Series: Wisconsin Ag And Global Trade

Agriculture is a cornerstone of the Wisconsin economy, and farmers across the state rely on international markets for customers. The commodities exported around the world include some of Wisconsin's most common agricultural products, including cheese and soybeans, as well as a host of specialized products that have come to symbolize the state's bounty, such as ginseng and cranberries. In the early 21st century, Wisconsin's largest agricultural export destination by far has been Canada, followed by Mexico, China and other nations. Farmers who rely on exports face uncertainties driven by fluctuating international demand, variable commodities markets and shifts in global politics, including an escalating series of tariffs levied between the United States and some of its closest trading partners. These changing conditions have impacts that ripple across the state’s broader agricultural economy.
 
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A new import policy in Canada has led a Wisconsin dairy processor to drop dozens of farmers in the state. As a result, these farmers are scrambling to find a new customer for their milk.
A glut of milk and cheese has had the dairy industry struggling with lower and more volatile prices for a several years. Now there's growing price uncertainty on the horizon for soybean growers.
At least one Wisconsinite drives to Nebraska and back to buy Ireland's most famous non-alcoholic export: grass-fed Kerrygold butter. Fans can't buy this product in Wisconsin because a state law enacted in the 1970s.
Wisconsin growers produced between 5.85 and 5.9 million barrels of cranberries in 2016, according the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association. That harvest would come close to a record they set in 2013.
Wisconsin dairy producers saw an increase in milk prices in December, reaching the highest price in the last two years.
There are likely to be very few long-term direct impacts to U.S. agriculture on account of the Brexit vote because very little of the nation's agricultural trade goes to the U.K. But there may be greater indirect effects.
Wisconsin is home to about 15,000 beef producers, according to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, and the state is a leading exporter of bovine genetics.
Brian Gould discusses milk prices
Recently some of Wisconsin's biggest export customers have been purchasing fewer dairy products, and there is more competition on the international market.