Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection Sec. Ben Brancel sat down with WisconsinEye’s Steve Walters to discuss the Wisconsin’s Ag industry, and was happy to report 2013 was good year for the $59 billion industry.
With a drought in 2012, and above average rainfall in 2013, Wisconsin agriculture held its rankings: #1 in cranberry production, #1 in cheese production, and #2 in milk production.
In crop, fruit, and vegetable production, Sec. Brancel reported orchards did well with record high apple yields, the vegetable and potato industry is strong, and “corn is still king” in Wisconsin this year. Sec. Brancel predicted that 2014 would be another good year, but corn and soybean producers should expect a stutter and should start “tightening their financial belts” now.
In the beef market, meat prices are up due to diminished herds caused by multiple dramatic droughts in the West and the South. Historically these numbers would bounce back relatively quickly, however expensive grain prices have stalled livestock owners from building their herds back up. Brancel reported that total U.S. livestock numbers are the lowest they’ve been since 1940.
Although livestock numbers are down, dairy production is growing in Wisconsin, says Brancel. For the last 5 years, Wisconsin dairy processors have seen such high demand for their products, 10% of the 26 billion lbs. of milk needed for processing has been imported from other states. Milk production hasn’t fallen in Wisconsin; processors are just meeting high demand for Wisconsin cheese and dairy products, including internationally. While US exports were up .5% for the first nine months of 2013, Wisconsin dairy exports increased by 6%. Dairy is now the #1 agriculture export for Wisconsin.
2013 was a great year for Wisconsin agriculture, and the state can expect the same for 2014, says Secretary Brancel.
This post was authored by Rebecca Ballweg, an intern at the Hamilton Consulting Group.