The bill, authored by State Senator Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) and State Representative Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) provides funding for the new Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports (WIAE), a $5m, five-year program intended to boost the sale of Wisconsin dairy products, crops, and meat internationally. Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Randy Romanski, and Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) executive director, John Umhoefer, were also in attendance.
The signing took place in Sartori Cheese's East Main Caves in Plymouth. Sartori, a specialty cheese company based in Wisconsin, has steadily expanded its export business, and the company expects this new funding to help accelerate growth.
"We are thrilled by the bipartisan efforts of the Wisconsin government to promote Wisconsin cheese exports globally," said Sartori CEO, Jeff Schwager
"We thank Governor Evers and all who worked to bring this bill into fruition. This funding will help introduce consumers across the globe to the amazing specialty cheese products coming out of Wisconsin.
“With household incomes and demand rising in emerging international markets, now is an ideal time to make these smart, targeted investments. Evers’ action today will provide valuable assistance to help Wisconsin dairy processors navigate the complex logistics of exporting and build their businesses abroad for years to come.”
The WIAE aims to boost Wisconsin’s agricultural exports – including cheese, yogurt, butter, and other dairy products – by 25% over the next five years.
Evers first proposed the creation of a dairy exporting program in his 2020 State of the State address and included funding for an agricultural exports program in his 2021-2023 biennial budget proposal. Following Senator Ballweg and Representative Kurtz’s introduction of legislation to provide $5m to boost Wisconsin’s agricultural exports, including $2.5m for dairy products, the WIAE received bipartisan support in the Wisconsin Legislature.
Evers said, “Our dairy industry is not only core to our economy, but it’s core to who we are as a state. This bipartisan legislation builds on our work to expand and increase our dairy exports so folks around the globe can experience the high-quality dairy products we know and love produced right here in Wisconsin.”
Umhoefer added, “Our state’s dairy processors and farmers are excited to answer the global call for more of their high-quality, safe, and nutritious dairy products, and this program will offer the resources and support they need to reach consumers around the world.
“We’re deeply grateful to Governor Evers, Senator Ballweg, Representative Kurtz, and state leaders for their collaborative leadership in making these purposeful, worthwhile investments in Wisconsin’s agricultural industry.”
In a December 2021 report to lawmakers, state agency officials detailed their plans for administering the WIAE, which include participation in key international trade shows, reverse buyers’ missions, consultative and educational resources for new exporters, marketing campaigns, and direct-to-industry grants.