Nearly 75 cooperative business directors, managers, and staff met in Madison last week for Cooperative Network’s 2020 Wisconsin Co-op Day at the Capitol on Wednesday, February 5. Six cross-sector lobbying groups met with more than 30 lawmakers to share how certain proposals would affect their businesses and communities. Participants included Cooperative Network members from agriculture, credit union, dairy, electric, health care, mutual insurance and other member-owned cooperatives throughout the state.
It was clear during the meetings that helping farmers and Wisconsin agriculture is a top priority for cooperatives and legislators, alike, especially during the last days of the legislative session. Cooperative Network is engaged on two concurrent and urgent efforts regarding agriculture: the first, stemming from Governor Tony Evers’ Special Session on agriculture that he highlighted in his State of the State address, and the second being an Assembly GOP agriculture package that Speaker Robin Vos and other state representatives introduced in a press conference on February 4.
Cooperative Network and its members are grateful to have Wisconsin state politics put the struggles of the agriculture community at the forefront during this critical time. The ideas presented by the administration and the Assembly Republicans will provide substantial financial support for agriculture and rural communities. As such, Cooperative Network supports several specific bills.
In the Governor’s package, Cooperative Network strongly supports Special Session AB 7, which gives $1.2 million in Dairy Processor Grants aimed to support operational changes that improve profitability. Cooperative Network also supports Special Session AB 6, a $1 million initiative aimed to build Wisconsin’s dairy brand in international markets and increase all US dairy exports. From the assembly package, Cooperative Network is excited about AB 873 – an income tax credit for the property taxes paid on agricultural buildings and improvements. Finally, the organization supports AB 875 which would allow farmers, and other “sole proprietors” to deduct health insurance costs from their income taxes.
Cooperative Network would like to thank the Wisconsin leaders who are spearheading the efforts to help our agriculture communities during these challenging times. The organization looks forward to the passage of these bills and others that will provide relief for farmers.
Cooperative Network is committed to protecting and promoting Minnesota’s and Wisconsin’s cooperative businesses and their shared cooperative principles by providing advocacy, learning and development and public awareness for a diverse variety of cooperatives. For more information about Cooperative Network, visit www.cooperativenetwork.coop.