Did you know that the impact the dairy business in Wisconsin has on the state's economy is more than twice that of the citrus industry's impact on Florida's economy and nearly nine times the economic impact as Idaho's potato industry?
Dairying in Wisconsin is not just another industry among many, but the industry that's made Wisconsin famous. It is the one industry that defines us in the eyes of our fellow Americans and in the minds of people from around the world. Wisconsin has been an international leader in dairy and cheese technology for more than 150 years.
How long has dairy farming been important to Wisconsin?
Dairy farming and cheesemaking date back more than 160 years, before Wisconsin was even granted statehood in 1848. In fact, Wisconsin's first cheesemakers were farm wives who, in the 1830s, began making cheese in their kitchens as a way of storing excess milk. Wisconsin's first cheese "factory" was started by Anne Picket by gathering milk from her south-central Wisconsin neighbors and producing cheese for all to share. By 1900, Wisconsin had become a powerful player in cheese production nationally and, by 1920, was the nation's top producer. Today, about 90% of Wisconsin cheese is sold outside the state's borders.
Here are some of the reasons the state is poised to lead the world in dairying for decades to come:
Being "America's Dairyland" is more than mere numbers, however. The dairy business is central to our past, an important component in today's state economy and vital part of our future.
Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of dairy farms in Wisconsin are still family owned and operated. However the business structures that define the operation may look quite different than the single proprietor farm of two decades ago. It may mean that two or more families are combining resources under a new business structure to provide for a new generation of multi-family dairies. Or it may mean that parents and their children are establishing a working plan for an orderly succession that positions the business for long-term success. These are just two of the many examples of Wisconsin farmers applying solid business principles to their operations to preserve the viability and profitability of their farms for generations to come.
Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
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