Editor’s note: A photo of Secretary Randy Romanski can be found here
A commentary by Secretary Randy Romanski of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)
MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin’s $104.8 billion agriculture industry is successful thanks to many people, from the processors who develop, package, and distribute goods to the consumers who keep demand for these products high. The foundation of this supply chain is our state’s farmers, who we recognize every October 12 on National Farmers Day.
Agriculture in Wisconsin is more than just a once-a-year celebration. The state is home to more than 64,000 farms, and those operations don’t run themselves. It’s the dedicated farmers and farm workers who work day in and day out to keep those farms thriving. They work tirelessly to grow crops, care for their animals, preserve our soil and water, and feed the world.
Each Wisconsin farm is unique and produces a wide variety of crops and products. It is this diversity that makes us strong. We are number one in the nation for the production of cheese, cranberries, ginseng, and snap beans for processing, among other commodities, and are also one of the top producers of milk, potatoes, sweet corn, green peas, carrots, and tart cherries.
In Wisconsin, 96 percent of our farms are family owned, meaning these businesses are often multigenerational family affairs, with family members helping out in one way or another. Overall, the state’s agriculture industry contributes 435,700 jobs. Of those, 154,000 are on-farm production jobs. To say that agriculture is central to Wisconsin’s heritage and economy is an understatement.
While we have a lot of numbers to be proud of, we are most proud of our farmers. These hardworking individuals connect to their communities through organizations like FFA, 4-H, and producer-led watershed groups, as well as events like county fairs, dairy breakfasts, and field days. They bond and connect with consumers at local markets and through community supported agriculture programs, helping close the gap between consumers and their food. As the calendar turns month to month and year to year, they find themselves facing new challenges – drought, supply chain issues, flooding, and unpredictable commodity prices. But one thing is for certain: Wisconsin farmers are resilient.
Just as our state’s farmers provide for us, we, too, must provide for them. Through the Wisconsin Farm Center, DATCP offers a number of helpful services, including financial consulting, transition planning, veteran farmer assistance, mental health counseling, and more, all of which are free and confidential. DATCP is here to serve as a resource to farmers. Please spread the word about the Wisconsin Farm Center services. Information is available online at https://farmcenter.wi.gov or by phone at (800) 942-2474.
Whether you’re a farmer, are affiliated with the agriculture industry in some other way, or are a consumer, I ask you to join me and my DATCP colleagues in celebrating Wisconsin’s farmers not only on National Farmers Day, but every day. Thank you, Wisconsin farmers.