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Scott Walker, Governor
Reginald J. Newson, Secretary

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
Email: sec@dwd.wisconsin.gov

Thursday, April 9, 2015
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/news.htm
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

DWD Secretary Welcomes Participants at Wisconsin AgriFuture Summit

MADISON – Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reggie Newson today welcomed representatives from production agriculture, industry, business, education and economic development as well as interested students from universities, technical colleges and high schools at the first-ever Wisconsin AgriFuture Summit hosted by the Wisconsin Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Council.

"The AgriFuture Summit provides an opportunity to bring industry leaders together for an open dialogue on future workforce needs in the agriculture sector," stated Secretary Newson. "Under the leadership of Governor Walker and the Legislature, industry and workforce partners are working to meet the demands of our growing economy through training solutions that grow skills needed for jobs today and in the future."

The Wisconsin AgriFuture Summit provided a forum for partners to discuss ways to meet the future workforce needs of Wisconsin's agriculture industry. The day-long summit featured multiple workforce presentations, industry panels, discussions on the future of the agriculture industry, and a keynote address from Ben Brancel, Secretary of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.

“Agriculture and all of its businesses are a major economic driver for our state, supporting one out of nine jobs,” said Secretary Brancel. “That’s why it is important to have discussions such as these to make sure we have a highly skilled and well qualified workforce in place to keep our agricultural future healthy and growing.”

DWD is committed to ensuring that the agriculture industry in Wisconsin continues to have the workforce it needs to meet future demand so that businesses and our economy can continue to thrive. In 2013, Governor Walker proposed the $15 million Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) initiative, which lawmakers quickly approved with overwhelming bipartisan support. Round 3 of the WFF grant program included 6 grants totaling nearly $300,000 to 18 businesses in the agriculture industry, training a up to 314 workers.

One of the grants went to the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin, in partnership with The Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board and the Wisconsin Agriculture Education and Workforce Council. The grant totaling $13,337 will support training of up to 50 agriculture workers in two projects. One project will focus on unemployed workers receiving basic safety and food handling training for new positions with Andy's Deli Corporation. The second project will focus on agribusiness management and work with up to 16 operations that are members of the Bayfield Food Producers Cooperative.

For additional information:

Wisconsin Agricultural Education and Workforce Council
Wisconsin Fast Forward

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