During the 1820s lead-mining boom, the many miners who came from nearby states were called ‘badgers’ for their subterranean activities. Following statehood in 1848 and the Civil War, immigrants poured in – from Germany and Scandinavia most notably. The Badger State was soon known for its beer, butter, cheese and paper.
While Wisconsin still leads the nation in the number of dairy farms and clings to the ‘top cheesemaker’ title, its role is under threat. Midsize farms here, as throughout the country, are having a tough time: almost a third of Wisconsin’s dairies have shut down in the past 10 years.