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Report: Dairy Sector Contributes $45 Billion to State's Economy
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 08/14/2019

Agriculture has always been Wisconsin's number-one industry, and dairy is at the center of it all. According to new data released this week by the University of Wisconsin-Extension, the dairy sector--which includes production along with other supporting channels like processing and sales--generates nearly half of the state's annual industrial agricultural revenue; and represents 16.4 percent of the Wisconsin's overall economy.

A report titled 'The Contribution of Agriculture to the Wisconsin Economy' showed that in 2017, Wisconsin's agricultural economic impact grew from $88.3 billion five years earlier to $104.8 billion. The dairy industry's portion also rose to $45.6 billion.

"It is clear that agriculture, and particularly dairy, plays a critical role in Wisconsin's economy," said UW-Madison Professor Steven Deller, who oversaw the study. "To put this in perspective, dairy's economic impact is twice that of another key growing industry, Wisconsin tourism. It also shows dairy is Wisconsin's signature industry and is central to our state's identity."

His research also indicated that farmers' milk resulted in 154,000 Wisconsin jobs and $1.26 billion in state and local taxes. Every dollar generated by Wisconsin's dairy industry generates another $1.73 in additional revenue for the state, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin exported over $2.5 billion in agriculture products to other countries last year--with dairy goods being the second-largest contributor at $451 million.

Deller's findings show that 90 percent of Wisconsin's milk was devoted to cheesemaking, while the rest went into butter, ice cream and cultured products like yogurt and cottage cheese.

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