Getting Behind Farmers

Finally, farms bills that actually help farming.
Thank you, Gov. Evers, for taking the lead for Rural Prosperity.

“Finally, Wisconsin has a leader who values the dedication of our family farmers, recognizes Wisconsin’s role as America’s Dairyland, and wants to learn from those who live and work in rural Wisconsin.” SEN. JEFF SMITH (D-Eau Claire) — It’s Time to Prioritize Rural Prosperity

“The Majority Party has neglected to hold public hearings or schedule votes on legislation that offer solutions to some of the most pressing issues in our state, including the dairy crisis. Wisconsin lost more than a third of dairy farms in the last decade, losing 800 in 2019 alone. At a time when local family farms are disappearing rapidly and Wisconsin is leading the nation in farm bankruptcies, we need to take action.”

It was an exciting State of the State address! Gov. Evers announced several initiatives and challenged the legislature to cooperate and act with urgency on several fronts, including highlighting a message of rural prosperity.

We think the three-part plan to invest in farmers, the agricultural industry, and rural communities makes great sense and deserves bi-partisan support and action.

Here is a summary of the bills — they would:

  • Create the Wisconsin Initiative for Dairy Exports to help build Wisconsin’s presence in international dairy markets.
  • Offer more opportunity for dairy processors who want to innovate and become more efficient in their practice through the dairy processor grant program.
  • Expand the Farm Center to assist farmers in financial planning and farm succession.
  • Increase resources and partnership opportunities for farmers through UW Extension.
  • Provide additional mental health services and peer support programming for farmers.
  • Connect farmers to education and training assistance through new grant programs.
  • Promote producer-consumer relationships in local communities through the Farm-to-School program.

Second, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has been directed to create an Office of Rural Prosperity. This will help advance issues like housing, broadband and other challenges faced by workers and entrepreneurs in small communities. It would be a “one-stop shop” to navigate state programs and resources tailored to rural communities, businesses and workers.

And third, Gov. Evers kept his promise to the people of Wisconsin by creating a Blue-Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity to help promote agriculture and economic prosperity, with membership representing the interests of the agricultural industry and rural businesses and communities. This educated body will help the Governor advance the initiative, measure progress, and anticipate future priorities.

“Democrats stand ready to take up a plethora of proposals, from passing the Wisconsin Initiative for Dairy Exports (WIDE) to providing grants to small dairy processing plants and increasing support for farmer mental health. Unfortunately, Republicans were nowhere to be found. For generations, farmers have served as the backbone for our state, and it is time that we step up and support our agricultural industries and rural communities.”  Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point).

WHERE DOES YOUR LEGISLATOR STAND? Call and find out. Tell them you stand behind farm families, rural communities, and Wisconsin’s agricultural industry. Are they with you?