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Wisconsin Agriculture Reacts Favorably to New State Budget
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 07/08/2019

Rural Wisconsin should see improvements to their local roads and broadband service under some of the provisions included in the 2019-21 biennial state budget. Gov. Tony Evers signed the $81 billion spending package on Wednesday, which also funds $8.8 million for a Dairy Innovation Hub in the University of Wisconsin System and an additional $200,000 for promoting Wisconsin foods to local buyers in local markets.

The Green Bay-based Dairy Business Association said in a news release that it was pleased to see the budget include $1 million in an additional funding for a grant program to help farmers find solutions to water quality challenges.

"Keeping our dairy community healthy requires investment--by farmers, by processors, by lenders, by the state and by many others who play vital roles in America's Dairyland," said DBA Board President Tom Crave. "We applaud Governor Evers and the Joint Finance Committee for recognizing the value of empowering farmers through the Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grant Program. This program is one of the best ways the state can support farmers' efforts to protect and improve water quality."

Crave adds that the grants, which nonprofit farmer-led conservation groups must match, will go a long way in supplementing things like cost-share programs for scientific research and innovative manure management practices.

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association Director John Umhoefer said both producers and processors will benefit from the Dairy Innovation Hub, which will make way for cutting-edge research at the UW campuses in Madison, Platteville and River Falls.

And Jim Holte of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau in Madison praised the governor and legislators for funding nearly $500 million for state roads, saying transportation issues continue to be a large concern for rural residents.

Farmers also stand to benefit from the budget's $48 million allocated for expanding the Broadband Expansion Grant program to reach more underserved areas of the state. And $100,000 has been earmarked to research chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin.

Evers did use his authority to mark the document with 78 partial vetoes, which resulted in $78 million more for K-12 schools and eliminated a provision that benefits electric car manufacturer Tesla. Another veto reduced funding for implementing work requirements and drug testing for FoodShare recipients.

Other provisions in the budget include a 10 percent middle class tax cut, $30 million to support programs for Wisconsin veterans, and funds a two percent annual general wage adjustments for most state employees.

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