How to Improve Food Processing Efficiency
For food processors, efficiency can be a major asset. Cutting production times and improving kitchen throughput is one of the best ways to reduce costs and boost profits. In recent years, new management strategies and a range of technologies — like Industry 4.0 — has transformed how business owners manage their facilities, including food processing plants. This means there is a range of new, efficiency - improving tools available for businesses that want to streamline plant processes and better manage their operations. The strategies and investments are some of the best possible ways for food processors to improve their plant's efficiency. Source: CLFP
Are Food Subscription Services Here to Stay?

Subscription services surged along with online shopping last year, and food and beverage subscriptions grew 25%, according to data from Ordergroove. The craving for convenience and safer ways to order everything from produce and grocery staples to meal kits and prepared meals have spurred growth during the pandemic, and industry insiders say the trend is likely to last even when the crisis is behind us. Read More

Source: CBA

Ag Energy Coalition Submits Recommendations to Biden Administration

The Agriculture Energy Coalition wants Congress and the Biden administration to increase funding for USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Director Lloyd Ritter says the coalition, made up of many organizations in the ag energy and ag climate space, would like to see a financial infusion of more than $2 billion over ten years to the popular REAP program. “To make it more sort of beneficial to rural communities, and really just be a big climate sort of solutions program in the ag and rural sectors.”

He tells Brownfield without additional REAP dollars, people will continue to be turned away. “Whether they just want to install a small-scale wind turbine on a farm, a solar PV system or biogas system, there’s just not enough funds to make the program support all the levels of interest and good projects that are submitted to USDA for funding.” The Ag Energy Coalition also recommends the long-term extension of clean energy tax credits, replenished funding for business and industry loan programs, and a new focus on sustainable aviation fuels. Read More

Source: Michael Best Strategies
Industrial Outreach Service Provider is Your Free Resource

Interested in incentives to upgrade your facility or save capital? The ComEd Energy Efficiency Program can help. No current capital? You can still get savings with maintenance and operational changes. Contact Ryan Keller, Industrial Development Manager, who will connect you to your assigned Outreach Engineer to pursue these opportunities. Your Outreach Engineer will assess the best programs for your facility, identify available incentives, and help all the way through the application process. We are free of charge and look forward to working with you. Contact Ryan at or (630) 531-0505.

Climate Mitigation "Designed by Farmers for Farmers"

Farmers and ranchers will have a voice in writing the Biden administration’s plan for alleviating climate change, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday — “a system that is designed by farmers for farmers.” A spokesman said the USDA will reach out to the agricultural sector “in the coming weeks” for ideas. “I think agriculture is poised to be a leader in this effort,” Vilsack told the National Farmers Union convention. “And to do that we need to create financial incentives and markets that are not designed and structured for an investment class, but are designed and constructed and implemented for farmers.” Producers could see three new revenue streams from climate mitigation, he said. They were income from carbon markets, from conversion of agricultural waste into products ranging from chemicals to fabrics, and capture of methane from manure for use as a renewable fuel. “So USDA needs to be engaged and involved in providing the resources to make that those new markets possible so that as we develop and construct new farm bills in the future,” said Vilsack.  Read More

Source: Michael Best Strategies

House Ag Ranking Member on Partisanship

The House Agriculture Committee is often touted as a sanctum of bipartisanship. It was anything but as the first markup of the 117th Congress was held, examining a majority-drafted coronavirus aid bill. One Republican sponsored amendment, also backed by Democrat Cindy Axne of Iowa, made it through committee.  That addition, that would have extended WHIP+ disaster aid to 2020 events such as the Iowa derecho, was stripped out of the legislation in the rules committee. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn Thompson joins the DC signal to Noise Podcast to discuss the partisanship on the committee, whether it can be healed, and the counter proposal being offered up by the committee's Republicans. Read More

Source: Michael Best Strategies

MWFPA Scholarships: Deadline Today!

