Wisconsin cheesemakers produce 6.5% more cheese in April

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 7:13 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Earlier Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the Biden Administration would end the farmers to Families food Box Program which was designed to feed the hungry during the Coronavirus pandemic. This week Vilsack said the replacement program is ready to go. The new program, which will still use some of the best provisions of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, will take up to $1 billion from recent Congressional spending bills. About $500 million will go to the Emergency Food Box program to help local food banks meet the demand of the hungry with another $400 million going to the Agricultural Marketing Service to expand the pool of local farmers and ranchers who provide product to local food banks. Another $100 million will be used for storage and refrigeration of food.

Cheese makers around the state and across the country were busy in April. In Wisconsin, they made almost 6 and a half percent more cheese than they did last year—282 and a half million pounds. Production of Italian varieties increased the most with Mozzarella output up over 6% from last April. Nationally cheese production hit 1.14 billion pounds—up 8% from a year ago but slightly less March. California continues to rank second in cheese production—about 75 million pounds behind Wisconsin, with Idaho number 3 and New Mexico ranked 4th.

The state legislature and the governor are trying to get a new state budget done, but they’re still a ways apart. Last week, the Joint Finance Committee voted to provide $30 million less for the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection than Governor Evers is calling for. Their biggest difference is in the amount of money the governor wants to buy food from Wisconsin farmers to supply food banks across the state. The Legislature is proposing $20 million less than the governor wants. The Committee is also proposing less funding for the DATCP lab, meat processor grants and for promoting agriculture to consumers.

Another one of the big Ag shows that had to be cancelled the last 2 years is up and running as of today. World Pork Expo will begin its 3 day run this morning at the Iowa State fairgrounds in Des Moines. Organizers are hoping attendance will approach the 20,000 who attended the show before the Coronavirus pandemic forced them to call off last year’s show. It was also cancelled in 2019 over fears of African Swine Fever.

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