Wisconsin agriculture secretary to retire next month

The head of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will step down next month after seven years on the job.

Gov. Scott Walker’s office issued a news release Thursday saying Ben Brancel will retire from the agency on Aug. 13.Brancel sent a letter to Walker saying he wants to return full-time to his family’s farm in Marquette County.

Walker appointed Brancel as secretary of DATCP in January 2011 and again in 2015.

Brancel served in the state Assembly from 1986 to 1997. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson appointed him DACTP secretary in 1997. He served in that capacity until 2001, when he became state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Services Agency.