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
A $668 Million Initiative to Expand Broadband Availability to Unserved WI Homes & Small Businesses
Charter has announced plans to deliver gigabit high-speed broadband to approximately 143,000 unserved Wisconsin homes and small businesses, as estimated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). As part of this effort, more than $668 million will be invested in Wisconsin, which includes an expected private investment of at least $500 million by Charter and more than $168 million in support won by Charter in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity (RDOF) auction. Read More

Source: WMC
Farm Income Improves Significant, Say Ag Bankers
Heartened by sharp increases in commodity prices, farmers and ranchers across the Midwest and Plains are paying off bank loans and opening their wallets for big-ticket purchases, said a report from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday based on surveys of ag lenders. “Dramatic improvements in crop prices drove the sharpest turnaround in agricultural lending conditions in more than a decade.” Based on conditions at the close of 2020, “farm income was higher than a year ago across all participating districts,” said the Fed. The regional Federal Reserve banks in Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and St. Louis conducted surveys of farm bankers in their regions. “With better financial outcomes in 2020, capital spending plans for farm borrowers also strengthened in the fourth quarter and were expected to increase in all districts in coming months.” Read More

Source: Michael Best Strategies
MWFPA Testifies on Meat Labeling Proposal
Last week MWFPA testified before the WI Assembly Agriculture Committee on a proposal to regulate the labeling of meat products.

MWFPA President Jason Culotta encouraged the committee to adopt qualifying language for meat alternatives that would allow the bill to withstand First Amendment challenges which have prevailed in other states.

The committee has not yet scheduled action on the bill.
Educate Your Workforce on the Benefits of Vaccination
The FDA published a new web page, COVID-19 Vaccination & the Food and Agriculture Sector, to help food and agriculture employers communicate the benefits of vaccination to their workforce. The web page includes:
  • The safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by the FDA and fact sheets in more than 25 languages.
  • A CDC toolkit in different languages with key messages to reach essential workers about COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Information about the availability of vaccines in your community.
Leverage your social media channels to build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines and share social media posts from this toolkit from the COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project.

Source: AFFI
Health Canada Introduces Front-of-Packaging Labeling
Health Canada is introducing front-of-package (FOP) labeling for certain prepackaged foods high in sodium, sugars, and saturated fat. This measure aims to complement existing labeling measures to provide consumers with simplified and visible information. Additionally, Health Canada is amending the regulations for nutrient content claim and quantitative statements, as well as removing unnecessary labeling requirements for high-intensity sweeteners.
Implementation of these types of labeling requirements to the North and South of the U.S., could mean that U.S. agencies may consider similar labeling requirements. Elements of this regulation are aligned with U.S. requirements (e.g., labeling of high-intensity sweeteners); however, there is currently no U.S. equivalent of mandatory FOP labeling for foods containing nutrients of public health concern. Health Canada’s regulation mirrors mandatory FOP labelling requirements in Chile and Mexico. After December 14, 2022, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will verify compliance and apply enforcement discretion.
If you have issues or concerns regarding FOP labeling, please contact AFFI’s Executive Vice President of Science & Policy, Dr. Donna Garren at

Source: AFFI
NSSRI Releases Updated Sugar Reduction Targets
The National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative (NSSRI) is releasing voluntary sugar reduction targets for 15 categories of foods and beverages, including frozen desserts and breakfast pastries, that contribute the most added sugar to U.S. diets. NSSRI offered the food and beverage industry an opportunity to comment on the preliminary targets in 2018. These targets were drafted with the expectation that reformulation efforts to reduce sugar will meet the proposed targets without increasing saturated fat, calories, sodium, or refined carbohydrates. 

Source: AFFI
Big Food's 2020 Financial Report Card
You’ve heard anecdotes and seen piecemeal reports of how good the pandemic has been to Big Food companies, especially those with shelf-stable, center-of-store, trusted brands. February’s annual Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference provided the hard-data confirmation for at least a handful of those big companies.  Read More

Got the Covid-19 Vaccine? Here's What the CDC Says You Can Do
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines designed to ease restrictions for Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The agency’s guidance state those who have received a full course of COVID-19 vaccine may get together with other fully vaccinated individuals in small groups inside their homes without masks or physical distancing. They can also visit with unvaccinated people from one other household who are at low risk for severe disease. Read More

Source: WMC
What's Keeping You From Eating Fruits & Veggies?
With the internet and social media filled with conflicting information about food, nutrition, and diet, Have A Plant® Ambassador Neva Cochran, RDN has decided to set the record straight. Read on as she debunks five popular myths that may be keeping you from eating enough of these good-for-you foods. Debunking the Myths

