What was once an idle feed mill and a small-town grain business is now an international success that brings in nearly $1 billion a year. An operation that started as a small cooperative created to manufacture and sell butter is now a network composed of nearly 500 dairy farm family owners who produce more than 160,000 pounds of cheese in a single day. What is the secret to their continued success after more than a century of business? Going global.
International trade can seem like risky business, but the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) works to facilitate a business’ transition into international trade.
In 2012, Wisconsin agricultural exports had a record-setting year. The state exported $2.9 billion worth of agricultural products to 149 countries.
The Economic Research Service – 2009 Data Model reports that international trade has a significantly positive effect on the state’s agricultural economy. Consider this:
Every $1 billion worth of exported products supports 8,400 jobs. Every $1 in U.S. farm exports stimulates another $1.31 in U.S. business activity. In addition, nearly 96 percent of all consumers live outside of the United States. Two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries. And other studies show that the world’s population is growing, but arable land is diminishing.
There is a significant opportunity for small businesses to profit through exporting. For markets with limited land but growing populations, one option many countries are choosing to feed their citizens is to import food and other agricultural products.
For farms and businesses interested in pursuing a global market, DATCP provides advice and assistance to medium and smaller sized operations.
“We work with producers to help them achieve an understanding of market opportunities and cultures, and introduce them to financial resources, legal resources and other logistics providers,” says Jen Pino- Gallagher, the Agricultural Market Development Bureau director for DATCP. “We provide numerous opportunities for producers to learn about the basics of exporting – documentation, regulations, free trade agreements, international growth – that are the building blocks to a successful export plan.”
Beyond the resources and programs offered, DATCP partners with trade associations, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS), the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the U.S. Commercial Services to connect producers with professionals.