Agricultural Development Educator, Lincoln and Marathon Counties
June… the beginning of summer with baseball games, camping trips, and attending the several June Dairy Breakfasts throughout the state.
As most of us know, Wisconsin is known for its dairy industry. We even show it proudly on our license plates with the lettering “America’s Dairyland.”
As Wisconsin’s number one commodity export, dairy contributes over $43 billion to the state’s economy – 1.3 million cows on the 9,900 farms produce over 29 billion pounds or about 3.4 billion gallons of milk. That is over 27 billion eight-ounce glasses of milk. Much of this milk goes to the 138 cheese plants across the state to make the 2.8 billion pounds of cheese we enjoy. In fact, if Wisconsin was its own country, it would be the number four producer of cheese in the world!
In Lincoln County, 4,100 cows on 55 farms produces over $14 million worth of milk to local processing plants. Lincoln County dairy farms also provide 280 jobs while supporting another 117 jobs at the milk processing plants.
Dairy is not the only agricultural commodity that Wisconsin is known for producing. Wisconsin produces over half of the world’s supply of this fruit we commonly have during our Thanksgiving dinner and makes a great snack when dried. Most of these are grown around Wood County, but Lincoln County does grow these and several counties to the north also grow this fruit. If you said cranberries, then you are correct. Wisconsin produces around 6 million barrels or 600 million pounds of cranberries on about 20,000 acres. The cranberry industry supports over 3,400 jobs in the state and brings in about $300 million to the state’s economy.
For those with a sweet tooth, Wisconsin is the number four producer of maple syrup. Last year, Wisconsin produced 215,000 gallons of maple syrup valued at almost $7 million. Lincoln County is ranked number nine in the state and in 2012 had just over 2,400 gallons produced out of almost 27,000 on 29 farms.
Lincoln County’s agricultural economy is very diverse, including a large Christmas tree industry, several horticultural businesses, and the many vegetable and fruit farms that provide fresh produce to the area. Lincoln County livestock farms consist of the traditional beef, swine, and sheep and also have diversified to include elk, deer, rabbits, poultry, horses and llamas. All of these businesses generate $132 million to the local economy. In fact, for every dollar in sales a Lincoln County farmer makes it generates an additional 25 cents of economic activity within the county.
So as you visit your favorite roadside stand, u-pick, and farmers’ market or meet a farmer on the road give a wave of appreciation or better yet say thank you to him or her for helping make our Wisconsin summers so enjoyable.
Hope to see all of you at the Lincoln County June Dairy Month Breakfast held at the Smith Center at the MARC on June 12. Breakfast begins at 8 a.m. and ends at noon.