Source: PBH Foundation
Biden Names Wisconsin Lawyer as Ag & Rural Policy Advisory
President Biden has selected another Wisconsinite to serve in Washington D.C. Attorney Kelliann Blazek was Governor Tony Evers’ director at the Office of Rural Prosperity. Now, she will serve as a special assistant to Biden for agriculture and rural policy. Blazek received her law degree at the University of Wisconsin, taught food law and policy, and has worked for Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine. She grew up on her family’s farm near Bangor, Wisconsin. Biden previously named former Department of Health Services secretary Andrea Palm to serve as deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Read More

Source: Michael Best Strategies

Note: MWFPA had engaged Kelliann in her prior role with the WI Economic Development Corporation

What's in the American Rescue Plan of 2021 for Ag?
In early March the Senate passed, on a party-line vote, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package (The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021). The legislation goes back to the House – likely this week – before it can go to the White House for final approval. While much of the coverage of the legislation has focused on the $1,400 stimulus checks for qualifying individuals, extended unemployment benefits, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures and increased assistance through USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, there are several agricultural-related provisions. Combined, the nutrition and agricultural provisions are estimated at $22.7 billion. Today’s article reviews the agricultural provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Read More

Source: Michael Best Strategies
Former House Ag Chair Joins Top Ag Consulting Firm

Collin Peterson of Minnesota who served twice as the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, most recently in the 116th Congress, is looking to keep a deep involvement in ag following his election loss in November. “'I’ve been getting calls from people starting, I guess, in December, from all kinds of different folks saying, ‘you know, you have to stay engaged, you need to figure out some way to be involved in the agricultural policy going forward. We need you, we need your voice and so forth,’” Peterson told AgriTalk Radio host Chip Flory. Peterson announced on AgriTalk Wednesday that he is heeding those calls and will be joining one of the best-known ag policy consulting firms, Combest, Sell & Associates. Read More

Source: Michael Best Strategies
Baldwin Take Reins on Ag Appropriations
The Wisconsin Democrat will chair the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Agriculture Department and FDA’s annual budgets, while North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven will again be the top Republican on the panel. In a statement, Baldwin touted her experience representing a top dairy state and pledged to focus on supporting producers and rural development for “communities that too often feel they are being left behind by Washington.” More moves: Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who was previously the Ag-FDA panel’s top Democrat, will instead take the gavel of the Interior-EPA subcommittee (which also controls funding for the Forest Service). Pro Budget’s Jennifer Scholtes has the full rundown of the new top Senate appropriators.   Read More

Source: Michael Best Strategies
WI Adopts Broad Covid-19 Civil Liability Immunity
Joining a growing number of states, on February 25, 2021, Wisconsin enacted its own COVID-19 civil liability shield law, one of the broadest in the country, 2021 Wisconsin Act 4 (the “Act”).
Source: Michael Best Strategies

Packaging Innovation to Prevent Food Waste

4-10% of food purchased by foodservice operations in the U.S. is thrown out before reaching plates, according to the EPA. Read More

7x24 Exchange - March 17, 2021 Webinar
MWFPA associate member I-Gard will be hosting an upcoming 7x24 Exchange webinar focused on Data Center Applications, presented by Sergio Panetta, Vice President of Engineering at I-Gard.
The topic is "Why Resistance Grounding is Vital in Data Center Operations" and the event will be held on March 17th at noon CST. To register, please click here: March 17, 2021, 1:00 PM ET | 7x24 Exchange International.

During this session, the audience will walk through a High Resistance Grounding System, explaining fundamentals and connecting them to data center applications.
Key takeaways include:
  • HRG systems for data centers, including an example of a typical application in data centers
  • Power Continuity – critical for data centers
  • Benefits of High Resistance Grounding
  • I-Gard HRG technology

