The Governor’s Business Development Mission to Mexico concluded yesterday in Guadalajara, with the International Conference on Dairy Cattle (CIGAL) trade show and related events.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (third from left) at the CIGAL 2016 ribbon cutting ceremony

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (third from left) at the CIGAL 2016 ribbon cutting ceremony

CIGAL is a trade show focused exclusively on the dairy industry. The list of exhibitors includes equipment manufacturers, dairy genetics companies, feed companies, pharmaceutical companies and dairy processing companies, as well as training and technical assistance providers. In addition to the trade show, two days of technical seminars are offered for participants.

Dairy products are Wisconsin’s seventh-largest category of exports to Mexico. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has attended CIGAL for more than a decade, but this year’s delegation, which also includes Governor Walker and representatives of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), is the largest the state has ever sent to the event.

Governor Walker and the Wisconsin delegation attended the CIGAL opening ceremony on Wednesday evening, and the Governor conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Wisconsin booth on the show floor. Governor Walker and WEDC representatives traveled back to Wisconsin yesterday, but DATCP representatives and Wisconsin exhibitors are still in Guadalajara, as the trade show ends today.

The DATCP delegation at CIGAL includes representatives from 11 Wisconsin companies, as well as two representatives from the University of Wisconsin and three DATCP staff members. Of the 11 Wisconsin companies, nine qualified to receive funding support (up to $15,000 per company) through a WEDC Collaborative Market Access Grant awarded to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Some of these companies also received funding support from DATCP through a federal State Trade Expansion Program grant administered by WEDC. Because this is a grant program of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), support through the grant is limited to companies that meet the SBA’s definition of a small business within their industry.

Funds from WEDC’s STEP grant to DATCP can be used to cover expenses including booth space and graphic design, in-market trade representative support, mission booklet printing, in-market transportation, and interpretation. Funds from WEDC’s CMAG to UW-River Falls can be used to cover costs associated with CIGAL that are not covered under the STEP grant.

Companies participating in the Wisconsin delegation at CIGAL (and types of funding support they are receiving) include:

The trade show gives Wisconsin companies an opportunity to learn more about market potential in Mexico, connect directly with producers and importers, and set up opportunities for long-term business partnerships. Additional goals of the trade show include establishing and reinforcing connections with Mexican officials and increasing awareness of Wisconsin’s dairy industry, as well as reinforcing and expanding upon Wisconsin’s sister state relationship with the Mexican state of Jalisco, where Guadalajara is located.

“Wisconsin and Jalisco share a great bond, as we are each known as dairy states in our respective countries,” said DATCP Secretary Ben Brancel. “We are grateful for the opportunity to learn more about Wisconsin’s dairy industry and connect with potential buyers from around the world.”

CIGAL wraps up a weeklong business development mission that began in Mexico City. The week’s appointments included meetings with officials from the Jalisco government and Mexican federal government, as well as business groups and representatives of Wisconsin companies with a presence in Mexico and vice versa.

Mexico is Wisconsin’s second-largest export destination, and the state’s exports to Mexico grew during 2015, at the same time exports to Mexico from the U.S. as a whole declined. WEDC regularly organizes global trade ventures to help Wisconsin companies grow their exports to Mexico, but the focus of this week’s trade mission was attracting investment from Mexico into Wisconsin.

“There are 47 Wisconsin-based companies in Mexico with 74 subsidiaries across the country,” said Governor Walker. “We greatly value our friendships and connections in the Mexican marketplace.”