Dairy cattle graze on a farm in Lodi, Wisconsin.

Dairy cattle graze on a farm in Lodi, Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, agriculture reigns supreme. Contributing $88 billion to the economy annually, the state’s robust industry provides 413,500 jobs. In fact, one in every nine jobs in Wisconsin is related to agriculture, and every job in agriculture supports another 1.46 jobs in the state.

With 69,000 farms spreading across 14.5 million acres of farmland, Wisconsin’s farmers produce various commodities including milk and dairy products, corn, cattle and calves, soybeans, potatoes, and more. Wisconsin is a top player for the nation, too, ranking first in the production of cheese, milk goats, mink pelts, cranberries and snap beans for processing.

While Americans get to enjoy the fruits of Wisconsin farmers’ labor, the rest of the world does, too. The state exports agricultural goods including dairy products, denatured ethanol, beer, mink pelts, cereal grains, food ingredients and animal hides, and is the nation’s top exporter of ginseng root. Wisconsin is also internationally known for exceptional bovine genetics.

Several organic agricultural companies call Wisconsin home, such as Sassy Cow Creamery, located in Columbus, Wis., which has been owned and operated by the Baerwolf family since 1946. Recognizing the consumer interest in organic foods, they have the unique situation of managing two distinct herds, one traditional and one organic, with around 550 cows total. They offer a variety of milk and ice cream products at their farmstead creamery as well as at many locations around the region.

Wisconsin maintains a strong agriculture industry, while also working to prepare future generations of agriculture leaders. Wisconsin 4-H is one example of a key program teaching youth leadership, citizenship and life skills through agricultural activities, with about 50,000 members enrolled in clubs across the state. Wisconsin FFA, with over 19,180 members, also aims to help students with personal growth, develop their potential and get a head start on their careers through agricultural education. To learn more about these programs, visit uwex.edu/ces/4h and wisconsinffa.org.

See Also:  100 Years of Wisconsin 4-H

Wisconsin commodities [INFOGRAPHIC]

Clean Sweep

Getting rid of hazardous materials and unwanted prescriptions is easy thanks to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Through the Clean Sweep program, counties and municipalities can apply for grants to safely dispose of agricultural pesticides and farm chemicals, hazardous household wastes and unwanted prescription drugs. This not only helps the environment but also protects public health. To date, every one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties has held at least one Clean Sweep, as well as eight tribal nations and many cities, towns and villages.

The Oneida Nation serves as a great example of a community utilizing the program. They’ve held door-to-door pickups for elderly or disabled members, organized workshops on recycling, and involved youth in the effort.

Learn more about the Clean Sweep program and how to apply at datcp.wi.gov.

The Big Cheese

In 2014, Wisconsin’s total cheese production was a whopping 2.91 billion pounds. Mozzarella came out on top as the most widely produced type, followed by cheddar and other Italian varieties.

Wisconsin produces more than 600 kinds of cheese from the traditional such as cheddar, Swiss, American and colby to specialty cheeses like Romano, provolone and Asiago.

From Field To Tray

With farm to school programs growing across the state, Wisconsin youth are gaining more than just brainpower at school. The Wisconsin Farm to School program strengthens local economies by expanding markets for Wisconsin agricultural producers; promotes healthy eating habits for students; and teaches children about agriculture, food and nutrition at an early age.

The Wisconsin Farm to School Program helps support the 235 district-level farm to school programs in Wisconsin. Collectively, these school districts spent more than $9.5 million on local foods during the 2012-13 school year.

See Also:  Wisconsin's Top Agricultural Commodities

One component of the Wisconsin Farm to School Program is the AmeriCorps Farm to School Program, which places AmeriCorps members in 16 host sites across the state. They serve more than 40 school districts in 16 counties.

For more information on the program, visit datcp.wi.gov.


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