MADISON, Wis. -- On Tuesday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker unveiled an ambitious plan to grow the state's dairy industry.
The goal: 30 billion pounds of annual milk production by the year 2020. That is a 15 percent increase from last year’s 26.1 billion pounds.
Although last year’s production was a record, the growth from 2010 to 2011 was less than 1 percent, which is not fast enough, Walker pointed out.
“The reality is the growth is not fast enough for the opportunities that are here before us,” he told a press briefing held in conjunction with the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin business conference.
Wisconsin is already the No. 1 state in the nation when it comes to cheese production. But if the state’s cheese-makers are to continue their preeminent position and grow — not only in the state, but nationally and even internationally — “we have to make sure now and in the future they have the milk that ultimately will allow” them to lead the way, Walker said.
At the announcement, the Governor outlined new resources to help existing and prospective dairy farmers. Dairy farmers will have access to a toll-free phone number (855-WIDAIRY or 855-943-2479) to connect with resources and services, as well as Grow Wisconsin Dairy Grants to assist in planning, preparation and improving dairy profit.
Walker said the program also will be used to recruit dairies from other states.
Even if Wisconsin hits the 30-billion-pound mark by 2020, it will probably remain behind California in total milk production. In 2011, California dairy farmers produced 41.5 billion pounds of milk.