Growing Wisconsin’s agriculture workforce will be the focus of the newly created Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Council. Under Act 223, authored by Rep. Al Ott (R-Forest Junction) and Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), a council will provide long term promotion of agricultural education and will improve employment opportunities in the state’s diverse and growing agricultural sector. The bill was signed into law April 7 by Governor Doyle.
“From field to factory, agriculture is vital to the well-being of our state. It is not only our history, but also our livelihood,” said Vinehout. “Agriculture generates $51 billion in economic activity every year and provides jobs for close to half a million people.”
“Finding employees is difficult for many who work in agriculture. Motivating young people to take up the study of agriculture is a goal we all share,” Vinehout said. “The creation of the new Council is the beginning of our state-wide effort to grow our work force in a coordinated way.”
“The Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Council will be a valuable resource for identifying and addressing agricultures education and employment needs,” added Rep. Ott. The duties of the Council include:
- Monitor changes in employment needs in agriculture.
- Research emerging jobs and the training needs associated with those jobs.
- Assistance to schools with agricultural material that help teachers better prepare and motivate students for a career in agriculture.
- Encourage the recruitment of agriculture education teachers and offer on-going training for agricultural educators to better prepare children for ag-related jobs.
- Recommend policy related to agriculture education.
Members of the Council include leaders from education, agribusiness and production agriculture as well as state agencies and the legislature. The Council will be completely supported through private donations.
“Agribusinesses in this state firmly believe this initiative will help address their workforce needs, which is why they have pledged to garner private funding for the operation of the Council.” said Ott.