Wisconsin’s Governor signs nearly a dozen ag-related laws Tuesday

Wisconsin’s Governor Tony Evers signed sixty bills into law Tuesday, with nearly a dozen of them targeting agriculture and rural communities.

Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Joe Bragger says there is always more work to be done, but they are celebrating some long-awaited new laws.

Legislation creating a new system for buying and selling nutrient credits is getting praise from Wisconsin Farm Bureau and the Dairy Business Association.  This nutrient credit trading system will reward farmers for implementing conservation practices on their farms that enhance water quality, allowing them to get paid by manufacturers and other businesses through a third-party clearinghouse.  DBA President Tom Crave says this new law is a win-win-win for Wisconsin, as residents and customers won’t have to bear the full cost of updating wastewater treatment plants and other industrial facilities, and it gives farmers a new revenue stream to offset some of the costs of their innovative soil and water conservation efforts.

Another new Wisconsin law expands the exemption from the commercial driver’s license law for farmers, family members, and employees by removing the state’s mileage restriction to align state law with federal law. Bragger says Farm Bureau applauds the signing of a new law eliminating annual affidavits certifying farmers do not use bovine growth hormone.  Now, that affidavit can be done once and kept on file by the state.

As of now, Wisconsin farmers can include crop insurance proceeds when calculating the state’s manufacturing and agriculture tax credit value.  Bragger says the bill literally puts dollars into the pockets of farmers since they can claim the full credit even if they receive federal crop insurance for a lost harvest.  Without the change, Bragger says farmers who lost revenue because of crop damage also had to pay more in taxes.  The new law will apply to 2019 tax filings. Crave says Federal crop insurance helps offset the losses, but without the new change, those farmers would not have the opportunity to claim the tax credit and would have essentially taken two losses.

Key Wisconsin bills affecting agriculture and rural communities signed into law Tuesday by Governor Tony Evers:

Assembly Bill 344, 2019 Wisconsin Act 128:
Exempts property from the state’s telephone company tax, if it is used to provide broadband service to rural or underserved areas of the state.

Assembly Bill 437, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 131:
Allows records of medication or treatment administered at a recreational camp to be maintained electronically.

Assembly Bill 692, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 141:
Increases funding for the county snowmobile trail and area aids appropriation by $3 million in fiscal years 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Assembly Bill 736, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 145:
Clarifies several county and town zoning provisions including provisions related to county shoreland zoning, town shoreland zoning, and partial county zoning.

Senate Bill 91, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 151:
Creates a clearinghouse for the trading of water pollution credits, and requires the clearinghouse to meet specified requirements.

Senate Bill 684, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 152:
Allows an individual who is licensed by an agricultural agency of another state to take weights and samples of milk in bulk tanks or measure milk in tanks to determine weight.

Senate Bill 685, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 153:
Prohibits the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection from limiting the duration of an affidavit from a milk producer can be used to substantiate a claim that a product is free of synthetic bovine growth hormone.

Senate Bill 298, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 158:
Requires the Department of Natural Resources to create a Lyme disease awareness campaign.

Senate Bill 523, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 163:
Expands the exception from the commercial driver license requirement for farmers, their family members, and employees for the transport of agricultural products, farm machinery, or farm supplies.

Senate Bill 387, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 167:
Modifies the agricultural portion of the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit to include crop insurance proceeds as part of the calculation for the credit.

Senate Bill 669, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 174:
Changes the designated applicable planting and harvesting period to remove constraints on the transportation of agricultural commodities.


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