State News Roundup: Chinese company in the works to buy Smithfield Foods
A normally-secretive Chinese company is trying to be unusually open as it seeks to buy the American meat-packing giant Smithfield Foods. Shuanghui International is offering four-point-seven billion dollars to buy the parent firm of Patrick Cudahy's bacon plant in suburban Milwaukee. A host of concerns have been raised over the proposed acquisition - including Chinese food safety scandals, and a report that a man from Thailand made over three-million dollars from trading Smithfield stock just before the recent sale announcement. The chairman of the Chinese food operation, 72-year-old Wan Long, said Americans do not have anything to fear from the deal - and possibly a lot to gain. He said Smithfield has a very good control system for food safety, and Shaunghui hopes to make it better. Wan said Smithfield's brand would not change, and neither would its production sites or U-S jobs - including the one-thousand workers at the Patrick Cudahy packaged-meat plant in Cudahy. Wan also expects the deal to go through quote, "without a hitch." Shaunghui said in advance it would submit the proposed deal for a U-S government security review.
Forty-four Wisconsin dairy farms are getting state grants this year with the goal of boosting the state's milk production. Recipients of the "Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30-by-20" grants were recently unveiled. The program's overall goal is to produce 30-million pounds of milk each year in the Badger State by 2020. The state made just over 27-million pounds last year. Dairy farmers cannot use the grants for building improvements, but they can be employed in a host of other ways aimed at boosting production and profits. This year's grant recipients will focus on improving milk quality, evaluating the health of their dairy herds, making business plans, and improving relations with dairy employees. The grants can also map out future farm investments like future irrigation, manure storage, and facilities for heifers.
The Wisconsin Dells area has a much-improved Lake Delton after the Floods-of-2008 - but other parts of southern Wisconsin were not as fortunate. The Wisconsin State Journal wrote about the region's aftermath yesterday, five years to the day after a crumbling road drained Lake Delton and sent five homes down the Wisconsin River. Lake Delton Village President Tom Diehl, who owns the Tommy Bartlett Water Show on the lake, says the new lake is much better than the old one. The breach removed carp from the water - and a new park and fishing pier have been created. Meanwhile, Spring Green in Sauk County was hoping for a comeback that never came. Over seven-million dollars were spent to remove a motel and 14 nearby homes - but the subdivision remains abandoned. Gays Mills lost about 20-percent of its population after heavy floods hit the Mississippi River community in both 2008-and-'09. Many of those who stayed moved to higher ground, with the help of millions in grants and loans. Former village president Craig Anderson said Gays Mills dealt with quite a challenge as it lost taxpaying residents - plus the charm of the original village near the river.
This could be a bad summer for ticks in Wisconsin - and officials say it might lead to more cases of Lyme disease. Experts say ticks love a moist climate and warm weather, and Wisconsin is getting both. Kenosha County environmental health officer Mark Melotik said he began seeing ticks a month ago, but it remains to be seen whether they'll lead to more Lyme cases. Wisconsin has at least 16 species of ticks, but U-W experts say only a few bite humans. That includes the deer ticks known for causing Lyme disease. Last year's hot-and-dry summer resulted in a decrease in Wisconsin Lyme cases.