Elmwood’s Paul Fetzer of Fetzer Farms, representing the Dairy Business Association (DBA) spoke at Cheese Day in Pierce County. Photo by Paul J. Seeling
Elmwood’s Paul Fetzer of Fetzer Farms, representing the Dairy Business Association (DBA) spoke at Cheese Day in Pierce County. Photo by Paul J. Seeling

ELLSWORTH, WI – Paul Fetzer of Elmwood Fetzer Farms and Department of Agriculture, Trade along with Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Sheila Harsdorf and others visited, made a presentation and took a tour at the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery last week.

This visit was part of Gov. Walker’s statewide tour he and other state executives, area legislators and dairy industry leaders did in celebration of the second annual Wisconsin Cheese Day.

Held in conjunction with Dairy Month, “Wisconsin Cheese Day” (June 25) highlights the importance of the cheese industry to Wisconsin’s economy and acknowledges the cheesemakers’ contributions to the industry.

Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery CEO/Manager Paul Bauer welcomed everyone and introduced a few of his veteran key staff members including Joe Hines with 52 years at the Creamery and his brother Dean with 43 years there.

Monday’s Cheese Day was a follow-up to the weekend’s hugely popular Cheese Curd Festival where an estimated 30 to 35,000 visitors came to Ellsworth and the Creamery for all things Cheese Curds.

Sec. Harsdorf along with Elmwood’s Paul Fetzer of Fetzer Farms, representing the Dairy Business Association (DBA), Heather Hines of the Pierce county Economic Development Corporation (PCEDC), Kim Beebe of the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce, Jim Holte, President, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation; and Vincent Rice, Vice-President, Sector Strategy Development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) presented information about the positive economic impact on Pierce County and the State of Wisconsin that agriculture and the dairy industry has. The industry contributes $43.4 billion to Wisconsin’s economy annually. It is a driving force both to the urban and rural economy of the state.

This visit was part of Gov. Walker’s statewide tour he and other state executives, area legislators and dairy industry leaders did in celebration of the second annual Wisconsin Cheese Day.

Held in conjunction with Dairy Month, “Wisconsin Cheese Day” highlights the importance of the cheese industry to Wisconsin’s economy and acknowledges the cheesemakers’ contributions to the industry.
Governor Scott Walker declared Monday, June 25 as “Wisconsin Cheese Day.” The day calls attention to the impact our state’s dairy industry makes locally, nationally and internationally! Secretary Sheila Harsdorf (DATCP) and VP Vincent Rice (WEDC) joined local business leaders and representatives from agriculture at the Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin, where a special proclamation from the Governor was presented to Ellsworth CEO/Manager, Paul Bauer and John Freyholtz, Director of Operations.

The cooperative was started in 1910 to manufacture and sell butter. In 1966 the cooperative began making cheese. Two years later, it began to sell packaged curds. In 1984 Ellsworth was named the State's Cheese Curd Capital because of the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery.

Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery produces 160,000 pounds of cheese curds daily with milk from their 400+ patron family dairy farms.

It is a supplier of cheese curds for state fairs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Alaska.

The WEDC supported Ellsworth's $4.8 expansion with $175,000 of business development tax credits based on the company's capital investment and job creation. The expansion was expected to create 14 new jobs and consisted of new refrigeration space, additional square feet for packaging, and new space for shipping and office space.

Sec. Harsdorf noted in her remarks at Cheese Day in Pierce County that our state’s nearly 1,200 licensed cheesemakers and 146 cheese plants produce over 600 types, styles and varieties of cheese – nearly double the number of any other state. Wisconsin cheese makers make 27% of the nation’s cheese, ranking Wisconsin as the top cheese producing state.

Wisconsin leads the nation in the production of specialty cheeses, such as Feta, Asiago, Gorgonzola, Gouda, Limburger and many others. Wisconsin accounts for 45% of all specialty cheese made in the U.S.

Wisconsin ranks fourth in world cheese production, behind only the United States, Germany and France. Wisconsin produces even more cheese than Italy.

Cheese consumption is at an all-time high. Americans eat about 35 pounds of total cheese each year.

The dairy industry itself contributes $43.4 billion to Wisconsin’s economy each year. The dairy industry is a tremendous driving force in Wisconsin's economy, both rural and urban. The companies that provide inputs into the dairy industry - feed mills, dairy equipment manufacturers and technicians, veterinarians, construction companies, genetics companies, milk haulers, dairy plants, dairy software companies - create a wave of economic impact that rolls across the entire state.

The dairy industry employs 78,900 people in the state. Jobs created by dairy businesses bring long-term stability to local employment bases. Dairy has many career opportunities in areas including animal nutrition, veterinary science, genetics, biotechnology, equipment engineering, manufacturing, marketing and finance.

Wisconsin is home to about 8,600 dairy farms, which is more than any other state. Diversity keeps Wisconsin’s dairy industry thriving with farms of all types and sizes. Ninety-six percent of Wisconsin dairy farms are family-owned. Wisconsin produces about 14% of the total U.S. milk production.

Congratulations to the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, its 300 hardworking employees and 400-member dairies on being honored by the Governor on Cheese Day in Wisconsin in Pierce County!