DATCP: Enjoy a meal, thank a farmer — Nov. 20 is ‘Thank You Farmers and Ranchers Day’

Contact: Donna Gilson 608-224-5130 (office) 608-333-5624 (cell phone)

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle has proclaimed Friday, Nov. 20, to be “Thank You Farmers and Ranchers Day” in Wisconsin.

“The holiday season is a time to thank America’s farmers and ranchers, who produce the food that nourishes us and serves as the centerpiece for family gatherings and holiday celebrations,” said Rod Nilsestuen, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Governor Doyle’s proclamation lists the reasons that farmers deserve thanks:

* America has an abundant supply of safe, wholesome and affordable food.

* Wisconsin is the #1 cheese, #1 cranberry, and #3 potato state, producing more than 600 varieties of cheese, and 450 million pounds of cranberries to be shipped world-wide; without these farmers, this would not be possible.

* Less than 1 percent of the American population works in food production, yet the average American farmer now feeds 144 people. One out of every ten Wisconsinites is employed in agriculture, providing over 353,000 jobs to the state.

* Wisconsin’s 14,800 beef producers contribute to the $12.3 billion meat industry in the state.

* Agriculture in Wisconsin is a $59 billion industry, providing food for our tables, sustaining rural communities, preserving working farmland and habitat and protecting the environment.

Nilsestuen noted that The Beef Checkoff and the Wisconsin Beef Council are urging consumers during this holiday season to give thanks for the wholesome, affordable food supply raised in our country and the people who grow and raise it – America’s farmers and ranchers – and to call attention to the vital role they play in the nation and world.

“Whether you raise thousands of dairy cattle or graze 35 cows, whether you’re a cash cropper selling corn and soybeans on the international market or an organic vegetable farmer selling direct to consumers, you’re a vital link in the food chain, and we want and need you in Wisconsin,” Nilsestuen said. “Our farmers not only supply us with food. They indirectly provide thousands of jobs in food processing and distribution, and in farm equipment and supply manufacturing and sales. Their taxes support rural roads and schools, and they’re important customers who help keep small-town businesses alive. All are good reasons to say thank you to our farmers.”