MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The head of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will step down next month after seven years on the job.
Gov. Scott Walker’s office issued a news release Thursday saying Ben Brancel will retire from the agency on Aug. 13. Brancel sent a letter to Walker saying he wants to return full-time to his family’s farm in Marquette County. (Read the complete letter below.)
Brancel served in the state Assembly from 1986 to 1997. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson appointed him DACTP secretary in 1997. He served in that capacity until 2001, when he became state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Services Agency.
Walker appointed Brancel as secretary of DATCP in January 2011 and again in 2015.
Letter from DATCP Secretary Ben Brancel
At the Board of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection meeting today in Tomahawk, I announced my retirement from state public service. I will retire on August 13.
When I was in high school, a national trip by the 4-H organization gave me a chance to meet my Congressman Melvin Laird. He instilled in me a desire to enter public service someday.
In 1986, the citizens of the 42nd Assembly District gave me an opportunity to start my service at the state level. Then, in 1997, Governor Thompson gave me another exciting opportunity to serve at a cabinet level position.
Life changed again in 2001 when I started my service as state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. In 2009, I became the state liaison for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2011, Governor Scott Walker gave me another chance to be the Secretary of DATCP.
It has been my pleasure to serve as Secretary. I have given this much thought about when is the right time to retire. I came to the conclusion that there always will be unfinished business to be done, but now is the time to return to my family’s farm full-time in Marquette County as we plan for our first ever production sale. My son and daughter-in-law are now the sixth generation to farm the land. My first job was a farmer, and my last job will be a farmer.
I especially want to thank Governor Walker for the privilege to serve in his cabinet. I am grateful that I was able to be part of this administration, serving farmers, protecting consumers and supporting businesses.
I am very appreciative of my leadership team and the entire staff at the department. The service the agency provides to the public is second to none.
I am humbled by the great opportunities I have had throughout the past three decades. My work has taken me around the world, something I never would have imagined when I was young working in my barnyard.
I have always said that in agriculture, we are a family. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.
Statement from Gov. Scott Walker
Ben has served with distinction as a state representative and speaker of the State Assembly, as DATCP secretary under both our administration and Governor Tommy Thompson’s administration, and as a leader of a number of agricultural organizations in our state. His leadership and counsel on agriculture and trade issues have been invaluable to me, and I thank him for his service and dedication to the people of Wisconsin. We wish Ben and his wife, Gail, all the very best as they begin this new and exciting chapter.
Statement from DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp
The state of Wisconsin will be missing a dedicated public servant with the retirement of Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben Brancel and I will miss serving with him in Governor Walker’s cabinet. Through his many years in public service, Ben has always understood the challenges of making laws and implementing them. I offer my appreciation for those years of service. I congratulate him and wish Ben a rewarding retirement. He has definitely earned it.
Statement from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos
I would like to thank Secretary Brancel for his three decades of public service at every level of government. Undoubtedly, our state is better off because of his commitment, dedication and passion for the agricultural industry. I especially want to thank him for serving as a state representative and Assembly speaker.
I would also like to wish Ben and his wife, Gail, the best of luck in his retirement and his return to their family farm.