Thursday, March 18, 2010

Governor Doyle Awards $3.5 Million in Agriculture Development Grants

APPLETON – Governor Jim Doyle today awarded $3.5 million in agricultural development grants to expand and diversify cheese making and to develop farm-based clean energy technology. Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen announced the grants during a visit to Foremost Farms USA in Appleton today.

“Agriculture is central to our economy and our way of life, generating more than $59 billion for the state annually and representing one out of 10 jobs in Wisconsin,” Governor Doyle said. “These investments will create jobs by strengthening and diversifying our cheese making industry and moving forward with homegrown, renewable energy.”

The competitive Special Agricultural Facility Grant funding, allocated in the 2009-2011 budget, will support:

· $3.1 million in support for a $47.2 million expansion in Appleton that would increase milk processing capacity by 1.5 million pounds per day at Foremost Farms USA – a dairy cooperative headquartered in Wisconsin . Construction is expected to employ 60 to 70 workers for over a year, and the expanded capacity is expected to create 35 additional full-time jobs at the plant, which currently employs 91.

· A $200,000 project conducted by USEMCO in Sparta to develop and demonstrate an anaerobic digester that is cost effective for small farms. Wisconsin has nearly 13,000 dairy farms, with an average herd size of fewer than 100 cows. By bringing the economy of scale down for manure digesters, many more farms will have the ability to take a potential disposal cost and turn it into a source of homegrown, renewable energy.

· A $163,000 energy efficient upgrade at Maple Leaf Cheese Co-op in Monroe to diversify operations and make more lines of specialty cheeses. Wisconsin has been a leader in expanding its specialty cheeses and now accounts for 46 percent of the U.S. market. This project would increase energy efficiency at the plant and create 11 additional employees.

"Foremost Farms is strategically located in the middle of the best place to dairy; we're fortunate that Governor Doyle and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection support cheese processors through infrastructure reinvestment,” said Dave Fuhrmann, president of Foremost Farms USA. "This grant helps position our farmer-owners for long-term market access and provides value to customers who need a consistent source of quality Wisconsin cheese. These grants help our industry stay on course so we can seize new economic opportunities in an international marketplace."

Under Governor Doyle’s leadership, Wisconsin has invested and promoted its diverse farm economy. Incentives to help modernize the dairy industry have helped increase milk production to record levels and have strengthened the state's status as the number one producer of cheese in the country.

At the same time, efforts to strengthen diversity in agriculture have made Wisconsin a leading producer of cranberries, specialty cheeses, organic vegetables and many other products. To enable successful farming for future generations, the state's best farmland is protected under the Working Lands Initiative that Governor Doyle signed into law in 2009.

Governor Doyle has called on the Legislature to extend the Dairy Modernization Tax Credit to help hard-pressed dairy farmers invest in their operations. The Governor has also called for the development of a Food Processing Modernization Tax Credit to help companies invest in modern agriculture, expand operations, and create jobs.

Since taking office, Governor Doyle has advanced an aggressive agenda to position Wisconsin as a leader in a growing clean energy economy. Wisconsin has adopted renewable portfolio standards, invested in green job creation, led the advancement of research in cellulosic ethanol and biomass, and made great strides to increase energy efficiency in homes, businesses and government buildings. To build on these efforts, the Governor has called on the Legislature to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act, a landmark legislative package to accelerate the state’s green economy, create more than 16,000 jobs in Wisconsin , and boost gross state product by nearly $5 billion over the next 15 years.


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