As the fall harvest begins, I always appreciate the diversity of economy here in Grant County. Corn silage is being harvested; a final cutting of hay is being planned; soybeans are turning; and our seed corn companies are hard at work. Our farmers are a resilient lot, with depressed prices being paid and the weather not being ideal, unless you like rain and mud. Our dairy farmers are seeing some improvements in milk pricing, but the stability of that improved pricing remains unknown. Several of our dairy farms are beginning to explore the idea of direct marketing their milk and dairy products to the public as a way to add value to their farm.
Egg production in the county and region continues to grow. With any growing industry, we see ancillary businesses showing up to support and benefit from that industry. There is now an “egg washing” business being constructed in Muscoda to benefit from the egg production. Hopefully, we will see data soon from the state or federal government on how many eggs are being produced in Grant County and southwest Wisconsin. Such data is very useful in economic development. We can market to Additional businesses that would support this growing industry.
Our cheese industry is solid and shows signs of growing. Saputo’s plans in Lancaster continue to develop. Other businesses have contacted us to research opportunities. Like with the egg business, dairy businesses attract other food processing industries. It is common to see industrial clusters, or groups of businesses that commonly support the other. As an example, we have cow and goat dairy farms. Then, we have a cheese plant to process the milk, whey plants to process the liquid whey, warehousing, trucking, and companies that service these industries. Food production is a powerful industry and one that handles economic ups and downs well.
Last week my Board of Directors was treated to a tour of the Tranel Family Dairy Farm. This organic dairy farm milks over 500 head. It was a fun and very educational tour. My Board really enjoyed the opportunity to learn. Organic is what I call a double diversity factor for Grant County. We have such diversity in our agriculture economy with the “conventional” farming and “Organic” farming. Anything raised conventional now has an organic side. Obviously dairy, but crop production, egg production, beef, swine, and even our seed companies have organic production to meet the market demand.
So far this year, I have been working with 40 different prospective businesses, with 18 of the 40 directly relating to our agriculture industry cluster. I love the diversity, power, and prosperity this brings to our economy.
Ron Brisbois, Executive Director – Grant County Economic Development Corp.