MADISON — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers recently signed the state’s 2019-21 biennial budget, providing $8.8 million in funding for broadly defined dairy research at UW-Madison, UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls, a move dairy supporters from across the state are applauding.

The legislation was first introduced in May by Sen. Howard Marklein and Rep. Travis Tranel, with a number of legislators also co-sponsoring the Senate bill. The proposal also received support from the Governor’s Dairy Task Force 2.0 as the establishment of the hub was included in their list of recommendations.

Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection commended the actions of Evers, thanking him and legislators for signing what he called “a down payment on the People’s Budget” and “a solid step forward on the road ahead.”

“For several years, Wisconsin farmers have faced a triple whammy of low commodity prices, trade uncertainty and challenging weather,” said Pfaff. “These conditions have caused significant financial and emotional stress for the agriculture community across our state. Governor Evers and I recognize that, and the budget he signed is a better budget for those family farmers and the rural communities they call home.”

Industry professionals echoed Pfaff’s comments, thanking Evers and legislators for making dairy research and innovation a priority in America’s Dairyland.

“Keeping our dairy community healthy requires investment — by farmers, by processors, by lenders, by the state and by many others who play vital roles in America’s Dairyland,” said Tom Crave, president of the Dairy Business Association. “By including the Dairy Innovation Hub in the newly signed spending plan, state leaders have made a strong statement that our dairy economy, our rural communities and our identity as the Dairy State matter.”

“Through next-generation research in areas such as land and water use, health and nutrition and integrating farm businesses, the dairy hub will keep us on a track toward long-term success,” Crave said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the UW and lawmakers to bring the hub to life. There are a lot of great things to come for our dairy community.”

“Wisconsin’s dairy industry has faced challenges, but we firmly believe that product innovation and world-class research hold the key to dairy’s future success and profitability,” said John Umhoefer, executive director of Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. “State of Wisconsin support offered through the Dairy Innovation Hub will keep Wisconsin dairy farming on the cutting-edge and link milk production to new product development through our great University system, working hand-in-hand with industry partners.”