The timber industry was having issues before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tariffs from China were putting a strain on the industry.

Then the pandemic hit, and mills slowed production or closed altogether.

While lumber prices shot up during the height of the pandemic, timbers harvesters and haulers weren’t benefiting from it.

It’s that cumulation that makes the relief funding for those harvesters and haulers so critical, according to Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin).


There are just about no aspects of life that have not been impacted the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many farmers it’s meant drops in price for product they sell and a disruption in the supply chain.

“Everybody remembers the news footage of milk being dumped in the spring or produce being plowed under because there was no market for it,” said USDA’s Wisconsin Farm Service Agency Executive Director Sandy Chalmers.

She says aid farmers have already gotten for pandemic relief has made a huge difference.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

As part of an $866,000 USDA Rural Business Development Grant, the federal government is funding two projects in the Northwoods geared toward job creation.

Wisconsin Director Frank Frassetto announced a grant of $89,000 to five Native American business owners in the Lac du Flambeau, Mole Lake and Menominee tribes. That grant was to NiiJii Capital Partners. Another grant of $35,000 was awarded to Nicolet College. Frassetto says the money is for technical assistance.

He outlined the Nicolet College grant...


People in Wisconsin and dozens of other states have been getting seed packets they didn’t request in the mail.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is working to collect information on the trend and asking people to take specific action.

“Some Wisconsin residents have received these unsolicited packages in the mail that appear to contain seeds or other small items that people didn’t order. The packages appear to have originated from China or potentially other countries, as well,” said DATCP Communications Director Grace Atherton.

Wausau Pilot and Review

A Marathon County community will get a much-needed financial boost from the federal government.

This week, the USDA announced it will give the Village of Maine, just north of Wausau, about $1.5 million in grants and loans.

That’s to improve a deteriorating wastewater system.

Maine absorbed the former village of Brokaw not long after the community’s backbone, the Wausau Paper mill, closed down in 2012. geralt

Last week, leaders of two agencies traveled to communities in the Northwoods and  Ironwood, Michigan to hold roundtable discussions with local leaders about business financing and accessing small business opportunities.

Under a federal Memorandum of Understanding, USDA Rural Development and the Small Business Administration are working more collaboratively on business financing and other resources.

Wisconsin Rural Development Director Frank Frassetto says the collaboration is designed to provide more to local communities.

Wikimedia Commons


A large federal investment has been awarded to the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to help improve water infrastructure.

USDA Rural Development Director for Wisconsin Frank Frassetto says that agency is essentially a large bank for rural America and they provide loan, loan guarantees and grants in rural America.

Frassetto details the award In Lac du Flambeau...

Emergency loans are available for farmers in Florence, Forest, Vilas and Iron counties from the July flooding in northern Wisconsin.

Tom Brandt is the Farm Service Agency's Farm Loan Chief. He says the lower interest loans are designed to help farmers recoup losses caused by Mother Nature...

" goes to the actual operators of the farm. You have to be farming to qualify for one of these loans. It's to help them get back on their feet from losses they might have suffered from one of these disasters...."

The head of USDA Rural Development in Wisconsin says the work being done in Rhinelander's downtown is a direct example of federal dollars helping local communities.

Stan Gruszynski was in Rhinelander this week to formally break ground on the nearly $10 million Streetscape project. USDA Rural Development provided a large chunk of the money for the infrastructure work.


An official recently wrote an op-ed piece to drive home the point that many of rural Wisconsin's projects are funded to a large extent by federal funds, followed by the state.

U.S.D.A. Rural Development Director Stan Gruszynski says not much has been made public about how much money U.S.D.A.spends in Wisconsin each year. He says it's between $700 million and $1 billion each year...

USDA Cranberry Purchase Good News For Growers

Nov 26, 2014
James Lake Cranberry Marsh

Cranberry growers are pleased with the news that the USDA will start purchasing millions of pounds of surplus cranberries. 

High yields have driven prices down to as low as 10 to 19 cents a pound for processed fruit.

Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association Director Tom Lochner says at that price growers can’t break even.

 “It’s been declining.  We’ve seen the downward pressure on grower returns for three or four years now.  So hopefully we’ve reached the bottom and we’ll start to see signs that things are improving.”

The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council has picked up a federal grant to help promote financial literacy and to help tribal  entrepreneurs get businesses started.

Jeff Muse is a Deputy Director at the Council. The USDA competitive grant is for just under $100,000....

"....the money is used to work with individual tribes and also tribal members for education purposed in financial literacy and to be support for tribal members who may want to start up their own business...."

June is home ownership month.  U.S.D.A.'s state Rural Development Director says most people don't realize the impact home ownership has on the rural economies.
Director Stan Gruszynski says Rural Development will back loans for people wanting a home...

" it's important to understand that to keep our economy going and to insure that our rural communities are healthy and vibrant, we have to focus on the housing market and make sure people have safe, affordable housing and they can afford to get into that housing...."


Rhinelander was selected as one of 49 communities across the U.S. as a national Earth Day recepient by the Department of Agriculture. As part of the designation, the city received a total of $3.7 million in grant and lower-interest loans to upgrade sewer and storm water systems.

USDA Rural Development State Director Stan Gruszynski presented Mayor Dick Johns with an award recognizing the city's initiative toward improving water quality...

A federal grant to fund the underground infrastructure along downtown Rhinelander streets looked dead as of last week, but it appears to be back on again after a meeting Monday night.

The city weeks ago was given positive indications it would get $1.6 million dollars but there was a hitch: the work had to commence next year. City officials and Downtown Rhinelander, Incorporated officials want to do the work, but felt the timeline was too short to have the details worked out to do the job successfully.