Dairy 2020 program revamped for new decade
Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday (March 13) announced a plan to strengthen Wisconsin’s dairy industry through the “Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20” program at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
He talked about the plan at the annual business conference of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin in Madison.
The goal of the program, he said, is to improve the long-term viability of Wisconsin’s dairy industry through services aimed at achieving an annual milk production of 30 billion pounds by 2020 to meet the growing demand of processors.
“In 2011, Wisconsin produced 26.1 billion pounds of milk, a growth of less than 1 percent. Our state’s dairy processors need more milk to keep up with the consumer demand from around the world for our award-winning cheeses. The Grow Wisconsin Dairy Team is prepared to assist dairy farmers to make that happen,” he said.
The Dairy 2020 Program, begun by Gov. Tommy Thompson, had similar goals and had been housed at the Department of Commerce.
But when that department was eliminated and changed to an economic development authority, the dairy program was moved to DATCP. Until now its direction hadn’t been charted. The new program, Walker said, will replace the Dairy 2020 program and utilize its annual appropriation.
Walker said new resources will be made available for dairy farmers to increase profitability as well as create jobs.
Dairy farmers will have access to a toll-free number of 855-WIDAIRY (855-943-2479) to connect with resources and services as well as Grow Wisconsin Dairy Grants to assist in planning, preparation and improving dairy profit.
Farm Bureau endorses program
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation said Tuesday that it “enthusiastically endorses” the Dairy 30x20 Initiative that was announced by the governor.
“A growing business is a healthy business and therefore we are very pleased with Gov. Walker’s commitment to grow Wisconsin’s dairy industry,” said Bill Bruins, Farm Bureau president.
Bruins, a dairy farmer from Fond du Lac County who served on the task force that developed the Dairy 30x20 Initiative, noted the importance of farmers, processors and supporting agribusinesses in capturing value-added market opportunities.
Bruins said the goal of increasing Wisconsin’s annual milk production to 30 billion pounds by the year 2020 is realistic through a combination of increasing productivity within Wisconsin’s current milking herd and by adding cows.
In 2011, Wisconsin’s herd of 1.26 million milk cows produced 26.1 billion pounds of milk on 11,000 dairy farms.
“With 2 percent annual growth, we would add 500 million pounds of milk per year,” he said. “This could be accomplished by adding 25,000 cows with a 20,000-pound herd average.
“When you consider that each milk cow generates $20,000 in annual economic activity, the addition of 25,000 cows will create $5 billion in additional economic activity for America’s Dairyland.”
Bruins said it’s vital that all players in the dairy industry and state government are “laser-focused” on reaching the initiative’s goal of 30 billion pounds of milk by the year 2020.
“This includes the University of Wisconsin Extension, UW-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and all other universities and technical colleges, our state Legislature, and state agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Transportation.”
Cooperative Network sees need for program
Cooperative Network also said it recognizes the need to supply Wisconsin’s dairy processors with more milk and endorsed the Dairy 30x20 Initiative, saying it will improve the long-term viability of the state’s dairy industry.
“Wisconsin’s dairy cooperatives market more than 80 percent of the milk produced in the state, and manufacture 60 percent of the state’s cheese,” said Cooperative Network President and CEO Bill Oemichen. “This commitment to grow our industry and assist dairy farmers, regardless of size or type, will ensure a bright future for this $26.5 billion industry.”
In 2011, the state’s dairy farmers produced 26.1 billion pounds, which was enough to meet only about 90 percent of milk volume needs at the state’s processing plants, he added.
Secretary Ben Brancel, at DATCP, has led discussions with dairy industry leaders for months to develop this direction for the Grow Wisconsin Dairy Team and identify the needed resources.
Organizations involved in the discussions included the: Dairy Business Association, Cooperative Network, Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Wisconsin National Farmers Organization, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Wisconsin Dairy Products Association, GrassWorks, Inc, UW Extension, the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research and the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Profitability.