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Informational Meet Scheduled for Ag Enterprise Area Program
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 08/12/2011

Farm and agricultural business owners in Wisconsin who are looking for more information on the state's Agricultural Enterprise Areas are being encouraged to attend a meeting next month in Wisconsin Dells. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture is hosting the forum, titled 'Preparing for Wisconsin's Agricultural and Economic Future,' on September 27 at the Kalahari Resort.

"Agriculture and farming always face some uncertainty. If a farm expands, is there a business or processor to take the product? If a business expands, will there be farms to support the business?" says State Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel. "An AEA provides some certainty to farms and businesses alike as farmers voluntarily commit to remaining in agriculture for at least 15 years."

Keynote presentations by Steven Deller, PhD and Bruce Jones, PhD, faculty of University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics will address the economics of agriculture and the industry's future in Wisconsin.

In the afternoon, communities interested in pursuing AEA designation can receive training on developing an application and the selection process in one breakout session. The other breakout session is for those within designated AEAs to meet and share their experiences and what is working well within their area. Specialists from DATCP's Agricultural Development Division will also present, as will representatives from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

The intended audience of the forum is landowners, local officials, and county staff within designated AEAs, community leaders interested in forming AEAs, and agribusinesses and economic development organizations. Any interested individual is also invited to attend, regardless if they are a part of a designated AEA.

Brancel says officials are anxious to have those living in current designated AEAs attend to share their own experiences and perspectives. He says the next round of AEA petitions are due this fall, so the forum is a chance to have questions answered before the next deadline.

The AEA program gives statewide designation to areas identified by the local community as critical for farmland preservation and important for future agricultural investment. Currently, there are 17 areas designated or recommended for designation.

For more information or to sign-up for the conference, call 608-224-4625.

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