May 1, 2019: Something Special
from Wisconsin Program Lives Up to Its Name
By: Krista Knigge - Administrator, Division of Agricultural Development
Spring is a time of energy, creativity and new beginnings, and for many of the nearly 500 members of the Something Special
from Wisconsin™ (SSfW™) program, it also means it's time to renew their memberships in a truly special brand identity program that helps SSfW members stand out from the competition.
Founded in 1983 and administered by DATCP's Division of Agricultural Development, SSfW is one of several local food-focused programs administered by the agency. It uses an easily recognizable red, white and yellow logo to provide a quick and reliable way to identify genuine Wisconsin products and services at grocery stores, retail outlets, farmers markets and restaurants throughout the state and nation and around the globe.
The logo gives SSfW members a “Wisconsin" brand identity that consumers recognize as top quality and high value. It brings instant recognition and credibility and builds upon Wisconsin's reputation for providing the finest products and services available.
Increasingly, consumers want to know where their food comes from. Not surprisingly, statistics show that SSfW member businesses are likely to have a strong competitive edge over those without the logo, as more than 70 percent of Wisconsin consumers are more likely to purchase a product made or grown in the state.
In addition to the logo, there are several other benefits to joining the program. All member companies gain more market exposure with the program by being listed in the SSfW Membership Directory published on DATCP's website. Another benefit is the chance to participate in trade shows and exhibits at a reduced cost, saving companies hundreds of dollars in booth fees.
Wisconsin's agricultural ambassador, Alice in Dairyland, features SSfW companies in media interviews and promotional activities around the state. New members also receive a welcome kit containing free banners, buttons, stickers, bags and signage -- all displaying the popular logo.
With so much to offer, Something Special
from Wisconsin is something special indeed! It's no surprise why so many providers of Wisconsin products and services have joined the effort to incorporate the red, white and yellow logo into their branding.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about becoming a member, visit the SSfW website:
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April 1, 2019: This Day and Every Day, Avoid Being Phooled by Phishing Emails
By: Lara Sutherlin - Administrator, Division of Trade and Consumer Protection
Today is a day filled with pranks, jokes and gags. For the goofballs and tricksters in our lives, April Fools’ Day is like Super Bowl Sunday. For those of us who aren’t wild about being pranked, April 2nd comes as a relief.
Most April Fools' gags are harmless, but there are some tricksters out there with bad intent, an eye on your wallet or identity, and no concern for what day it is. April 1st, September 9th, June 12th…it doesn’t matter what the calendar says, they will set up traps every day to try and fool us.
For scammers like these, there is no better tool than the phishing email. They are cheap, easy to distribute widely, and effective. Like real fishing, scammers will cast out these emails with the hopes that you will bite. If they can reel you in, they get a payday (at your expense).
Fake shipment emails. Fake account update emails. Fake gift card offer emails. Emails with fake invoices. There are any number of ways these scammers will try to grab your attention and get you to send them money or personal information. Or they prompt you to click a link or download an attachment – either action opens your system up to malware.
So, how can you stay protected?
For starters, you can download DATCP’s free fact sheet on phishing scams. Stay suspicious of too-good-to-be-true emails and unsolicited emails from major companies. Most companies will not send you emails unless you opted in for their messages. If you do get unsolicited emails from major retailers or shipping companies (like FedEx, Amazon, Walmart, the U.S. Postal Service, etc.), keep an eye out for poor grammar and awkward language. And, of course, any email that contains a threat is likely an attempt to get you to take an immediate and dangerous action - like clicking a link or opening an attachment to find out why you are being attacked.
Phishing emails are a type of scam DATCP warns about often, because they are so common. You can help us with our message by sharing what you’ve learned with others. No one wants to be made a fool (on April 1st or otherwise), so help your friends and family stay protected by getting the word out about these scams. Don’t take the bait!
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March 14, 2019: National Ag Day
By: DATCP Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff
About one in nine people working in Wisconsin holds a job related to agriculture. Agriculture is the cornerstone – one of the most important components of our state’s strong and diverse economy. March 14, National Ag Day, is an opportunity for all of us – those of us who are from the farm and those who are not – to take a moment and reflect on the importance of agriculture and our state’s family farmers in our day-to-day lives.
Agriculture is not just the farms and the fields we see as we drive along the interstate or back roads. It is more than just the farmers’ markets or the days you remember spending on your grandparents’ farm. It’s more than the $88 billion that agriculture brings into Wisconsin every year. It’s the farm families that grow our crops and care for our livestock. It’s the local schools and libraries where their children learn, and the small local businesses they support in their rural communities. Agriculture is a source of pride in our heritage, a source of jobs, and a source of support that helps keep our rural areas thriving.
