Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff is calling on Wisconsin farmers and non-farmers to celebrate their connections on National Ag Day March 14.“We all share in the strong, diverse economy that agriculture helps support. National Ag Day is a good time to remember that agriculture connects us to one another, to our past, and to our future,” says Pfaff, who leads the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).Pfaff, appointed by Gov. Tony Evers, notes that he took the job understanding that three of the many major issues facing the department and the state: water quality, dairy industry struggles, and the developing hemp industry.“Streams and aquifers don’t follow town lines or county borders or city limits. Water quality affects us all, and we all share in the solution,” Pfaff says. Gov. Evers’ proposed budget includes new resources to address concerns about water quality impacts, including additional funding for DATCP to help counties work directly with farmers to meet conservation goals.Pfaff points out that the proposed budget also includes new resources for DATCP to help farmers cope with stress and depression, as well as financial woes, brought about by market conditions. But the longer term solution to that problem lies with the Dairy Task Force 2.0, he says. On March 15, the group of farmers and industry representatives will recommend ways to revitalize the industry into the next generation.That’s just one bright spot, the Secretary says. Industrial hemp has great potential to be another bright spot, creating a new income stream for established farmers and bringing a whole new group of farmers onto the scene.Other bright spots include Wisconsin’s leadership in cranberries, processing vegetables, ginseng, and in the newer fields of wine grapes and hops. Farmers’ markets are booming all over the state.All depend on the relationship between farmers and consumers, he says. “Can any of us imagine Wisconsin without agriculture? I can’t, and I expect most of our citizens can’t. Agriculture binds us together. Let’s celebrate that.”
Getting up at 2 in the morning might shock some of her listeners, but for Pam Jahnke, it’s part of the business. Born in Northeastern Wisconsin, Pam Jahnke grew up in agriculture. Raised on her family’s 200-acre dairy farm, she learned the “farm work ethic” first hand.