Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Campaign Cash

Should State Drop “America’s Dairyland” Slogan?

Big bucks WMC wants license plates changed. Big bucks Dairy Business group disagrees.

By - Oct 18th, 2017 10:58 am
2007 Wisconsin License Plate. Photo is in the Public Domain.

2007 Wisconsin License Plate. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Two of the most powerful industry groups in Wisconsin are in a spat over “America’s Dairyland.”

Kurt Bauer, executive director of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), no longer wants that slogan to appear on Wisconsin’s license plates, which it has since World War II, according to an article by Mark Sommerhauser of the Wisconsin State Journal. Bauer wants to change it to “Forward,” which he thinks would be more attractive to millennials and more reflective of Wisconsin’s changing economy with the Foxconn deal.

But his suggestion, which was made at a WMC luncheon on Monday, has curdled the Dairy Business Association.

“Considering the dairy community’s continuing contribution to the culture and economy of our state, it would be disheartening to make such a change after nearly 80 years,” said Mike North, president of the Dairy Business Association, in a press release on Tuesday. “The dairy community — with its hard-working farm families, cheesemakers and host of other supporting businesses — has been the backbone of this state for well over a century. That heritage, and how far we have come, should be great sources of pride. Those are things to be celebrated, not hidden.”

It’s rare for WMC and the Dairy Business Association to lock horns. Typically, they lobby together to oppose corporate taxation and regulations on high-capacity wells and water pollution, among other issues. And with their combined power, they win victory after victory.

The Democracy Campaign estimates that WMC spent $25.9 million between 2006 and 2014 to support pro-business conservative and Republican candidates for governor, attorney general, Supreme Court and the legislature.

Much of WMC’s secret election spending has gone to support Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The group has doled out an estimated $9.5 million to help Walker win his 2010 general, 2012 recall, and 2014 reelection contests, with volleys of statewide television ads, like these –  here and here for a couple of examples– that praised Walker or attacked his Democratic opponent. WMC was the single biggest lobbyist in the first half of 2017.

The Dairy Business Association, for its part, is backed by dozens of wealthy special interest sponsors that have contributed more than $2.1 million to statewide and legislative candidates, including more than $710,000 to Republican Gov. Scott Walker in recent years.

24 thoughts on “Campaign Cash: Should State Drop “America’s Dairyland” Slogan?”

  1. Paul M. says:

    I’d like to see a more attractive, contemporary design for the plates, regardless of whether the keep the “America’s Dairyland” phrase.

  2. Frank Galvan says:

    Forward? The Wisconsin State Motto has been “Backwards” for almost a decade. WMC helped change it.

  3. Vincent Hanna says:

    “This State Brought To You By Foxconn”

  4. Reader says:

    Eat Cheese or Die

  5. MKE kid says:

    This issue is as useless and as big a waste of time as declaring the kringle the official state pastry. No surprise that the shady WMC is involved.

  6. I thought of the Forward! motto years ago, and considered it appropriate, since that is the direction vehicles go most of the time. (I would have written it in italics, with an exclamation point.)

    However, our dairy products are so good, and our cheeses of worldwide stature, that I think the existing slogan speaks to quality, character and cultural identity. America’s Dairyland is the whey to go.

  7. Mo Louis says:

    Fabulous & Frozen

  8. A M says:

    Sorry my eyes just ROLLED OUT of my face at the idea that WI is going to attract millennials with a license plate slogan while also working to become a regressive garbage pile of a state that’s working hard to destroy its own education system, environment, access to affordable healthcare, and protections for LGBT individuals. Oh, but I’ll be able to get a job working for a company that’s literally famous because of their employee suicide rate. Wow, sign me up.

  9. James says:

    What a coincidence. In “More To Be Done,” Governor Walker highlights the results of bold reform and his plans to keep moving Wisconsin forward.

    “Wisfoxconn: Open for Business”

  10. The only way I could see having “Forward” on a license plate is if it includes an image of the venerable “Miss Forward” sculpture (in front of Madison’s capitol) wearing a pink pussy-hat at the Women’s March there last January.

