MADISON (WKOW) -- The Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection died while on vacation in Michigan on July 21. Secretary Rod Nilsestuen reportedly dove into a cove in Lake Superior.
DATCAP Deputy Secretary, Randy Romanski, issued the following statement on Nilsestuen's passing:
"Rod Nilsestuen was a visionary leader, inspiring innovator and a true champion for agriculture. Rod was an extraordinary servant for the people of Wisconsin during his nearly eight years as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection, where the policies he put in place have contributed to a renaissance of the dairy industry, seeing record highs in milk, cheese and specialty cheese production. His belief in investing in agriculture at all levels has helped diversify Wisconsin's agricultural economy. Whether promoting investment credits for dairy farms and plants, working to break down barriers for interstate meat sales, or promoting homegrown biofuels, Rod worked tirelessly for Wisconsin agriculture. Perhaps one of his greatest legacies will be his efforts to protect Wisconsin's best farmland through the Working Lands Initiative. Rod was too modest to call attention to his accomplishments, but his tenure at the Department as well as his many years of leadership in the cooperative movement have marked an amazing career that has meant a stronger agricultural economy for Wisconsin. Rod was a wonderful person whose compassion and humor made those around him feel like family. We are deeply saddened by this tremendous loss and all of our thoughts and prayers are with his family."