WEST ALLIS - The buzz at the Governor's Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction grew as the crowd filled seats and tables reserved for the auction reception on Aug. 9 at the Wisconsin State Fair.
However, a couple of years ago, the auction wasn't what it is now.
"There were a lot of empty seats and not much buzz," said Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Ben Brancel.
Brancel said Governor Scott Walker "created a stiff challenge" and brought enthusiasm, passion and interest" back into the Governor's Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction. Brancel applauded Walker for making a difference to the young people who received scholarships and to the state of Wisconsin.
The Governor's Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction has been supporting Wisconsin youth actively involved in agriculture for 50 years, according to the auction website.
But Walker turned the tables as he came onto the stage declaring it Ben Brancel Day at the Wisconsin State Fair in recognition of Brancel's Aug. 13 retirement.
"I want to say thank you to Ben Brancel who loves to be quiet about things and just gets the job done," Walker said. "For all of you who are farmers, farm families, support farmers, there is no better advocate in this state, dare I say no better advocate in this country, for farmers and farm families than Ben Brancel."
Walker said he's known Brancel for "just shy of 25 years."
"He and his family know what it's like to farm," said Walker.
Brancel's retirement will leave "difficult boots to fill," Walker added.
"He is one of the few people I know who is respected by every farm and agricultural related entity in this state," Walker continued.
Walker said Brancel "has poured his heart and his soul" into leading DATCP and is "someone who loves and cares for farm families."
Walker's office announced on Aug. 11, that DATCP Deputy Secretary Jeff Lyon will take over as interim secretary beginning Monday, Aug. 14..