You already know Wisconsin as the dairy capital of the world. America’s Dairyland is home to approximately 12,000 dairy farms with more than 1.26 million cows, many of them located right here in the Madison Region. But that’s just the beginning. The Madison Region boasts some of the richest agricultural soils in the world, and the largest agriculture employment bases in the state with nearly 60,000 jobs directly related to agriculture, comprising 20% of Wisconsin’s total agricultural employment.
Integral to the Regional Economy
The agricultural capacity of the Madison Region extends well beyond dairy. We are home to the largest producer-only farmers market in the country, as well as innovative businesses like New Glarus Brewing Company that have been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the nation’s fastest growing companies. Several food-related incubators throughout the eight-county region support a growing cadre of local food entrepreneurs - providing space, equipment, and technical assistance to get their businesses off the ground. Many facets of the regional economy connect to agriculture, with frequent collaboration across the life sciences and advanced manufacturing sectors, revealing the deep integration of agriculture with regional prosperity.
An Educated Workforce and Strong Infrastructure
Concerted efforts by numerous organizations make sure that the sector has a regionally trained and available talent pool. In 2010, Madison Region colleges and universities granted 2,260 certificates and degrees germane to agriculture and food systems. Sector support through higher education is coupled with strong institutional and programmatic collaboration of organizations and trade groups at the local, state, and national levels.
Convening Leaders in the Global Dairy Industry
For the past 45 years, Dane County has been host to the World Dairy Expo – the largest dairy focused trade show in the world. In 2012, nearly 72,000 people attended this five-day event, up from 68,000 in 2011. In 2010 alone, the expo generated a direct economic impact of nearly $16 million in the area. The presence of the World Dairy Expo in Dane County continues to hallmark the importance of agriculture in the region, making it the epicenter for the global dairy industry.
The Madison Region and Wisconsin are already nationally and internationally known for key food products like milk, cheese, and beer. The Madison Region’s agricultural sector will continue to build on existing strengths as well as its tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship to develop sustainable energy, create successful infrastructure for value-added products, and increase the market for local foods.
Sources: 2011 Advance Now Target Cluster Analysis; The Economic Impact of Agriculture in Wisconsin, County Impact Reports, UW-Extension; Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board; World Dairy Expo.