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Walker: Wisconsin's dairy industry must grow

Cow (Reuters)
Cow (Reuters)

DALLAS, Wis (WRN)  Wisconsin is known worldwide as America’s Dairyland, yet Governor Scott Walker says the state doesn’t have enough milk to meet the demand of our current cheesemakers. “A lot of people don’t realize right now, for most of our cheesemakers, we’re importing about 10 percent of our milk supply.”

The governor has an aggressive goal of increasing milk production in the state. At Farm Technology Days last week, Walker discussed his “Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30X20″ plan, which aims to improve the long-term viability of the state’s dairy industry by achieving an annual milk production of 30 billion pounds by 2020 to meet the growing demand of the marketplace.

Walker says reaction from cheesemakers in the state since the plan was announced last year has been positive. “I think there’s a feeling … that that’s a good goal — it’s an agressive goal, but it’s a good goal. It’s one we’re gonna need to meet if we’re gonna continue to be not only America’s Dairyland but the global leader when when it comes to cheese production.”

It’s important to lay the foundation for future growth by investing in young farmers and use new technologies to increase productivity. So far, the 30×20 plan has distributed nearly $200,000 in grants to over 40 recipients across the state.

Wisconsin is the top cheese producing state in the nation, and makes nearly half of all specialty cheese in the United States. Wisconsin’s dairy industry contributes more than $26.5 billion to our economy every year and employs more than 146,000 people.

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