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Ag Groups go to Bat for Pfaff Before Confirmation Vote
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 11/05/2019

One day before the State Senate was scheduled to vote on Governor Tony Evers' nomination of Brad Pfaff as head of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, several farm groups on Monday spoke in favor of his confirmation. That's after Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald called upon the governor last week to withdraw Pfaff's nomination, saying there are not enough votes to officially install him as a cabinet member.

In separate letters to members of the Senate, the following groups asked lawmakers to confirm Pfaff as Wisconsin's agriculture secretary: Cooperative Network, Dairy Business Association, Organic Valley Cooperative, Wisconsin Agri-Business Association, Wisconsin Cheese Maker Association, Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, Wisconsin Farmers Union, and Wisconsin National Farmers Organization.

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, which is the state's largest farm lobbying organization, has not yet issued a statement on Tuesday's vote. But they did express support for Pfaff when Evers nominated him in December. And leaders of the Trempealeau County Farm Bureau and Buffalo County Farm Bureau sent their own letters of support for Pfaff.

During an appearance on WTMJ-TV on Sunday, Fitzgerald called Pfaff 'part of the problem' for Wisconsin's struggling agricultural economy, adding that the dairy industry in particular has seen hundreds of farms go out of business in recent months.

"He hasn't dealt with this crisis at all," Fitzgerald said on his television appearance. "He has bungled this job since day one and I know other members of our caucus feel the same way."

Pfaff also clashed with Republicans over funding mental health services for farmers and took heat when he issued a press release on behalf of the agriculture department in July that said 'members of the Joint Finance Committee have chosen to leave farmers behind and are abandoning our state's farmers in the process' when GOP lawmakers had not yet approved funding for a state budget provision that funded health assistance programs.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Kind and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, who are both Democrats, issued their own statements on Monday, calling Pfaff the right choice to lead the DATCP.

"As a kid who grew up on a family farm in Wisconsin, no one understands the challenges that our family farms face or the work that needs to be done to revitalize our state more than Brad Pfaff," Kind said, who once employed Pfaff as a staff member. "Brad has dedicated his life to ensuring Wisconsin farmers, workers, and families have the tools they need to succeed."

Pfaff has been serving as DATCP Secretary-designee since Evers took office in January. In February, the Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously voted in support of his nomination.

If Senators fail to confirm Pfaff, it will be the first such rejection of a governor's cabinet pick since records were first kept more than three decades ago.

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