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Ag sec to speak in Monroe
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MONROE - Ben Brancel, Wisconsin's Secretary of Agriculture, will be the featured guest speaker at the Green County Farm Bureau annual meeting set for Thursday, Sept. 6 at the Monroe Theater Guild building in Monroe.

Brancel is a "casual speaker," who can speak about "everything agriculture" off-the-cuff, according to Green County Farm Bureau president Jeff Ditzenberger, Monticello.

"He's well-informed and abreast of everything," Ditzenberger said. "I'm sure he'll touch on the drought and the atmosphere of Wisconsin and Green County agriculture."

Being able to capturing Wisconsin's biggest name in agriculture during the country's worst drought in decades for the bureau's annual dinner meeting had its beginnings years ago, Ditzenberger said.

"He actually came to my farm when he was (Wisconsin's) Farm Service Agency (FSA) director," he said. "We accommodated him and other FSA directors, and I've kept in touch with him."

Ditzenberger said Brancel told him back then, "if I can ever do anything for you... " This was the year Ditzenberger decided to call in that favor.

Ditzenberger is trying to get at least 200 people to attend the meeting.

"This is the most important Farm Bureau meeting of the year; it's where we set our policy for agriculture," he added.

In addition to the Brancel, Ditzenberger has lined up a host of other promoters for the state and agriculture, including Miss Wisconsin USA, Alice in Dairyland and the Cheese Days Ambassador.

Brancel is the fifth generation to be raised on his family's farm in Marquette County. He raises registered Angus and Hereford beef cattle and holds a degree in animal science from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

He was appointed Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) by Gov. Scott Walker in January. He previously served as the DATCP Secretary under Gov. Tommy G. Thompson from 1997-2001.

Brancel served in the Wisconsin Assembly for 11 years, co-chairing the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee in 1995 and was elected Assembly Speaker in 1997.

He was appointed Wisconsin state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Services Agency in 2001. He most recently served as the state relations liaison for UW-Madison's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, where he helped support the Wisconsin Agricultural Research Stations.

This year, voting and non-voting members of the Green County Farm Bureau are welcome to attend the annual meeting, starting at 7 p.m. with "A Taste of Green County" meal ($15) including local brewery beverages and topped off with a chocolate fountain from Chocolate Temptations.

The Monroe Theater guild is located at 910 16th Avenue in downtown Monroe. To register, email or (608) 214-9137.