The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board has a new name – Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW). This initiative represents a new strategic mission, vision and identity more firmly aligning the efforts of Wisconsin’s dairy farmers to expand growth opportunities domestically and around the world.
“As the marketing and promotion arm for Wisconsin’s dairy farmers, this new identity puts the dairy farmers squarely at the center of what we do and provides a much stronger platform to share the Wisconsin dairy story,” says Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin CEO Chad Vincent. “Our organization exists to be tireless advocates for our dairy farmers, to help these family businesses thrive because they, and the fruits of their labor, are the heartbeat of the industry and our state.”
“The dairy industry is facing several challenges, including globalization of our markets, increased regulation and ongoing low prices for milk,” says Jeff Strassburg, Chair of the Board of Directors and a fifth generation Wisconsin dairy farmer. “This change will put Wisconsin dairy farmers in a better position to help us grow and stay focused on the future.”
The Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin builds awareness of Wisconsin-produced dairy products by creating national publicity, managing digital advertising, and driving sales, distribution and trial through retail and foodservice promotions. It also supports in-school education about the benefits of dairy and funding for the UW Center for Dairy Research.
As a key economic engine of the state, the dairy industry contributes $43.4 billion annually to Wisconsin’s economy, generates tens of thousands of jobs and supports a variety of allied industries – as well as communities – throughout the state. Ninety percent of the milk in Wisconsin goes into making cheese, and 90 percent of that cheese is sold outside state lines, generating statewide income across multiple economic sectors. Through the partnership between farmers and dairy processors, the state has seen Wisconsin specialty cheese sales outpace the cheese category overall and per capita consumption of cheese more than double since 1983.
The Specialty Food Association has announced that the 2018 class of sofi Award winners will be named on Wednesday, April 11. The complete list of winners will be available here on GourmetNews.com on April 12.
The Maryland Senate voted unanimously today to pass HB 1106, which would expand where home bakers can legally sell their homemade treats. Currently, the state has some of the strictest limits in the nation, and only allows home bakers to sell at farmer’s markets or at special events. But sell those very same cakes or cookies anywhere else, including from a baker’s very own home—where they are already being made—and bakers risk heavy fines and even jail time. The bill now heads to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature.
HB 1106 would change this by allowing home bakers to sell directly from home or through mail deliveries. The bill would also allow home bakers to take custom orders, which can be both lucrative and in demand for consumers. HB 1106 would only apply to food sold under Maryland’s “cottage food” law, which lets Marylanders sell “nonhazardous” homemade food, like cakes, cookies, or jams.
“Passing this bill would expand economic opportunity and would leaven some common-sense into Maryland’s half-baked cottage-food law,” said Pablo Carvajal, Baltimore Activism Manager at the Institute for Justice. “Cottage food is inherently safe, and the government shouldn’t arbitrarily restrict where inherently safe food is sold.”
According to a report by the Institute for Justice, 49 states (including Maryland) currently allow the sale of cottage food. Yet Maryland is just one of a dozen states that bans home bakers from selling out of their homes, and one of three that prohibits sales at all venues except farmer’s markets.
“Maryland makes running a cottage food business out of the home nearly impossible for people like me who have big dreams but can’t fork over thousands of dollars on a commercial kitchen space,” said Zak Whipp, a Baltimore-based baker who testified in favor of the bill earlier this year. “Reforming the law will positively impact countless of cottage foods entrepreneurs across the state.”
If the governor signs HB 1106, Maryland will join a growing, nationwide movement. On Monday, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin approved a bill that legalizes home-baking businesses for all residents in the Bluegrass State. The Institute for Justice has secured victories for home bakers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is currently challenging New Jersey’s complete ban on selling homemade goods.