    But irony is completely lost on Walker & other raiders of Wisconsin’s great legacies.

  11. Brewer says:

    FORWARD? How about “The best government money can buy/”

  12. Mike says:

    How about removing the front plate requirement like other states?

  13. Mark E. Bye says:

    My suggestion? “Let Alex Do The Driving!”

  14. Paul says:

    We’ve already emasculated the State’s environmental protections, judicial review procedures and TIF requirements, so why not throw in the license plate slogan as well, all for a company that has yet to put a shovel in the ground or create 1 new job. Sounds like another brilliant WMC idea. I sure wish WMC and Walker and his cronies would put as much effort into attracting Amazon HQ II, a truly transformational project that wouldn’t pollute our beloved Lake MI.

  15. myfivecents says:

    NO, it should not change it. It still is America’s Dairyland. Look at all of the cheese Wisconsin produces every year. You certainly can’t change to something like forward when all the state has been doing is going backward for the past 7 + years.

  16. Rob B says:

    Completely agree with you Paul M. I’m good with whatever slogan but we could definitely use an update! Most other states have contemporary and visually appealing plates

  17. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    You know what could help Wisconsin’s image? Firing the scumbuckets at WMC and their GOP-puppets at the Capitol. Their regressive mentality and anti-innovation rent-seeking is driving talent out of the state.

    And a battle between WMC and the pro-polluting Big Ag interests at the DBA is one of those matchups where you root for a bomb to destroy them both.

  18. ernesto garcia says:

    Wisconsin going backwards welcome to the new south

  19. WashCoRepub says:

    Well, me and a lot of others I know would love to purchase a special “Governor Scott Walker” license plate edition. With everything he’s done for this state, it would be a nice little tribute. Not sure if that’s legally possible, though.

  20. Bill says:

    Are they serious? Like anyone would consider moving to a state or not based on the license plate slogan. Keep it the same to spite their ridiculous idea if for no other reason. The WMC touts our business climate because we have succeeded (maybe) in bringing a Gummi Bear factory to the state, so that mindset is more problematic than a license plate slogan. Foxconn will not transform Kenosha into “Wisconn” Valley, as so many have proclaimed in their absurd comparisons to Silicon Valley. Low level production work by a company headquartered elsewhere and assembling products designed elsewhere does not make your area a hotbed of innovation and venture capital spending. The upper level corporate employment, R&D, software engineers, etc., will not be in WI. If it ever becomes a reality, they’ll just eat up and spit out tons of relatively low skilled, lower wage workers. It’s like comparing an Amazon distribution center to their headquarters. The WMC would be great….if it were 1950.

  21. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    In 1950, businesses wanted us to invest in our public schools and the UW. WMC doesn’t even want that. They’re just pathetic rent-seekers trying to grab as much money as they can without working hard to earn it.

    And with the story out today about how giving millions to Kestrel in Superior resulted in basically no jobs and a lot of wasted tax dollars 5 years later, why would we believe a similar pre-election stunt/giveaway with Fox-con would end up any differently?


  22. James says:

    @ Jake – Thanks for the link.

    From the article:

    “The board could vote on the Foxconn deal as early as Nov. 8, but as is common practice, members will only be allowed to review a document that a WEDC staff underwriter prepares summarizing the agreement. That document isn’t being released publicly while the board deliberates. The board and the public won’t be able to see the contract itself until after the contract is signed.”

    A $3 billion deal , but “[board] members will only be allowed to review a document that a WEDC staff underwriter prepares summarizing the agreement.” Open for business.

  23. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    James- And ZERO ability for the state’s FInance Committee or other legislators to say “NO” if they feel taxpayers are being left at unnecessary risk due to the finalized deal.

  24. By the time Foxconn’s fleecing of Wisconsin takes full effect, and Wisconsincitizen tax contributions to their operation have been bled dry, most if not all the pols approving the horrid Fox-CON will be off to greener pastures (or shuffled off to Buffalo).

    How about: “Wisconsin: Driving Over a Cliff”?

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