The World Dairy Expo hosts and celebrates a global audience of dairy producers each year, but the Wisconsin dairy industry has always remained a standout on the event’s international platform. The state is a milk production powerhouse, producing a record 29 billion pounds of milk last year, but the product Wisconsin is truly famous for is cheese, thanks in large part to the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program and the efforts of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) that helped bring it to life.
Patrick Geoghegan, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for WMMB, sat down with me for an interview during the expo to discuss how the program has helped build Wisconsin cheese production, which has grown by over 26 percent since 2005, and to explain how it is fueling Wisconsin’s 43 billion dollar dairy sector.
“90 percent of Wisconsin’s milk goes into cheese making, and 90 percent of the cheese produced in Wisconsin is sold outside of the state’s borders,” said Geoghegan. “This program is a fantastic way to bring money back into the state of Wisconsin and fuel our economy.”
The rigorous Master Cheesemaker Program, the only one of its kind outside of Europe, provides cheesemakers with a singular opportunity to reach the highest levels of their craft. 59 active Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers currently work in 32 companies across the state, holding certifications in 35 different cheese varieties. Licensed cheesemakers with over ten years of experience are eligible to apply for the three year program, which allows participants to receive Master certification in up to two cheese varieties.
Geoghegan also discussed a few of the other programs WMMB has created to help promote Wisconsin cheese, including the record breaking results from the 2016 Grilled Cheese Academy Recipe Showdown contest. The contest sought out the nation’s greatest grilled cheese recipe, and a record number of submissions were received this year from all 50 states.
Learn more in my full interview with Patrick here:
Interview with Patrick Geoghegan, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
View and download photos from the event here: 2016 World Dairy Expo Photo Album.