ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Governor Scott Walker is hoping help is on the way for Wisconsin's dairy industry. Yesterday he said he is creating a task force that he wants to come up with ideas to save our dairy industry. The state lost 500 dairy farms last year as the total number of dairy farms is down 20% from 5 years ago. His plan is to have the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection join with the University of Wisconsin System to create the Dairy Industry Task Force. Their charge is to bring industry experts together to create solutions for dairy farmers, processors and related industries. State Agriculture Secretary Sheila Harsdorf and UW System President Ray Cross will appoint members to the task force. Already named to chair the group is Mark Stephenson, director of Dairy Policy Analysis at the UW's Center for Dairy Profitability.
It's been about 3 and a half years since cheese production in Wisconsin fell below the same month from the previous year. But it happened this past April. Cheese production in April was just under 278 million pounds-about 2 million pounds less than April of last year. The reason for the drop was about a 2% drop in American type cheese production. Output of Cheddar, Italian and Mozzarella varieties all went up slightly in April. Nationally cheese production went up in April-about 1% from a year ago.
It doesn't look like we will have an updated North American Free Trade Agreement this year. Senate Majority Whip, Senator John Cornyn of Texas said yesterday he doesn't see it getting done in the current Congress and it'll have to come up for a vote in 2019 if negotiators can come to an agreement on a revised deal. And a finished deal may not happen at all. President Trump is now saying he wouldn't mind seeing separate trade deals with Canada and Mexico. He said right now "we are losing a lot of money with Canada and we're losing a fortune with Mexico."
The battle over fake meat continues across the country. Earlier this year, U.S. Cattlemen filed a petition with the USDA to stop makers of lab grown and plant based proteins from calling their products beef or meat. And they're urging cattle producers and others to tell the USDA to stop the practice by making comments to the Agriculture Department by tomorrow. Meanwhile in Missouri, the state legislature has made Missouri the first state not to allow companies to sell those products in their state. That new law, passed about a week ago, says a product cannot be marketed in the state as meat if it doesn't come from an animal with 2 or 4 feet.
The world's largest hog show starts today. IT's World Pork Expo at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. The show runs today through Friday and besides Attracting hog producers from all over the United States, about a thousand international guests are expected from about 40 different countries. This will be the 30th year for the show which features a trade show, educational seminars and industry updates. This year those industry updates will include the latest on international trade negotiations as Greg Doud, the chief negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Greg Ibach, USDA Under Secretary fro marketing and Regulatory programs will both be in Des Moines to give hog producers the latest news on our ongoing trade talks.