28 its new organization focused on two business areas, fresh food and processed food.

Key Ingredients for Optimizing Food Supply Chain
The Covid-19 pandemic exposes weaknesses in the supply chain. Here are some things to consider to make your systems more resilient and productive. Although food industry professionals understand the importance and complexity of the global supply chain, most consumers and others have little appreciation of its critical role in getting food from farm to fork.

Source: e-news
Food Facility Registrations with F.D.A. are Down Worldwide for 2021
Domestic and international food facility registrations have nose-dived, likely in part because of the coronavirus pandemic. Food facilities worldwide that do business in the United States must register with the Food and Drug Administration at the start of each odd numbered year. The 10-year old Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires food facility registrations. FDA accepted registrations between Dec. 18, 2020, and Jan. 11, 2021, for the new odd year of 2021 and found a smaller universe of food companies registering. Registrar Corp., a Hampton, VA-based private company that helps businesses complying with FDA regulations, reports 59,420 fewer food facilities were registered with FDA in January 2021 than in December 2020. “Many facilities do not realize that FDA removed their registrations until a shipment is detained at the U.S. border,” a Registrar Corp. spokesman explained. 

Source: Michael Best Strategies
Legislation Protecting Businesses from Facing Unexpected PPP Taxes Moves to Closer to Becoming Law
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) approved an amendment to Assembly Bill 2 (AB 2) on Wednesday that will ensure Wisconsin businesses can deduct expenses paid for with revenue from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Without the amendment, employers could face hundreds of millions of dollars in unexpected taxes. After getting bipartisan support, it will now go to a vote of the full Assembly and Senate. If passed, the legislation would head to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk for his signature. Both houses of the WI legislature will be meeting on Tuesday, February 16th to consider PPP legislation.

Source: WMC
WI Committee Approves Business Tax Deductions for PPP Loans
The Legislature's Republican-controlled budget committee approved a bill Wednesday that would cut taxes by $540 million by the middle of 2023, largely by eliminating taxes on federal loans to business to help them through the pandemic. The full Legislature could vote to pass it as soon as Tuesday. Democrats on the budget committee argued that the bill cost too much and was another hand-out to businesses that took the loans but still flourished during the pandemic. Both houses of the WI legislature will be meeting on Tuesday, February 16th to consider PPP legislation.

Source: WMC
F.D.A. is Letting More Sunshine In
In an increasing era of transparency, the FDA, along with its food safety partners at the CDC and FSIS, have for the last several months been listing and announcing investigations of foodborne illness outbreaks – even if a source is not determined – and may never be found. The following is a list of outbreak investigations being managed by FDA’s CORE Response Teams. The investigations are in a variety of stages, meaning that some outbreaks have limited information, and others may be near completion. A public health advisory will be issued for outbreak investigations that have resulted in specific, actionable steps for consumers to take to protect themselves. Please direct your attention to those pages for the most up to date information on the investigation and for consumer protection information. 

Source: Michael Best Strategies
Wisconsin Cities Grow by $326.4 Million With Help from Alliant Energy
Partnerships between local and state economic developers and Alliant Energy attracted new businesses to Wisconsin and encouraged existing businesses to expand their operations. Those collaborations led to 10 projects in 2020 that brought $326.4 million in new capital investment and created nearly 730 new jobs in communities within Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin service area. These capital investments ripple throughout the local economy as workers seek housing, shop in local stores, eat in local restaurants, and pay sales and property taxes.

Source: Michael Best Strategies
House Ag Committee Approves $16 Billion Food & Nutrition Portion of Proposed Stimulus Package
The House Ag Committee has voted in favor of the food and nutrition title included in the proposed $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package.

The legislation includes just over $16 billion in support for farmers, rural communities, and food insecure Americans. During the mark up, Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois pledged her support for the passage. “This coronavirus relief legislation will deliver desperately needed relief to our growers and producers while also providing food security to the 1 in 5 children in our nation who are experiencing hunger as a result of the pandemic.” She highlights portions of the bill directly benefitting farmers and food workers. “The nearly $4 billion in agricultural assistance in this bill, including commodity purchases, will give farmers relief from market disruptions and uncertainty, while also providing funding for small- and mid-sized meat and poultry processors to protect workers with Personal Protective Equipment and social distancing.“ 

Source: Michael Best Strategies
Mark Your Calendar
February 16, 2021 - 13th Annual Nutrient Management Conference will be held on February 16, addressing topics relating to nutrient management. Learn more and register here

February 25, 2021 -10:00 a.m.
My Brain Made Me Do It: Psychological Drivers of Employee Behavior, presented by Caterpillar Safety Systems

All organizations safety performance is impacted by the attitudes, behaviors and beliefs of its employees. With some basic tools to better understand the psychological drivers of culture, safety professionals and leaders alike can more effectively engage employees in process improvement.

Who Should Attend: Safety and HR professionals, and operations professionals with safety interest.
March 9-12 - The Partnership for Food Safety Education has scheduled its Consumer Food Safety Education (CFSE) Virtual Conference for March 9-12, 2021. It is the only conference in the U.S. dedicated to consumer food safety education. This year’s conference will explore many timely topics, including those that have impacted consumers since the COVID-19 pandemic began. More


February 25 - 10:00 a.m. - Raw Products Committee will hear new proposal for 2021 research projects