“Ben Brancel is a farmer who looked far beyond his own farm gate and made an impact on all of agriculture in Wisconsin,” said Bill Bruins, WFBF President.
Brancel currently serves as a state relations liaison for CALS, where he is helping map out the future of the Wisconsin Agricultural Research Stations.
Brancel is a fifth generation farmer from Marquette County, where he and his wife, Gail, farm 290 acres and raise Angus beef cattle. His resume includes serving as the 42nd Assembly District in the State Assembly from 1987 to 1997, during which time he rose to the rank of Assembly Speaker. He was then appointed by former Governor Tommy Thompson as the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. In 2001, the Bush Administration named him the Wisconsin Director of the Farm Service Agency.
“Ben is a big-picture type of guy,” Bruins said. “When he was the Agriculture Secretary he led a group to Holland to get an up-close look at that country’s systems approach to farming. Early on, he saw the value of agriculture working with the environmental community to develop programs that were sustainable.”
“That trip turned out to be the genesis of what would become Wisconsin’s Discovery Farms and Pioneer Farm projects, and Ben is really the founder of those programs in Wisconsin,” Bruins said.
“As part of the Assembly leadership team he worked diligently with his colleagues to craft our state’s Right to Farm and use value assessment of farmland laws. These two pieces of landmark legislation remain critically important to the future of agriculture in Wisconsin,” Bruins said. “As the powerful Assembly Speaker, he was a very effective leader with a steady hand.”
“At the end of the day, we always knew we could count on Ben to be a friend to agriculture, and for that he is very deserving of the highest individual honor in recognition for service to Wisconsin agriculture that Farm Bureau bestows,” Bruins concluded