The Wisconsin dairy community remains a massive economic driver for the state and there is potential for even greater growth, Gov. Scott Walker told hundreds of farmers and dairy business professionals attending Dairy Strong 2016: Partners in Progress at Monona Terrace Convention Center.
“There’s tremendous growth opportunity in agriculture, and Wisconsin is now among the top 10 ag exporting states,” Walker said. “We hope to continue to grow that more, but to do it we need to get more people involved in and working in agriculture.”
Walker noted that state unemployment levels are at the lowest level since 2001 and more people are working now in Wisconsin than during the past 20 years.
The rising average age of workers is a concern and it’s vital to get younger people interested in agriculture careers, Walker said. He said the state needs to continue working to find ways to take down barriers, such as helping farmers with disabilities get modifications to their operations so they can continue to work.
“We can’t afford to have anyone on the sidelines when it comes to working. We need their help to grow the economy,” Walker said.
Walker said he will continue to do his part to help Wisconsin agriculture. He said water issues continue to be a priority.
“We need to make sure there’s enough water for farmers to do what they need to while also making sure we have enough for all of us to continue to enjoy such a valuable natural resource,” Walker said.
LEGISLATIVE ADVOCATE AWARD: After Walker’s address, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos received the Dairy Business Association Legislative Advocate Award for his efforts to keep agriculture issues front and center. Vos said a top goal this coming year is to gain passage of a high-capacity well bill.
He encouraged farmers to get their local legislators out to their farms to learn more about their businesses firsthand.
“It’s important they can come out and see what you’re doing. Don’t go to their office, get them to come out and see your farm,” Vos said. “They can learn more and understand better what’s all involved. It can make a big difference.”