Several leaders in the state’s dairy industry are speaking out against legislation that could result in Wisconsin dropping the phrase “America’s Dairyland” from its license plates.
State Representative Scott Allen (R-Waukesha) began circulating a bill Thursday that would create a contest for high school students to design a new license plate. The winning design would become the standard-issue vehicle plate, with the winner getting $1,000. The proposal comes less than a month after Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s chamber of commerce, suggested state lawmakers explore a redesign of its license plate.
In his co-sponsorship memo, Allen argues the state’s license plates should “reflect who we are, not who we were.” He notes that 88 percent of the state’s labor force works in non-agriculture industries, and Wisconsin should be working to promote that diversity.
The suggestion was met with an immediate backlash from dairy officials, who argued Wisconsin’s recognition as the “dairy state” is something to be proud of. “The idea that would throw that away for a contest seems pretty foolish,” said John Holevoet with the state Dairy Business Association. “The reality is, large companies other states, spend a lot of time and a lot of money trying to get a brand that’s anywhere near as strong.”
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Professional Dairy Producers Executive Director Shelly Mayer. “The dairy industry is very present, has a beautiful future.”
Larry Lee at Brownfield contributed to this report.