Telling the Story of Wisconsin Agriculture

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

Ahead of National Ag Day on March 19, I have had the opportunity to share the story of Wisconsin agriculture with industry groups, legislators, as well as consumers. Telling the story of Wisconsin agriculture is important for each of us as the impacts of this industry are far-reaching. Even those who are unfamiliar with how a cheese curd is made or how cranberries are grown are impacted by the food, fuel, and fiber produced by people in Wisconsin agriculture.

In Wisconsin, agriculture is engrained in our way of life. Most notably, we must all eat to survive. Our farmers produce delicious and nutritious vegetables, fruit, and dairy and meat products. While the food produced here is enjoyed within the state’s borders, Wisconsin products are also shipped to other states and countries. Wisconsin’s food, fuel, and fiber products shine a spotlight on our state as they are exported around the world with the help of the state’s Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports.

Part of the story of Wisconsin agriculture is also how farmers interact with our natural resources. As part of their agricultural practices, farmers are stewards of the land. They work throughout the state to protect the soil and water. By utilizing programs such as the producer-led watershed protection program, Nitrogen Optimization Pilot Program, and also cover crop program, producers take care of the land that takes care of them. Producers have shared with me that enrolling in these programs makes sense.

About one in nine jobs in our state are related to the agriculture industry. Our farms support communities across the state. Governor Evers announced that 2024 is the Year of the Worker. Agriculture is committed to its current and future workers. To continue to prepare our workforce, DATCP is recruiting for the next Wisconsin Agriculture Youth Council. We are actively engaged in agriculture education discussions with industry and also state agencies.

DATCP is also continuing our work on the Meat Talent Development program. This includes curriculum and processing kits for high schools in the state. It also includes tuition reimbursement for Wisconsin technical colleges and humane handling and food safety trainings for those already employed in the meat industry. This program is just one of the ways we are working to support and also build the agriculture workforce for years to come.

Our lives are positively impacted by agriculture on a daily basis. Our communities, dinner tables, and clothes would be much different were it not for hardworking farmers. This National Ag Day, I encourage you to talk to your friends, family, and neighbors about the importance of agriculture. It’s an important story that impacts each of us.