Agriculture is big business in the Badger State. From dairy to agricultural research and everything in between, Wisconsin’s industry is significantly supporting the state’s economy.
Wisconsin’s balanced climate is ideal for growing a variety of crops. The cooler temperatures of the fall and winter give the state’s soil the opportunity to revitalize itself, while the summer’s warm temperatures are adequate for growing crops. Wisconsin receives an average annual rainfall of 32.63 inches, keeping crops hydrated and healthy.
Amajor contributor for the state, agriculture contributes a whopping $59.16 billion annually to the state’s economy. More than 353,990 Wisconsin citizens depend on agriculture for employment, from production to processing. In fact, 10 percent of Wisconsin’s workforce is employed by agriculture.
Wisconsin produces many agricultural commodities, but its top and most well-known commodity is dairy. The dairy industry accounts for nearly 40 percent of all Wisconsin agriculture jobs and employs 146,200 people in the state. Cheesemakers in Wisconsin produce more than 600 different varieties, including Italian, Mozzarella and other specialty cheeses.
Dairy products may be Wisconsin’s claim to fame, but the state also produces many unique specialty crops. Wisconsin leads the nation in production of snap beans, cranberries and ginseng.
For the past 18 consecutive years, Wisconsin has taken the top spot in cranberry production in the United States. In 2012, the state was responsible for 60 percent of the nation’s cranberry crop and, and cranberries accounted for 85 percent of total fruit production in the state, making it the largest fruit crop for Wisconsin. The small red fruit generates $300 million annually and provides 3,400 jobs.
Lesser-known products such as minks and horseradish are also widely produced in Wisconsin. Mink is often sought for its pelt to be used in clothing and other products. The Badger State produces close to a million mink pelts a year and is the No. 1 producer in the nation.
But more than just agricultural commodities, Wisconsin’s industry encompasses agricultural education, research, agritourism, agribusinesses and more. The state’s exports are growing, with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection playing an important role in helping to facilitate international business and continuing to investigate new opportunities for the industry.