Thank you, Kurt Bauer. Your suggestion to consider taking America’s Dairyland off Wisconsin license plates provided the inspiration for this column.
    Before you floated the idea, I was floundering, searching for an idea for my October column. I was leaning toward writing about the fall colors and how my 2017 garden fared. But then Mr. Bauer spoke at a meeting in mid-month and washed away all garden column thoughts.
    Bauer is the president of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC). According to its website, the WMC has its office in Madison, Wis., and dates to 1911. The organization describes itself as the state’s chamber of commerce and largest business trade association, representing more than 3,800 employers of every size and from every sector of the economy.
    The WMC president stated that he prefers a more contemporary phrase to grace Wisconsin’s many thousands of license plates. He offered as a possible substitute the Badger State’s scintillating and memorable motto: Forward.
    At least he didn’t suggest neutral or reverse.
    Bauer said he thinks words that point to the state’s wide-ranging manufacturing sector would be a better fit on the plates. Wisconsin makes everything from engines and turbines to heating and cooling equipment, to motorcycles and military vehicles, along with vital products as paper towels and toilet paper.
    And it also makes cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream. The last time I looked, those were all dairy products. And they all helped Wisconsin earn its well-deserved title of America’s Dairyland.
    Where I live and work, agriculture is important. Right now, from my office window, I see cornfields and soybean fields. Beef cattle graze in the distance.
    Milk trucks rumble on the county road. There’s a dairy farm with iconic, black-and-white cows just three miles distant, and another such family farm five miles the other way, plus many more perched atop the ridges and tucked into the valleys.
    For me, the America’s Dairyland license plate slogan makes perfect sense. It’s been traveling up and down city streets, highways and byways, rural routes and gravel roads for 77 years, since 1940.
    My meager collection of plates does not contain any that go back that far.
    Other states have or have had interesting slogans on their plates. My favorite of those might be from a southern state: Georgia On My Mind. I can hear Willie Nelson right now.
    Idaho’s is cute: Great Potatoes, Tasty Destinations. Iowa’s is good: Fields of Opportunity. I’ve long liked New Mexico’s slogan: Land of Enchantment. Of course, we can’t forget the rebellious and patriotic New Hampshire classic: Live Free or Die.
    If Mr. Bauer does not like America’s Dairyland on our license plates, what might he like? I have compiled a list – not an ultimate compendium or encyclopedia – but a simple list of substitutes. Some are my own creation; some originated in the minds of others.
    With a gentle elbow to the ribs of our neighbor to the west: More Lakes than Minnesota.
    Yes, depending on which source you believe, and the size criteria for a body of water to qualify as a lake, Wisconsin really does have more lakes than Minnesota. The words “10,000 Lakes” reside at the bottom of the Dairy Star car I drive, but my research tells me that Wisconsin could be home to as many as 15,074 documented lakes, most of them not named.
    One source claims that Minnesota has more than 10,000 lakes. But I guess “Land of 11,842 Lakes” just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
    Here’s another possible slogan that I must take credit for: Deep in the Heart of Taxes.
    Yep, Wisconsin has long been known for its fairly cold tax climate. According to the Tax Foundation, in 2010, Wisconsin ranked fifth on the list of highest state and local taxes.
    Wisconsinites paid 11.1 percent of their income in the form of state and local taxes that year. New York topped the list, at 12.8 percent, followed by New Jersey, Connecticut and California.
    I’ll give a nod to New Hampshire for inspiring this as a license plate slogan for Wisconsin: Eat Cheese or Die.
    Here’s a license plate slogan inspired by the one on Illinois plates. My Wisconsin version is: Land of No Presidents – No, Not Even One.
    A quick search of the internet turned up a list of alternate slogans that other keen minds concocted. I suspect they have not found their way onto license plates.
    I like this suggestion for Arizona: But It’s a Dry Heat.
    For Connecticut, consider this alternative: Like Massachusetts, Only the Kennedys Don’t Own It – Yet.
    For Oklahoma, there’s this: Like the Play, Only No Singing.
    For Illinois: Please Don’t Pronounce the ‘S’.
    For Florida, I like this suggested slogan: Ask Us About Our Grandkids.
     Finally, for Wisconsin, maybe Mr. WMC president would prefer this alternative slogan. It plays off Wisconsin’s long and storied cheesemaking tradition that dates to at least the 1830s: Don’t Forget the Crackers.