WCMA Testimony in Support of Romanski Confirmation
Testimony: May 5, 2021
Wisconsin State Senate Committee on Agriculture and Tourism
Re: Confirmation of Randy Romanski to Serve as DATCP Secretary
Submitted by: Rebekah Sweeney, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association
Madam Chair and Members,
I’m Rebekah Sweeney, and I work as Communications, Education and Policy Director for the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.
Since 1891, WCMA has served as an advocate, networking hub and trusted provider of information and education for dairy product manufacturers. Today, our organization has grown to represent nearly 700 companies and cooperatives nationwide, with membership including 88 dairy manufacturers or processors with Wisconsin operations and 223 companies based in Wisconsin that supply goods or services to our industry.
I’m pleased to have the opportunity to speak to you today on behalf of WCMA members, who strongly support the confirmation of Secretary-designee Randy Romanski to lead the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.
Secretary-designee Romanski has a long and distinguished career in public service, which as you know includes previous experience as the head of the agency. He has also served admirably through the past 18 months, first as Interim Secretary and then as Secretary-designee, amid tumultuous times.
WCMA members have valued Secretary-designee Romanski’s leadership on the development of the Wisconsin Farm Support Program and Food Security Initiative, as well as his work to address pressing industry needs, including access to personal protective equipment. The Secretary-designee was also the key voice, working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to improve the national Food Box Program by expanding the variety of dairy product offerings in the 150 million boxes delivered to families. This expansion directly assisted smaller and mid-sized Wisconsin cheese manufacturers during an exceptionally difficult year.
Throughout the pandemic, he demonstrated a personal commitment to clear, open and regular communication with the agricultural community. Briefings with groups like WCMA, occurring weekly in the early days of the crisis, continue now on a monthly basis, facilitating conversation on far more than COVID-19 and building trust and collaboration.
WCMA members respect Secretary-designee Romanski’s genuine concern for the success of their businesses, demonstrated through his efforts to streamline and simplify regulation and licensing during the pandemic, and to advance rBST reform which ultimately was approved in March 2020. He has been instrumental in the launch and impact of the Dairy Rules Advisory Committee.
Secretary-designee Romanski has also been a strong ally in our work to secure federal monies for the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance, a partnership between WCMA and the Center for Dairy Research delivering technical education and assistance, market research, and direct-to-business grants for dairy farmers and processors.
We know Secretary-designee Romanski has also championed boosts in state funding for agricultural exports and dairy processing grants, and we appreciate his support.
In short, WCMA members believe Secretary-designee Romanski has guided DATCP with pragmatic, dependable and solutions-based leadership, and we believe his confirmation would bring welcome certainty to the agency and to state’s agricultural community. Thank you.