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Agriculture important to local economy, UW-Madison extension division says

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer
A UW-Madison Extension Division study found that 58% of Wisconsin counties generate over $500 million in industry sales, while 18 counties generate over $32 million in property and income taxes as well as industry sales.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s extension division is reiterating the importance of agriculture and farming within the Wisconsin economy through research, according to a press release.

Overall, the 2017 study found that agriculture is a nearly $105 billion industry in Wisconsin, representing over 16% of the state total and employing over 435,000 people. The extension division says farmers are still working hard through the global pandemic, despite economic fallout.

“Although data for the county reports does not reflect activity in the recent months, it provides a basis and perspective of agriculture trends,” said Heidi Johnson, Extension Agriculture Institute Director.

Fifty-eight percent of Wisconsin counties generate over $500 million in industry sales, while 18 counties generate over $32 million in property and income taxes as well as industry sales, the study found.

The study also found that agriculture impacts over 3,000 jobs in 36 counties, and in 5 of those counties, over 10,000 people are employed by the agriculture industry in some way.

The study was done by Steven Deller, Division of Extension community development economist and professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at UW–Madison. He has examined the economic impact of agriculture on local economies within the state every 5 years since 1990, according to a release from 2019.

Director of the Division of Extension Karl Martin says we shouldn’t forget about the significant effects these industries have on our economy at the county level.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on jobs and businesses throughout the state – including agriculture, Wisconsin farmers and farm businesses continue to provide food for local and global consumers,” Martin said in the release.

The release said that the extension division worked with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau to accomplish the study.