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UW Extension report says farming generates $59 billion in state

Farming in Wisconsin generates more than $59 billion in economic activity.

That's according to a new University of Wisconsin Extension report.

Madison professor Steve Deller says America's Dairyland has helped itself by taking on niche markets, and expanding beyond its traditional dairy roots.

But he's not happy that agriculture is supporting fewer jobs these days - about 350,000 statewide, compared to 420,000 nine years ago.

He said the drop came despite growth in some sectors of the industry. He says fears over labor shortages may be a factor - along with a trend toward more automated operations.

Also, Deller is concerned about a lack of young people getting into agriculture.

He says it's getting too expensive for young farmers to raise the capital needed to start an operation and the tight credit markets don't help.

He said the UW System is trying to help young farmers get into the business.

Also, Deller says foreign markets for exports have mostly dried up, but he expects that to turn around once the economy does.