Wisconsin is a proud, diverse, and strong agricultural state, from our productive farms to our rural manufacturing to our urban food processing. No state raises more cranberries than Wisconsin. We rank among the nation’s top producers of processing vegetables, and are second only to California is fresh organic vegetables. When you squeeze toothpaste onto your brush, the mint flavoring probably came from our top-ranking mint farms. Our wine grape growers are coming into their own, along with our hops growers. With about 72,000 milk goats, our state also leads the nation in the dairy goat industry.
Our state is and will continue to be known as America’s Dairyland with thousands of dairy farms across Wisconsin. I grew up on my own family’s dairy farm in northern La Crosse County. It is there that my admiration and deep respect for farmers began. As we always say, we need farms of all types and sizes, and we have room for them all. We all know that farmers are facing challenging times with high production, low prices in the marketplace, and trade uncertainty.
What makes me most proud to be part of our state’s agriculture industry is that when a challenge presents itself, farmers come together to address it. Some farmers are incorporating technology into their barns and farm machinery to gain efficiencies. More and more dairy farmers are turning to grazing as a system that cuts down on feeding costs and managing manure. Our Dairy Task Force 2.0 is working to develop recommendations to support the industry, find new ways to improve profitability, and to carry our dairy heritage into the next generation.
Governor Evers has made water quality one of his top priorities. Whether we are talking about groundwater or surface water, we all share an interest in keeping it clean. Farmers and their families drink the same water as their neighbors. Streams and aquifers don’t follow town lines or county borders or city limits. It’s an issue that connects us all, and we all share in the solution. The Governor has proposed new resources in his budget to focus on water quality, including additional funding for DATCP to help counties work directly with farmers to further their conservation goals.
Wisconsin agriculture has many growth opportunities, from local markets where farmers are adding value and selling straight to consumers, to international markets. Wisconsin ag products are enjoyed by consumers in all corners of the world. Wisconsin also leads the way in new, cutting-edge ag production and processing. Hemp is an example of a product with countless new opportunities. In our second growing season, applications to grow hemp have grown from under 250 last year to more than 1,400 this year. Industrial hemp also creates numerous opportunities off the farm, including agronomics, processing, and marketing.
National Ag Day is a good time to remember that agriculture connects us to one another, to our past, and to our future. It’s a day for farmers to connect with their non-farm neighbors and share our story – a story that is so important to everyone’s daily life, and to our economy in Wisconsin and the nation. We all share in the strong, diverse economy that agriculture helps support. Let’s celebrate that. Happy National Ag Day!
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March 1, 2019: Welcome!
By: DATCP Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff
Welcome to the DATCP blog! In the coming months, this page will feature Wisconsin’s rural communities, agricultural businesses, and some of the great work being done in our agency. Our state has so much to offer, and I’m excited to tell the story of rural Wisconsin.
Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Brad Pfaff, and I serve as the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP). I grew up on a dairy farm in La Crosse County that has been in my family since they arrived to this country in the 1800s. Farmers have always been my mentors and my role models. From my time with Senator Herb Kohl to the USDA Farm Service Agency to Congressman Ron Kind, I’ve devoted my career to serving Wisconsin’s rural communities and agriculture industry.
I believe agriculture is a crucial part of who we are in Wisconsin. As Governor Evers outlined in his first budget address yesterday, it’s also important to remember how closely connected we all are. Our agricultural community relies on a strong rural transportation network, from the first mile to the last mile, to get our world-class products to consumers. Rural communities need better access to child care, training, and health care so people can get to work and participate in their local economy. I want to help connect these dots, and I am excited to work with Governor Evers to do so.
We also have many opportunities to develop new and existing markets. Through programs like Farm to School, Something Special from Wisconsin™, Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin, and our international promotion efforts, DATCP is working to connect farmers and consumers. As we approach new frontiers in resource management, agriculture, and consumer protection, it is critical that we have the resources to take full advantage of these opportunities. As we saw from Governor Evers’ proposed budget, he understands that need.
In the coming weeks, I plan to travel all around Wisconsin. I want to hear your thoughts and ideas about how DATCP can better serve our local communities and support the agricultural businesses that form such a large part of our state’s economy. Connecting the dots across our wonderful state is no small task. Agriculture is an $88 billion industry in Wisconsin - and that’s only one part of DATCP’s mission. Governor Evers and I need your input as we build those connections.
I believe we have a great story to tell, and I am excited to share it. By working together, I know we can ensure a brighter future for Wisconsin farm families, rural communities, and all citizens.
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