Gov. James Doyle announced Thursday his "Next Generation Agriculture" plan to prepare Wisconsin dairy farms for the future.
These new initiatives totaling more than $33 million will move the dairy and agriculture industry forward by providing more resources to modernize and innovate, capture new markets, and seize new green opportunities.
"From our farms and factories, to our world-class universities and cutting-edge businesses, Wisconsin is well-positioned to seize opportunities to flourish in the new economy," Governor Doyle says. "The next generation of agriculture must match the needs of a competitive global market with efficiency, stewardship, and creativity. Today we will renew our commitment to give dairy and agricultural producers more tools to modernize plants, enter international markets, and grow the renewable technologies of the future."
Wisconsin's dairy and agriculture industries are experiencing tremendous growth. Since 2006, state dairy exports have increased by 89%, a rate that outpaces national growth. Wisconsin dairy businesses have also entered many specialty markets, and the state produces about 50% of the nation's specialty, organic, and value-added cheeses.
The Governor's "Next Generation Agriculture" plan will build on the state's success:
*Nutrient Management Program – To complement industry efforts, the state will provide farmers with $13 million in funding for the most comprehensive nutrient management system of its kind. The advisory system will help farmer reduce runoff pollution, explore new ways to manage wastewater, and make better and safer working conditions.
*Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative – This initiative will ensure Wisconsin farmers can grow while practicing stewardship and intelligent land management. The state will provide $800,000 to help Wisconsin farmers manage their resources, becoming more efficient producers and better stewards of the land.
*Dairy Plant Investment Tax Credits – Wisconsin will provide $1.3 million in new tax credits for dairy plants to buy much-needed equipment and implement new technologies to become more efficient and enhance quality. Credits are available for 10 percent of modernization or expansion costs, with up to $200,000 per facility.
*Meat Modernization Credits – This new initiative will provide up to $1 million in tax credits to modernize meat processing plants through new investment and technical assistance. The credits will help more plants become efficient and productive, strengthen partnerships between meat processors and technical colleges, and move plants toward leaner manufacturing processes.
*Cheese Cooperatives Credits – These new credits worth $1.3 million will allow cheese cooperatives to work together to invest in new cheese plants and streamline their businesses.
*Whey Initiative – Totaling up to $ 10 million in support, the whey initiative will help plants invest in the growing international market for whey to generate new revenues, helping plants across the state increase their whey capacity. Since 2006, whey exports have increased from $13 million to $37 million, an increase of 170 %.
Doyle also announced the signing of the Green Tier Charter agreement. Signed by the Dairy Business Association (DBA) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Green Tier Charter will promote green dairy processes and serve as a model for responsible management, collaboration, and development.
The governor applauded the leadership of DNR Secretary Matt Frank and the DBA for working together to streamline regulation, encouraging innovation and smart management practices.
The Green Tier Charter agreement is part of Doyle's broader efforts to make Wisconsin a leader in renewable energy. Over the next 10years, Wisconsin will invest $150 million to promote and produce renewable energy in Wisconsin. Dairy and agriculture producers will play a major role in this charge. Wisconsin has far more anaerobic digesters than any other state, with 22 anaerobic digesters capable of generating power for 7,500 homes.