USDA Official Visits Viroqua, Tours Thriving Farm Business - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

USDA Official Visits Viroqua, Tours Thriving Farm Business

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Viroqua, WISCONSIN (WXOW) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Deputy Secretary, Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, visited Viroqua's Food Enterprise Center Monday.

The 100-thousand square foot building houses three businesses – one of which is Rufus Haucke's Keewaydin Organics.

Haucke's company sends more than 150 varieties of produce to stores in metro areas like Minneapolis, Madison and Milwaukee.

Haucke said the FEC has been instrumental to his company's growth.

Keewaydin moved into the food hub in 2010 and, soon after, bought two new freezers which can hold between 60 and 80 bins of produce each.

Each bin can hold up to 100 lbs of fruit or vegetables.

"What we've seen in this facility is that you need to aggregate product and you need space to get to that institutional buyer quantity that the small guys alone can't do," said USDA Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan.

"Our rural economies need more of an agricultural base," Haucke added. "People are starting to realize there's no need to import food from all over the world. We have plenty of food here."

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