Support Dairy This June

The following is a commentary by Secretary Romanski of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

For some, June kicks off the summer months as the weather gets warmer and school is finishing up for the year. But for those in Wisconsin, June celebrates an entire industry that is central to Wisconsin’s communities, culture, and history. In America’s Dairyland, our dairy industry is truly unique. Due to the hard work of industry, Wisconsinites are able to wear the title of America’s Dairyland with pride and gratitude.

June Dairy Month is a monthlong celebration and recognition of dairy farmers and each person who works to get dairy products from the farm gate to dinner plates across the world. However, this month means so much more than just enjoying all types of cheese, milk, ice cream, and other dairy products. It is also a month to reflect upon the dairy industry’s contributions to our economy, workforce, culture, and future.

Wisconsin is home to about 5,500 dairy farms, which is more than any other state. On each of these farms, hardworking people care for their animals, feed their communities, and are stewards of the land and water. At the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), we work to serve as a resource to agriculture and each of our dairy farmers. This comes in many forms, including Dairy Processor Grants and the Wisconsin Farm Center. This year, with cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) in cattle in some states across the country, DATCP has been working with the industry to safeguard our state from this disease event including providing biosecurity resources and information about support for dairy farms. DATCP’s small but mighty Division of Animal Health are coordinating with producers to help Wisconsin’s 1.28 million cows stay happy and healthy.

To keep our dairy industry as one of Wisconsin’s agricultural strengths, we also look to the future. Agriculture employs more than 11 percent of the state’s total employment, and each year we welcome individuals into the agricultural workforce. Some grew up in agriculture, while others found a sense of belonging and chose to join this community. Governor Evers has continued to support education, including agricultural education, to do what’s best for our kids and the future of Wisconsin by helping these students grow their passion for agriculture and prepare for a career in the industry.

Governor Evers and the Legislature have also supported expanding our dairy exports and, through the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports, DATCP has been partnering with the industry to enhance trade opportunities for Wisconsin’s dairy, crop, and meat industries. I recently led a trade mission to Santiago and Osorno in Chile with participants from six Wisconsin companies and organizations including Bioionix, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, GENEX, La Crosse Distilling Co., Moundview Dairy, and Masters Gallery Foods. On this mission, we engaged in market briefings, met with local buyers and distributors, and developed business relationships and strategies for Chile.

This month and beyond, DATCP will continue to serve as a resource to Wisconsin’s hardworking dairy industry. To do your part this June Dairy Month, please try a new Wisconsin cheese, buy some whey powder, and drink some extra milk. I also encourage you to talk to current and future generations of dairy farmers. Wisconsin has much to celebrate, and our farmers know firsthand about the past, present, and future of America’s Dairyland.