Ginseng Board Strikes $200 Million Deal with Chinese Company
Story By Lex Gray
EDGAR - You see "Made in China" stickers every time you go to the store.
But soon, Chinese people will be seeing more Wisconsin-grown and made products in their stores.
Governor Walker went on a trade mission to China last week to help generate business in Wisconsin.
"Ginseng in our area is a pretty popular thing because of our soil and climate," said ginseng farmer Joe Heil. "Marathon County is the leading producer of ginseng in the US."
Heil is the president of the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin. He farms corn, soybean and 100 acres of ginseng. Ginseng is highly valued as an herbal medication, especially in Asia.
"It's definitely a bigger challenge. Soybeans, corn, anyone can grow that crop," he said. "Ginseng is a real challenge, there's no books, there's not been a lot of research done as far as how to grow it, because it's such a challenge."
But there's a payoff. Heil's fields are muddy and snow-covered now, but in October, they're worth upwards of $100,000 per acre.
Governor Walker worked out a big ginseng deal with Chinese leaders last week.
He announced growers could export $200 million worth of ginseng over the next ten years. Most of it will come from Marathon County.
"We understand a win-win proposition," Walker said from Beijing. "For us, a strong Chinese economy is just as important to us as a strong American economy in Wisconsin is for the people of China."
Heil hopes Governor Walker's trade mission will help Wisconsin's ginseng industry grow.
"I'm hoping that it's sustainable enough that young people will start getting back into the business or taking over the family farms," he said. "That's one thing we've seen, if we go back about ten years we have 1500 farmers and now we're down to about 140 in the state of Wisconsin just because it's not been profitable."
RHINELANDER - We'll enjoy great weather this week, but we know it won't last too long. Workers at golf courses across the area know that incoming fall weather spells the end of their season, so they're trying to capitalize on the next few weeks of warm forecasts.
MERRILL - The school bells rang Tuesday morning for students across Wisconsin.
Another school year has begun with kids looking forward to a new year.
It also means that drivers should be on the lookout around schools.
In Merrill, police keep a close watch around school zones the first few weeks of class.
Speed limits drop dramatically as drivers enter school zones.
Merrill Police Chief Ken Neff says it's important to be especially observant this time of year.
"Especially the first week or two of school because kids are excited, and maybe not so excited, about getting back to school," Neff said. "They're thinking about their friends and maybe not paying attention to traffic."
NORTHWOODS - Children went back to school across the Northwoods Tuesday. That's why it's important to make sure you're prepared for anything.
Emergency workers say it's important to have a plan in place for all possible emergency situations. That plan should include emergency contacts, safe meeting locations, and emergency kits in homes and cars. Officials say taking time to plan and practice is crucial.
"Look at things before it happens," says Dawn Robinson, Oneida County Emergency Management Program Assistant. "Make sure your family, your loved ones, your neighbors, make sure everyone has a plan and practice those plans. That way when something does happen, it becomes more, that you know what to do, so be prepared as much as possible, and practice."
Part of being prepared is communication and knowing who to contact. Officials encourage parents to make sure that schools have up-to-date emergency contact information, especially for small children.
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