A commentary by Secretary Randy Romanski of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)
MADISON, Wis. – June Dairy Month is upon us, and it is certainly something people across our state can be proud of. June Dairy Month is an extra opportunity to celebrate a few of the things Wisconsin is known for— producing, processing, and consuming dairy. In 2021, Wisconsin was ranked first in total cheese production with a whopping 3.47 billion pounds of over 600 different kinds of cheese. This accounts for 25% of total United States cheese production. Wisconsin also ranks first in the nation for the production of dry whey for human consumption, and in 2020, our state produced more than 280 million pounds of it. This dairy month, I ask you to join me in celebrating and thanking those involved with the dairy industry.
Over the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a sizeable toll on the dairy industry, much like many others. Even when times were tough, the industry persevered and pushed on. Each company, farm, and dairy business had to be resilient through this pandemic, and our agribusinesses once again epitomized the phrase ‘adapt and overcome’.
Not only has Wisconsin’s dairy industry handled the problems that come their way, but the industry is constantly improving and investing in their processes. These improvements and modernizations are crucial to the long-term viability of our success, which is why Governor Evers doubled the funding for the Dairy Processor Grants in his recent budget. The supports given through these grants allow Wisconsin dairy processors to improve profitability and support innovative changes to their agribusiness. We recently announced the newest recipients of the program, bringing the total to 85 funded proposals since 2014.
Wisconsin’s future in the dairy industry depends on our youth. I know that our future is in good hands from my conversations with FFA and 4H participants, county fairs, and through the Wisconsin Agriculture Youth Council. The 30 students who previously served on DATCP’s Wisconsin Agriculture Youth Council all show an eager passion for agriculture and I know that as the council enters its third year this fall, these young people will do amazing things for our agriculture industry — including dairy — in their lifetimes.
However, research is just as important as the engagement of Wisconsin’s youth. Researching new and innovative ways to keep the dairy industry on a forward path is crucial. The Dairy Innovation Hub, funded through Governor Evers’ 2019-21 budget, furthers dairy research at each of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Platteville, and River Falls campuses to ensure Wisconsin cows, management systems, and products meet the needs of the future.
In all, June Dairy month is something to celebrate here in Wisconsin. Every step and part of the industry holds its own importance, from cow to consumer. I hope everyone will take a moment to recognize and thank those who work to keep every link in the dairy chain running smoothly. If one thing is for certain, America’s Dairyland is strong.