If you are not a member of 7x24, please contact Daniel Berry at (USA) or Miriam Canto (Canada) for a free registration. Please include your company profile and a brief description of the services/solutions you provide to DC applications.
Reminder to Participate in Food Industry Covid Survey
This is a reminder to help support a study to assess the most urgent needs of the food industry with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic by participating in this anonymous survey. Participants may choose to answer all or only a portion of this 30-min survey; for example, part 1 of the survey would take just 5-7 min. Please participate to make sure that our industry is heard! The research is funded by the USDA program “Rapid Response to Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Impacts Across Food and Agricultural Systems”. This research will benefit the participating companies whose COVID-19 related experiences and needs will be heard and could be acted upon, for the ultimate benefit of the food industry as a whole. For questions, please contact Dr. Renata Ivanek at Survey
MN Senate Passes PPP Tax Conformity Legislation
“This is positive news for Minnesota businesses who have struggled to keep their doors open and people employed during the pandemic,” the Minnesota Chamber statement read. “With a $1.6 billion surplus and billions more dollars now coming from the federal government, there is no reason Governor Walz and House leaders shouldn’t provide this tax relief now – just like neighboring states have done. Providing this one-time relief will help the 100,000 businesses that received a PPP loan to continue growing the economy and creating and sustaining jobs for Minnesotans.” Read More

Source: MN Chamber/Marshall Independent
Conagra Preps Pipeline of Trending Products

Conagra Brands is responding to increasing consumer interest in the keto diet and plant-based foods with zero-sugar varieties for its Reddi-wip and Healthy Choice brands, as well as chicken nuggets and chili for its plant-based Gardein brand, said CEO Sean Connolly. Increasing demand for meal solutions will be met from the Birds Eye brand with sheet pan meals and other offerings, added Connolly. Read More
McCain Foods Backs Vertical Farming Startup

McCain Foods has invested $65 million in TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, owner of Canada-based vertical farming company GoodLeaf Farms. McCain, now the startup's biggest shareholder, aims to help the company grow a national network of automated vertical farming operations.
TOMRA Adds SmartGrade to Spectrim Packaging Platform

The new SmartGrade system puts the packhouse in complete control of grading with such accuracy that it is able to pack fruit to maximize sales by matching very precisely the specific requirements of the individual customers. Read More
BIPA Reform Bill Passes Committee in Bi-Partisan Vote; Trial Lawyers Did Not Oppose
A proposal to reform the state's Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA) was passed in the House Judiciary-Civil Committee Tuesday afternoon in a bi-partisan vote of 10-5-1. Business groups, including the state Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Manufacturers Association, Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL) are supporting two proposals that would overhaul the state's biometric privacy law that has spawned tremendous growth in litigation in Illinois against big and small businesses. The proposal that passed following a virtual hearing, House Bill 559, would allow for a 30-day time period to correct alleged violations of the Act, as well as actual damages (rather than liquidated damages) for the negligent (currently $1,000 per violation) and willful (currently $5,000 per violation) offending entity. The measure also would exclude employees of private entities from bringing legal action if a collective bargaining agreement that addresses biometric information is in place. Read More

Source: Madison-St.Clair Record
Why Nostalgia Marketing Will Trend in 2021
Nostalgia marketing reflects consumer desire to return to normal as coronavirus-related restrictions lift and will trend this year, as it has after previous national crises, according to Jeremy Goldman, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence's eMarketer. Consumer packaged goods brands taking part in this trend include PepsiCo's Doritos, which ran a Super Bowl ad for the return of its 1990s favorite 3D Crunch variety to stores. Read More

Source: CBA
Mark Your Calendar
March 25 - The Evolution of Cyber Risk
Many companies have fallen victim to ransomware attacks, business email compromise, and social engineering. Join M3 Insurance for an overview of the evolving cyber risk environment and what business owners and executives need to know.

June 2-3 - Annual Spring Summit & Scramble
June 2nd - SUMMIT: The Board of Directors, AMO/Convention Committees and Raw Products Committee will be meeting in-person at the Kalahari Convention Center the day prior to the golf scramble. (Request for RSVPs at a later date.)

June3rd - SCRAMBLE: Back by popular demand, the highly anticipated annual in-person golf outing! Trappers Turn, Wisconsin Dells


April 8 - HACCP/Preventive Controls
Presented by Hydrite Chemical (REGISTRATION CLOSED AT THIS TIME)

April 22 - Field Service Automation

May 6 - Elements of a Great Leader
Presented by Russell Associations (REGISTRATION CLOSED AT THIS TIME)