State officials recognize cheesemakers on Wisconsin Cheese Day

June is Dairy Month across Wisconsin and state officials spent Monday celebrating Wisconsin Cheese Day.

The Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and other state officials spent today visiting growing cheese companies across the state, including Great Lakes Cheese in La Crosse.

Secretary Ben Brancel says the state makes more than 3 billion pounds of cheese every year, exporting a healthy portion of that across the world.

He says the quality of Wisconsin dairy products has never been better and the future is bright.

“The number of products we’re making, the customers we’re reaching have expanded over time, and I don’t see that going away anytime in the near future,” said Brancel.

If there is a concern for the future, Brancel says it’s with international trade agreements like NAFTA.

He says after more than 20 years, it may be time to refresh the terms of NAFTA, especially after a recent trade dispute with Canada in which the country changed its pricing for milk to put American products at a disadvantage.

“The Canadian pricing structure, while it may not be illegal according to NAFTA, certainly does not follow the spirit of free trade and the efforts that we have to make sure both our products and their products have access to the other countries,” said Brancel.

President Donald Trump has threatened to leave NAFTA altogether, before saying he was open to renegotiating the deal in the future.