The Wisconsin Pork Association granted its Distinguished Public Service Award to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers during its 2021 annual meeting on June 2nd. The honor recognizes an individual who provides outstanding support of the state’s pork industry.
“I’m honored to receive this award, and grateful to Wisconsin’s pork producers for all they do to feed their communities,” said Gov. Evers. “Our agriculture industry forms the foundation of our state’s economy. It’s only right for the state to do whatever it can to support our farmers, their families, and all those who keep our food supply chain moving.”
Since the beginning of his first term, Evers has prioritized supporting Wisconsin’s $104.8 billion agriculture industry through budget initiatives and continued partnerships with state and federal agencies. In the 2021-2023 biennial budget, the Governor has proposed significant investments that would benefit the state’s pork industry, such as: • A $1 million Meat Processor Grant Program • A Meat Talent Development Program to support the next generation of meat processors • Additional meat inspection staff at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)
The Governor’s budget also proposes funding to help build markets for Wisconsin agricultural products, assist farmers in navigating daily challenges, and provide technical support for producer-driven soil and water solutions, among other provisions.
“Governor Evers has been a true friend to Wisconsin pork, especially during the challenging times we faced in 2020,” added WPA Executive Director Keri Retallick. “His support and leadership throughout the pandemic and beyond has been valuable and meaningful. We typically present this award to a state legislator, but this year we felt the Governor clearly deserved the honor.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Evers allocated $50 million of Wisconsin’s federal CARES Act funding for direct aid payments to farmers, fulfilling a request from several agricultural groups. Pork producers applied for and received approximately $279,000 of the funding. The Governor also directed $25 million of CARES Act dollars to create a Food Security Initiative, most of which helped food banks and pantries across the state purchase Wisconsin food products, including meat, for distribution to those in need.
Also in 2020, DATCP and the Wisconsin Pork Association created Passion for Pork, a program that connected the state’s pork producers to food banks in need of nutritious, high-quality meat for their clients. To date, the partnership has kept 172 tons of pork, or about 183 million 3-ounce servings, moving off the farm and onto the tables of Wisconsinites experiencing food insecurity.
Evers also participated in the Give-A-Ham Challenge, a social media campaign led by the National Pork Producers Council and Wisconsin Pork Association, which resulted in the donation of 5,168 pounds of ham in the state.