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Ag groups pleased with new Wisconsin biennial budget

Wisconsin’s new biennial budget is getting a good grade from the state’s agriculture groups.

One of them is Wisconsin Farm Bureau, where Karen Gefvert says broadband and local road aids get stronger support, and she says this is the first budget in a long time with so many agriculture-related funding priorities. “We secured some funding for state agriculture specialists at the university. Those are the people who do our research for our production agriculture in the state. There’s some money for meat processor grants for capital facility improvements. There is also some program positions for state meat inspectors.”

Gefvert tells Brownfield Farm Bureau is also pleased with increased funding for the Dairy Processor Grant program, five million dollars for promoting Wisconsin agricultural exports, and funding for ongoing farmer mental health assistance, and approval to upgrade the Barron County veterinary diagnostic lab.  Gefvert says the new budget also adds funds for capping abandoned wells, farmer-led watershed groups, and additional county conservation staff.

With much of Farm Bureau’s wish list in the new budget, Gefvert says there is still work to do. “The nitrate issue lingering out there with (administrative rule) NR151 at the Department of Natural Resources, and so that’s something that we’re going to work on next session, and there have been a couple of other things as we go like the Truth in Labeling legislation (for meat and dairy). That’s a really important issue for our members.”

The Truth in Labeling for meat and dairy products bills have already passed the Assembly and are awaiting action in the State Senate.

Wisconsin Farmers Union leaders are also pleased with the new budget.  President Darin Von Ruden says, “The budget includes some significant funding for Wisconsin agriculture that will build our resiliency coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.”  In a statement, Von Ruden says, “It has been a whirlwind week in the realm of agricultural policy with many long-awaited victories for family farmers.  Our voices have been heard on these issues, and this week’s advancements on (federal) topics like right to repair, fair labeling, competitive markets, and local control will provide real benefits to farms across rural Wisconsin.” 

The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association Executive Director John Umhoefer also praised the new budget.  “The state’s new spending plan demonstrates a long-term, bipartisan commitment to growing Wisconsin’s $105 billion agricultural economy.  We thank Governor Evers and legislative leaders for working together to strengthen the state’s rural infrastructure and partner with dairy processors to build their businesses and create rewarding job opportunities statewide.”  Umhoefer says, “Bipartisan support for targeted, smart investments in Wisconsin’s dairy industry is most welcome news for farmers and processors, as they continue to meet the challenges of market volatility and a workforce shortage.”

Cooperative Network issued a statement supporting additional budget language that funds broadband expansion, 200-thousand dollars in each of the next two years for Cooperative Feasibility studies by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and a higher 1.35% Motor Vehicle Fuel Supplier Administrative Allowance for collecting and paying gas taxes to the state.

Governor Evers did use his partial veto power to remove language that would have ended Wisconsin’s personal property taxes.

Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Karen Gefvert discusses the new Wisconsin state budget with Brownfield’s Larry Lee

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