COLUMNISTS

Looking back and looking ahead to 2023

Randy Romanski
Randy Romanski

Happy holidays to you and your families. For many, it is a season of joy and giving to end a productive and busy year. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is looking ahead to 2023 after a year of both addressing challenges and building on opportunities in 2022.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza was first detected in a commercial facility in March of this year, and our small but mighty team in the Division of Animal Health spent much of the year busy with the disease response. Staff also spent countless hours conducting outreach with impacted communities, sharing resources on biosecurity, and speaking directly with poultry producers. 

DATCP’s Weights and Measures Metrology Laboratory in Madison was recognized by the National Institute of Standards and Technology as capable of Mass Echelon II measurements, improving calibration capabilities for high precision tools such as jewelry scales. This new Mass Echelon II recognition will help support consumer confidence so when they buy precious metals like gold, spices such as saffron and vanilla, or pharmaceutical medications, they know they’re getting what they paid for.

This year, many opportunities arose through the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports. This program was proposed by Governor Evers in his budget, and the Governor and legislature eventually agreed to invest up to five million dollars over five years to increase the exports of Wisconsin agricultural goods. This year, DATCP’s International Agribusiness Center offered new grant opportunities, held a Global Dairy Symposium at the World Dairy Expo, promoted Wisconsin products in several different countries, and launched the Wisconsin Agricultural Export Advisory Council.

Meat Talent Development remained a priority this year. DATCP announced new programs in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, offered reimbursement for a food safety training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and invested in meat education through the Wisconsin Technical College System. Additionally, utilizing the $10 million allocated by Gov. Evers for this purpose, DATCP provided grants to meat and poultry processing facilities seeking to increase throughput and improve the long-term viability of the state’s livestock and meat processing industries.

DATCP customers may have also noticed an internal focus on the agency’s organization and function. This year, we continued to make IT improvements. These included bringing additional processes and applications online for easier access by DATCP’s customers across the state. We also restructured some of our teams so that we could provide better service to you and your communities.

While the days are short during this time of year, I couldn’t be more grateful to be filling them with these projects and many more. Connecting the dots with you, your communities, and stakeholders across the state was a highlight of my year. I am proud of the staff at DATCP and the progress they’ve made this year. We look forward to continuing to be a resource to you all in 2023.

Romanski is Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection