Western Technical College hosted a state wide technical college celebration of Agriculture Monday.
According to the National Agriculture Statistics Service, about 70,000 farms, totaling 15 million acres comprise the farming industry in Wisconsin.
"Wisconsin's Ag economy is a very powerful driving force for the overall economy of Wisconsin and we need employees," said Ben Brancel, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection for the state of Wisconsin.
The industry as a whole contributes more than $59 billion to the state's economy each year and with the pervasiveness of technology, it's more important than ever that students entering the field are equipped with extra skills needed to handle programming, computers, and machinery.
"The number one dairy industry when it comes to production of cheese in the nation, right here in the state, number two for milk overall. Yet, it's harder for these dairy operators to stay in business given the twenty-four seven requirement that the labor help that they need to keep these operations. They face an unforcertain future," said Rep. Ron Kind.
The forum at Western Technical College focused on sustainability, financial aspects, and demonstrations of equipment.
"A lot of them already have positions lined up when they're in school and so it's tough. That's why we have to start chasing them when they're first year students to hopefully woo them into our field," said Rob Shields, Precision Ag Manager/Agronomist for Allied Cooperative.
It was part of an effort to highlight the changing technology and draw students into employment.
"You have to be tech savvy as far as how to run those. They have modems in there so they're in two-way communication with us constantly, we're receiving data from that machine and sending data to that machine," added Shields.
"Here you get hands on experience on what it means to directly engage with a piece of apparatus," added Brancel.
Advancing student's abilities while addressing the needs of the community, in an effort to feed into the growth of the agriculture industry in the state.
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