A special session of the Wisconsin legislature opening this week seeks to help the state’s struggling dairy industry. 

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed an executive order last week to authorize the special session to consider eight agriculture-focused bills. 

They include farmer assistance, stress and mental health support, promoting value-added agriculture, farm grants and a focus on exports. 

Evers announced the plan during his State of the State Address last week, and says, “It’s about investing in and supporting our rural families and communities.” 

The governor hopes to increase Wisconsin dairy exports to 20 percent of the nation’s milk supply by 2024. 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported earlier this month that last year, Wisconsin lost nearly 700 dairy farms. 

The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association says the industry is challenged by trade instability, poor weather conditions, a severe labor shortage, and a decline in milk consumption. 

Association executive director John Umhoefer, “Urgent action is needed to stabilize and strengthen Wisconsin’s backbone industry.“