target marketing for specialty Wisconsin products to distributors with national and global reach, such as providing complimentary product samples for participating suppliers, airlines, hotels, and guest services contractors, which are uniquely positioned to promote brand recognition and spur demand for the Wisconsin brand far beyond our state.
• Diversification. While last year brought daunting challenges to Wisconsin farmers, our corn harvest, while late, produced a record yield, and should be a source of optimism.41 Wisconsin is one of the top producing states in the nation in corn, soy and dairy – Tom wants it to be tops in these areas too.
• Family farming through modernization, expansion of markets, transition into organic farming, farming education programs for small farmers, and other extension efforts.
• Incentives for farming cooperatives. As the cost of agricultural inputs continues to rise and prices of commodities fall, farmers need ways generate more revenue. Instead of only growing and selling commodities, many farmers have formed agricultural cooperatives to process crops and return added value to producers, rather than leaving these profits to middlemen. These new agricultural cooperatives are commonly referred to as “value-added co-ops” or “new generation co-ops.” Tom will push for tax credits, purchasing incentives, and grants or loans to encourage the formation of these co-ops. Done in conjunction with a green energy agenda, the incentives can be targeted to farmers in biodiesel production. Missouri has a program like this. The credit is allocated specifically for incorporated cooperative facilities producing products (including energy and fuel) derived from agricultural commodities. The tax credits are only available to members of the co-ops, not to outside investors.42
• Local food production. Local food production has the potential to be a major economic engine. Local food activists are working to boost that percentage dramatically and are developing public policy recommendations to advance the growing, selling, safety, marketing, access, distribution, preparation and serving of locally produced foods. Examples of policies they are investigating include:
o Farm-to-school programs: These can include everything from gardening on school property and teaching farm curriculum to helping kids cook and serving local foods in school lunchrooms.
o Local food procurement for schools, hospitals, jails, and other institutions – Is it possible for the food-service operations of schools, hospitals, jails and other institutions to serve more local foods?
o Urban agriculture: Can zoning and other barriers be erased to benefit farmers within city limits?43
• Aquaculture. Aquaculture is the fastest-growing agricultural sector in the world. The transition from natural fisheries to aquaculture is occurring in part because there is more demand for fish than product. Although U.S. consumer demand is increasing for locally-grown products, the U.S. has a $9 billion seafood import deficit, with foreign