It's official. Gov. Scott Walker officially declared June Dairy Month on Friday by participating in various agricultural tours across the state.
Calling it his 'Dairy Month Fly Around Tour,' the governor began his day at Alfalawn Farm in Menomonie in the morning, followed by a stop at the newly expanded Mullins Cheese plant in Knowlton. He then visited BelGioioso Cheese in Green Bay and wrapped up the tour at Rosy-Lane Holsteins in Watertown.
During his visits, he read and presented official June Dairy Month proclamations and talked about the importance of the dairy industry to the state.
He told the gathering of family at Rosy Lane Holsteins in Watertown, 'Our dairy industry is a vital component of Wisconsin's continued economic success.'
Walker illustrated that each dairy cow in Wisconsin generates over $34,000 every year in economic activity, most of which stays within our local communities to support businesses and schools.
He added that dairy is Wisconsin's largest segment of agriculture — of the $88.3 billion economic impact of agriculture, $43.4 billion is contributed by the dairy industry. The industry is also a major employer in the state, employing 79,000 people in jobs directly linked to dairy.
Wisconsin has around 9,500 dairy farms, more than any other state in the country, and he stressed that 96 percent of those farms are family owned and operated.
In 2015, Wisconsin produced 29.03 billion pounds of milk. Wisconsin cheesemakers also produce a quarter of the nation's cheese, ranking Wisconsin as the top cheese-producing state. The 1,200 licensed Wisconsin cheesemakers produce over 600 varieties, types and styles of cheese — nearly double the amount of any other state.
Walker mentioned the state's Dairy 30 x 30 Initiative and said by the year 2020, just four years from now, it is hoped that dairy producers will increase production to 30 billion pounds of milk to supply the growing demand for Wisconsin cheese.
'These investments lay the foundation for the future growth of Wisconsin's dairy industry and help to ensure our state remains 'America's Dairyland' for generations to come,' he said.
Walker also mentioned his recent trip to Mexico with Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel. While there, he spoke at a very large national dairy conference, and they talked to ag customers and attended an international dairy trade show this week. He said Wisconsin had 19 different cheeses to sample at that trade show.
'They know the reputation of Wisconsin's milk and cheese, and the cheese was very popular there,' he said.
Walker had a whirlwind tour of the host farm and met Lloyd and Daphne Holterman and their partners, Tim Strobel and Jordan Matthews, at Rosy Lane Holsteins, Watertown.
Their farm began 66 years ago when Lloyd's dad, Lloyd Sr., purchased his first two heifer calves and began to build a herd that now has offspring in all parts of the world. Lloyd Sr. was on hand at this event, along with other family members.
Today, with help from their many employees, Rosy-Lane Holsteins produces enough milk to make 8,000 pounds of cheese a day.
Milk from their farm goes into cheese production.
'The milk from our farm alone is enough for the company to fill a semi with cheese in less than a week,' Lloyd said.
Daphne Holterman commented on the farm's efforts to contribute to the economic engine of the community, do good things for the environment and maintain a business that is sustainable for the farm, employees and all the suppliers, consultants and others who contribute to its success.
Both Matthews and Strobel commended the work of the employees who strive to work safely and to produce a quality product.
The governor has been spending a good deal of time with dairy producers during June Dairy Month as he visits many dairy breakfasts throughout the state, serving food and visiting with those attending the events.