Ag exports bright spot for state
Wisconsin's international exports of agricultural and farm-related products continue to be a bright spot in the state's economy.
Ben Brancel, secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, told members of his board of directors Nov. 14 that such sales from January through September are up four percent over last year, at the same time that overall U.S. exports are down one percent.
The export sales are doing so well, he said, that the state's ranking moved up from 14th place at mid-year to 12th place at this point in the year.
Wisconsin's ranking stood at 17th place when he came to the department, Brancel said.
Sales are up 42 percent over last year.
One of the areas where Wisconsin is doing well is in the export of ethanol co-products.
"Only Texas exports more of it," he said.
Another leader is the dairy, egg and honey category. It is up 22 percent and is being driven by whey exports.
Up 41 percent is the preserved foods category, led by cranberries and potatoes.
Wisconsin's top buyers of agricultural and food exports include Canada, Mexico, China, Korea and Japan.
For the first half of the year, Mexico's purchases were "way below last year," Brancel said. Now they are up four percent.
There continues to be strong interest from the Shanghai Dairy Group in China and representatives toured a number of Wisconsin businesses as a way to develop contacts and built relationships for international trade.
Brancel said his department facilitated an interactive session between seven or eight companies with representatives of the Shanghai Dairy Group recently in the governor's conference room in the state capitol.
"It's an issue of service and we continue to have follow-ups."