The Dairy Business Association, Wisconsin’s leading dairy advocacy group, today commended Gov. Tony Evers for a proposal to commit $43 million in the next state budget to support the agricultural community.
The association pointed to a number of items, from boosting farm exports and grants for processors to support for conservation efforts and resources to connect farmers with food banks.
Evers announced the proposals today. He’ll submit his full two-year budget plan to the Legislature on Feb. 16.
“Investments in our farmers and processors are critically important to the strength of Wisconsin’s rural communities and the state’s economy overall. The budget plan by Governor Evers shows that he clearly understands this,” DBA President Amy Penterman, who farms with her family in northwestern Wisconsin, said.
“Lawmakers in both parties who last session, and already this session, laid the groundwork for many of these programs also deserve praise for their commitment.”
Penterman touched on several specific proposals:
- Creating and funding the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports ($2 million) and increasing funding for the Dairy Processor Grant Program ($1.2 million).
“Exports are fundamentally important to the success of Wisconsin’s dairy community, and boosting support for innovation at our dairy plants will ensure that processors can meet demands efficiently. Investments in these areas would help ensure long-term viability.”
- Investing $20 million to help connect Wisconsin food banks and pantries with Wisconsin producers.
“Many Wisconsin residents are struggling to afford wholesome and nutritious food because of lost jobs and business closures due to the pandemic. The federal Farmers to Families Food Box program last year helped families survive and also assisted farmers by boosting demand for milk and cheese. This new investment would provide another lifeline.”
- Bolstering local meat processing.
“Every dairy farmer is also a beef producer. Supporting innovation and workforce development would help keep Wisconsin’s meat processing industry strong.”
- Support for farmer-led conservation efforts, such as an additional $500,000 for the Producer-Led Watershed Grant Program.
“Farmers are leaders when it comes to caring for our natural resources. The Dairy Business Association closely supports a number of farmer-led watershed conservation groups around the state. They are proving through science that innovative farming practices are protecting and improving water quality.”
- Providing funding to support additional University of Wisconsin-Extension specialists and county agents (additional $2 million).
“Agricultural research is so important as we saw with the creation of the Dairy Innovation Hub. More support for UW-Extension will strengthen this commitment and keep Wisconsin at the forefront.”