Did you know Wisconsin's specialty crop production and processing account for more than $6 billion in economic activity $6.4 billion, to be exact, and almost 35,000 jobs across the state.
According to the UW-Madison Extension website, www.vegetables.wisc.edu, these statistics account for three percent of Wisconsin's overall economy and one percent of jobs statewide, including both direct and induced impacts.
"Whether it's working directly in the field, in a grocery store, developing and using new technologies, or for an Association like the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, the professional opportunities agriculture provides are essential and extensive," says WPVGA Executive Director Duane Maatz. "They're opportunities that directly impact 10 percent of Wisconsin's workforce."
When it comes to snap beans, sweet corn, peas and carrots, Wisconsin hits a home run. In 2013, the Badger State ranked 3rd in harvested acreage for processing vegetables, and "second in production and value of production" according to 2013 Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics.
Wisconsin also leads the nation in snap bean production, providing more than 40 percent of the U.S. crop. Wisconsin ranks 3rd in the country in the production of processed carrots and 3rd for processing sweet corn and peas. The state also remains 3rd in the nation for potato production, providing over 2.5 billion pounds of potatoes each year.
"All facts that are quite impressive for a state normally recognized for its dairy products. It's a diverse collection of crops that combine to make Wisconsin a key component in the nation's food security," Maatz says. "Every year, we are committed to providing the safest, highest quality potatoes and vegetables at affordable prices."
So the next time you buy a can of vegetables or bag of potatoes, do your best to make sure they come from Wisconsin. After all, buying locally provides you with the freshest product possible and boosts your local economy.
WPVGA is a non-profit organization that represents and promotes state potato and vegetable growers. They currently represent more than 300 members and affiliates. For more information on their commitment to sustainable agriculture, jobs and water use, visit www.wisconsinpotatoes.com.