Wisconsin: A Guide to the Badger State

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Agriculture

THOUGH financial figures indicate that Wisconsin is more an industrial than an agricultural State, agriculture can properly be called its basic activity. While means of communication and manufacture were still primitive, and long before recreation had become a business, agriculture supported the settlement and development of the State. Even now, outside of Milwaukee and the eastern industrial regions, almost all commercial, manufacturing, and professional life is closely related to rural prosperity.

A century or so ago there were no farms at all. Sixty years ago six-sevenths of the State was still blanketed with virgin forest. Thirty years ago a thousand sawmills were cutting two and a half billion feet of lumber annually from a region still heavily timbered. But now about 200,000 farms occupy three-fifths of all the land in the State, and agriculture has progressed from a one-crop type based on wheat to a diversified crop and livestock system crowned by the richest dairy development in the world. For the time being, at least, major trends are stabilized.

The Wisconsin landscape, incessantly varied in pattern but almost universally unvarying in essentials, is a visible summary of the State's rural economy. Woodlots crown the ridges, pastures cover the slopes, and fields of hay or grain lie in the valleys, illustrating at a glance the prevailing farm formula: crops support livestock, and livestock supports the farmer. This formula holds good for all regions, for there is not a single county in which dairying and its supporting feed crops are not predominant, from the hilly, stream-cut western border country to the intensively developed southern and eastern areas; from the flat, sandy plain in the center of the State, where agriculture is otherwise restricted to a few specialized crops, to the newly opened dairy belt in the north. Even in the cut-over country, with its short growing seasons and pioneer methods, it serves in rudimentary form as the basis for subsistence farming.

Since competition has arisen in the dairy industry leaders have been striving with every resource of science and education to increase the diversification in the direction of a more balanced agriculture. The depression, repeal of prohibition, and recent droughts have helped to introduce changes which may in time cause a considerable alteration in

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