Since the state budget passed earlier this month, agriculture groups have been marking it as a good budget for farmers. Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Randy Romanski echoes that sentiment.
He says the big wins were investments in farmer mental health, meat and dairy processing, conservation, and international exports. But Romanski says there’s opportunities for the state Legislature to do more for the farm community.
He says he looks forward to discussions regarding permanent funding for farmer mental health and conservation, versus one-time funds.
“The thought is: agriculture is a part of our past, present and future, let’s make the investment and make it permanent,” he says.
In the recently passed state budget, the investment in agriculture exports continued. Part of the effort to boost exports is through trade missions. A few weeks ago, Wisconsin led a trade mission to the United Kingdom, and Romanski went along. He says it was a successful trip for the participating companies.
He says the products that the UK was interested in were artisan cheese, timber, processed vegetables, genetics, ginseng and distilled spirits.
DATCP also recognizes education as the foundation for the ag workforce. Agribusinesses continue to list labor as a No. 1 issue and point to ag education as the beginning of the pipeline for a strong workforce.
“The key to that is making sure that there’s a strong K-12 system, the technical college system is strong and properly funded, the UW System has programs and funding available to it to not only train the next generation but also look down the line to where we’re going to be 10 years, 20 years from now,” Romanski says.