MADISON, Wis. — On Dec. 3, Gov. Tony Evers signed Assembly Bill 314, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 92, relating to promoting the export of Wisconsin’s agricultural and agribusiness products. Under Wisconsin Act 92, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection’s Center for International Agribusiness Marketing will work with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation on a plan to increase the value of Wisconsin’s milk and dairy, meat, crop, and other product exports by 25 percent by June 30, 2026.
The bill is modeled after legislation originally proposed by Gov. Evers during his 2020 State of the State address, during which the governor announced a package of legislation and a special session of the Legislature as part of a three-pronged plan to support and invest in Wisconsin’s farmers and rural communities.
“Wisconsin’s robust agricultural and agribusiness exports are not only a cornerstone of our state’s economy but our Wisconsin way of life,” said Gov. Evers. “We started this work to promote and increase Wisconsin’s product exports even before the pandemic to help support our farmers and our rural communities, and I’m proud this legislation has finally made it to my desk.
“As we continue working to bounce back and recover from this pandemic, it’s never been more important to support and promote our state’s agricultural products and exports so we can ensure the success of our agricultural industry, and our farmers, producers, and their families who’ve been the backbone of our state for generations.”
The Legislature ultimately failed to pass Gov. Evers’ initial special session proposal and send it to the governor’s desk for his signature. Nevertheless, Gov. Evers again proposed a similar measure in his Badger Bounceback Agenda, his 2021-23 biennial budget proposal, to support Wisconsin’s agricultural industry and help ensure the industry’s successful statewide economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The provision was ultimately removed from the governor’s budget by Republicans in the Legislature who went on to introduce Assembly Bill 314 as stand-alone legislation.
Assembly Bill 314, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 92:
- Requires the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to work collaboratively with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to increase the export of agricultural and agribusiness products over the next five years.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau applauded the Governor for his support of the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports.
“These investments help create long-term relationships with export markets that are sure to pay dividends for Wisconsin agriculture and our local communities in the years ahead,” said Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Krentz. “This legislation will help support the diverse commodities grown in Wisconsin through much needed market access and support.”
The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) thanked Gov. Evers for signing the bill. It was unanimously approved by both houses of the legislature earlier this fall, following over a year of compelling advocacy from WCMA members and extensive bipartisan collaboration.
“This investment is a smart, necessary boost that will benefit not only our dairy industry, but the state’s entire economy,” said WCMA Executive Director John Umhoefer. “We’re grateful for the leadership of Governor Evers, Wisconsin State Senator Joan Ballweg, and Wisconsin State Representative Tony Kurtz working in united purpose to make this legislation a reality.”
The bill specifies that $2.5 million, or half the total funds appropriated, will be used to increase the export sales of milk, cheese, yogurt, whey, and other dairy products.
“Thanks to this funding, cheesemakers will have access to more tools and assistance to help them navigate the challenging logistics of exporting. As they find success in new markets, we’ll see both short- and long-term benefits for dairy processors and farmers alike,” added Paul Scharfman, CEO of Specialty Cheese Company.
The Dairy Business Association (DBA) congratulated state lawmakers and the governor today for creating a program aimed at increasing exports of dairy, meat and other agricultural products.
“The strength of Wisconsin’s dairy economy rests in large part on the opportunities we have to sell more of our high-quality products around the globe,” DBA President Amy Penterman, a dairy farmer in Thorp, said. “This investment will help us not only remain competitive in the global marketplace but be a leader.”
— Office of the Governor, State of Wisconsin
— Wisconsin Farm Bureau
— Dairy Business Association
— Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association