Sen. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, and Rep. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc, authored Assembly Bill 314, which was recently signed into law as 2021 Wisconsin Act 92 by Gov. Tony Evers. This bill creates a joint agricultural and agribusiness export initiative.
“Agriculture is a key driver of economic growth and contributes over $100 billion annually to our state’s economy,” says Ballweg. “Exports are essential in providing stability to this industry, increasing access to talent and allowing for elevated profit margins.”
She notes Wisconsin is in the top 10 states for agriculture production, yet ranks No. 13 for the export of food, forestry and ag products. Ballweg says there’s ample opportunity for Wisconsin to find new footholds in emerging markets.
In partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., DATCP is tasked with creating a plan to achieve certain export initiatives by June 30, 2026.
Objectives of this program include, spending $2.5 million on increasing the value of Wisconsin’s milk and other dairy products, $1.25 million to increase the value of Wisconsin’s meat exports and $1.25 million to increase the value of Wisconsin’s crop exports.
“Three of the past five years saw declines in agribusiness exports,” explains Ballweg. “From 2016 to 2020, Wisconsin saw an aggregate loss of over $64 million. Now more than ever, it is important we do everything we can to secure the vitality of our markets into the future.”
To ensure this program is creating real outcomes for Wisconsin’s agriculture economy, DATCP and WEDC are required to submit a report on the program’s progress. Additionally, the Legislative Audit Bureau is required to conduct an evaluation of the program’s effectiveness no later than Dec. 31, 2026.
“Wisconsin’s robust agricultural and agribusiness exports are not only a cornerstone of our state’s economy but our Wisconsin way of life,” says Evers. “We started this work to promote and increase Wisconsin’s product exports even before the pandemic to help support our farmers and our rural communities, and I’m proud this legislation has finally made it to my desk.”