Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced today a new "Dairy 30x20 Initiative" that hopes to double the rate of growth in Wisconsin milk production through 2020.
He made the announcement at the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s (PDPW) 2012 Business Conference here in Madison, Wis. Walker noted that state cheese makers produce more than 25% of all cheese produced in the country, and more than 50% of all specialty cheeses.
The state’s 11,000 dairy farmers and 2.7 million dairy cows collectively produced 26.1 billion lb. of milk in 2011. But the rate of growth was just 1% last year, insufficient to keep the state’s cheese makers growing. "To grow [the state’s cheese-production capacity and export capability], we need one key ingredient. We need more milk," Walker said.
The "30x20" efforts hopes to grow the state’s milk production to 30 billion pounds by 2020, a 15% increase over the next eight years and a doubling of the annual rate of growth. The objective is to assist state farmers, regardless of size or type, to focus on long-term, sustained operations to increase profitability and production.
A one-stop resource center is being developed at www.GrowWisconsinDairy.wi.gov
. Two types of grants will be available to retain farms and facilitate operational change. The first will be "planning and preparation teams" to meet business development and expansion needs. The second will be for "dairy profit teams" to improve management of existing operations and identify profit opportunities. The program will be coordinated by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
"The 30x20 Initiative is not just about getting milk production up to 30 billion pounds by 2020, but getting government out of your way to improve the prosperity of small businesses across the state," Walker, a Republican, concluded.
It should be noted that Gov. Walker is currently in the middle of a voter recall after his efforts last year to strip teachers’ unions of some of their collective bargaining rights last year. More than a million signatures were collected on recall petitions, and it’s likely a recall election will be held in the coming months. At the PDPW meeting, however, he received standing ovations both before and after his presentation from dairy farmers and allied industry.