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Legislation Advances to Ensure DNR Board Has Farmer Representation
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 03/03/2008

The State Assembly passed a bill last week which would require that at least one member of the Natural Resources Board have an agricultural background. The measure was authored by State Rep. Dan LeMahieu of Cascade, who also wants at least three of the board members to have held a hunting, fishing or trapping license in at least seven of the 10 years before the year of being nominated to the board--with an exception for those who may have been on active duty in the military during that time.

The idea for the new policy was sparked when Governor Jim Doyle failed to reappoint Dan Poulson of Palmyra to a third term on the DNR Board last August. Poulson was the only farmer-member to serve on the panel at that time.

"As the only farmer to hold the position in recent years, I was a watch dog for our state's farmers when it came to issues such as non-point source pollution, manure management legislation and clean air policies. I will miss it, but I'm glad to have had the opportunity," Poulson told Wisconsin Ag Connection last summer.

According to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, which Poulson used to lead as its president, farmers need a voice on the DNR Board because they own more than 16 million acres of land in the state and face more and more regulations by the DNR.

If approved, the changes would not be required until 2014. Current law requires that at least three of the members be from north, and at least three members be from south, of a line running east and west through the southern limits of the city of Stevens Point.

Meanwhile, the Assembly also approved a bill that would requires the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Family Services to prepare a plan to consolidate their food safety programs, and include a description of the efficiencies and amount of savings that would result from the plan. Over the last several years, dairy farmers, dairy processors and retail food establishments have continually faced higher licensing and inspection fees and lapses in the account.

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