Summary of Agricultural Development Programs
The Agricultural Development Division works to grow Wisconsin agriculture and related commerce. Wisconsin’s $59 billion agriculture and food sector accounts for 10% of the jobs in the state.
The division works to develop, grow and diversify Wisconsin agriculture, food and related businesses. Among other things, the division
- Promotes value-added development and diversification to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for Wisconsin agriculture.
- Promotes the local sale and consumption of Wisconsin-grown and processed agricultural products.
- Promotes product and process innovation, so that Wisconsin agriculture and food businesses can compete effectively and take advantage of new consumer markets.
- Promotes Wisconsin’s emerging bio-economy.
- Promotes development of key sectors such as dairy, livestock, aquaculture, grazing and organics.
- Coordinates technical assistance, especially to small- and medium-sized businesses.
Farm Services and Sector Development:
The division operates the Wisconsin Farm Center, which provides needed information and support to farmers and their families. The Farm Center helps beginning, distressed and transitioning farmers, and helps address critical economic and social needs of farm families. The Farm Center provides the following services, in cooperation with other partners from the university, government and the private sector:
- Farm Center Hotline (1-800-942-2474). The hotline offers crisis assistance, referrals and information.
- Information and services to beginning, distressed and transitioning farmers:
- Beginning farmer information and networking support.
- Entry-exit data base to facilitate purchases and sales of Wisconsin farms.
- Transition teams to assist in entry-exit transitions.
- Technical assistance and outreach.
- Help in writing business plans and obtaining financing.
- Help working with lenders on problem loans.
- Help in arranging rental and operating agreements.
- Job training information for displaced farmers.
- Counseling, outreach and information on issues of direct concern to farmers, including financial, tax, health care and retirement information.
- Wisconsin farm mediation and arbitration program, including the training and deployment of volunteer farm credit advisors and mediators.
- Support and risk management services for socially disadvantaged farmers including women, minority and immigrant farmers.
- Referrals to other state and local services.
- Special farm assistance projects (e.g., drought relief) as necessary.
Rural Electric Power Services
The Farm Center administers a Rural Electric Power Services program in cooperation with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. The program addresses stray voltage problems that can adversely affect cattle and milk production on dairy farms. Under the program, a stray voltage analysis team evaluates individual stray voltage problems and recommends possible solutions.
As part of a farm evaluation, the program offers related herd health diagnostic services. Veterinarians provide herd and livestock diagnostics, milking and dairy equipment diagnostics, and feed and nutritional value diagnostics. The veterinarians work closely with local farm service providers to furnish other information and services.
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Wisconsin’s dairy industry contributes over $26.5 billion to the state economy, but faces strong competitive challenges. The division provides technical assistance to producers and processors looking for ways to add value and increase profitability. The Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 Initiative works to meet the growing demand of the marketplace and improve the long-term viability of Wisconsin's dairy industry.
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The division is working with other partners, including the state Office of Energy Independence, to promote Wisconsin bio-industry development. DATCP provides research assistance and information and helps ensure a coordinated approach to bio-industry development.
Recent bio-fuel legislation (2009 Wis. Act 401) included responsibilities and authority for DATCP.
Agricultural Business Development; Technical Assistance
The division provides technical assistance to agricultural entrepreneurs who want to start a value-added business or develop innovative processes or products. The division partners with the University of Wisconsin-Extension in supporting the Agricultural Innovation Center, which trains extension agents and other business counselors to assist agricultural entrepreneurs.
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Responding to industry needs, the division expanded technical support to Wisconsin livestock producers and processors. In recent years, the division:
- Helped launch the Wisconsin Livestock and Meat Information Center. The web-based center brings together information from DATCP, the University of Wisconsin College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the University of Wisconsin-Extension.
- Helped launch a Preconditioned Feeder Calf Program to ensure calf quality and health. DATCP launched this program, in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, with strong industry support.
- Created the Specialty Meat Development Center, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to growing specialty meat businesses in Wisconsin.
Managed grazing offers a low-cost, environmentally sound approach to dairy and livestock production. The division works to develop Wisconsin’s grazing sector, in cooperation with the Grazing Lands Consultation Initiative. Among other things, the division has awarded federally-funded grants for technical assistance, education and research related to managed grazing. The division is working with nearly 100 grass-fed beef producers to create a Wisconsin-based marketing cooperative, and supports projects to link dairy graziers with specialty cheesemakers.
Wisconsin is a national leader in organic food production. Wisconsin has more organic dairy and livestock operations than any other state, and ranks second in total number of organic farms. The number of Wisconsin organic farms, processors and distributors has grown dramatically in the last decade.
The division works to develop Wisconsin’s organics sector, in consultation with the Organic Advisory Council. Among other things, the division:
- Provides information and technical assistance to organic growers and processors.
- Works to strengthen organic veterinary services and processing capacity.
- Helps organic growers find ways to reduce risk and improve profitability.
- Awards federally-funded cost-share grants to help organic growers pay for the annual cost of organic certification.
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The division coordinates aquaculture development efforts with the Wisconsin Aquaculture Industry Advisory Council, the UW-Extension, UW-Stevens Point, the Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility, and DATCP’s Animal Health Division.
Agricultural Market Development:
International Market Development
The division works to facilitate international export of Wisconsin agricultural products. The division:
- Identifies Wisconsin agricultural market development opportunities around the world.
- Provides international market development support, coordination and technical expertise.
- Arranges trade missions, trade shows and other marketing opportunities.
- Works with foreign governments to facilitate agricultural development initiatives.
- Hosts foreign buyers, government officials and trade delegations.
- Coordinates and helps sponsor international events, to showcase Wisconsin agricultural products.
- Provides export consultation to small- and medium-sized agribusinesses.
- Provides marketing seminars and other training.
- Publishes information about international agricultural market development.
Regional and Local Development
The division works to develop regional and local markets for Wisconsin agricultural products. Programs include the following:
- Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin is a program to promote local and regional sales of Wisconsin products, and keep food dollars in Wisconsin.
- Something Special from Wisconsin™ is a logo and marketing program to promote Wisconsin products. Over 400 companies use the logo on their product labels and promotional materials.
- SavorWisconsin is an on-line promotional directory showcasing producers and retailers of Wisconsin agricultural products. The directory helps connect buyers with Wisconsin sellers.
- Alice in Dairyland. Each year, a new “Alice” promotes public understanding of Wisconsin agriculture. “Alice” is chosen and serves as a contract public relations professional. “Alice” is a widely recognized representative of Wisconsin agriculture, and receives substantial media coverage.
- Farm to School. The division works with the Department of Public Instruction and the federal AmeriCorps program to help bring nutritional information and local foods to participating school districts across the state.
- County and District Fairs. The division assists county and district fairs, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Association of Fairs. The division registers fair judges, distributes state aids, and supervises the use of state aids for premium awards. The division also works with the State Fair Park Board (attached to the Department of Tourism) to display and promote agriculture at the Wisconsin State Fair.
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DATCP may adopt marketing orders for Wisconsin agricultural commodities, with the approval of commodity producers. Under a marketing order, commodity producers pay assessments to fund market development, research and educational programs. Currently, there are marketing orders for milk, corn, soybeans, potatoes, ginseng, cherries and cranberries.
Producers vote to approve marketing orders and elect marketing boards. Elected marketing boards collect and administer marketing order assessments. DATCP administers marketing order referenda and elections, and helps marketing boards perform their obligations under the marketing orders. DATCP monitors marketing board operations to ensure that they comply with state law.
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