Tuesday – January 28, 2020

WTCS event highlights economic impact of state’s agriculture sector

FENNIMORE – March 25 was “National Ag Day,” and the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) took advantage of the occasion to highlight agriculture’s $59 billion annual impact on the state’s economy.

Tuesday’s event at Southwest Tech in Fennimore included remarks from Governor Scott Walker, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Wisconsin Ag Secretary Ben Brancel and Alice in Dairyland, among others. Governor Walker has made agriculture a focus of his economic and workforce training initiatives.

Wisconsin is one of the most agriculturally diverse states in the country and exported $3.2 billion worth of agricultural products last year. Because ag-related employment makes up about 10 percent of Wisconsin’s labor market, the technical colleges are a frequent partner with those in the sector, including farmers and producers, agriculture service organizations, food and fiber processors and many others.

“This was a great opportunity to shine the light on the ag sector,” said Becky Levzow, a WTCS Board member and dairy farmer from Rio. Levzow served as emcee for the program. “Like other sectors, rapid changes in the industry mean we need an educated, highly-skilled workforce,” she added.

In addition to hearing from state and local leaders, attendees had an opportunity to see a number of skill and technology demonstrations, and learn about program offerings from tech college experts from across the state in fields like Agri-Business, Ag Power Equipment, Dairy Herd Management, Farm Business & Production Management, Farm Operations, Food Manufacturing and Processing, and Sustainable Food & Agriculture.

MATC food science technology instructor Marie Colmerauer attended the event. Information about the food science technology associate degree program is available at this link.

“Today, we had a chance to remind our communities that Southwest Wisconsin Technical College – and all of our 16 colleges – are ready and willing partners in developing the skills that will help producers and others in the industry compete and expand,” said Duane Ford, Southwest Tech President.

The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) offers more than 300 programs awarding two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas and short-term technical diplomas and certificates. In addition, the System is the major provider of customized business solutions and technical assistance to Wisconsin employers. More than 340,000 individuals access the technical colleges for education and training each year.