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Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday touted his financial support of dairy farmers and processors during the past two years and pushed Republican leaders in the Legislature to help do more.
“Because we’ve done so well economically during the pandemic, we have very, very low unemployment — the lowest we’ve ever had — and the state has the largest surplus we’ve ever had. I’ve tried time and time again to convince the Legislature … to step it up,” Evers said at the Dairy Strong conference.
“At this point in time, when we’re hopefully toward the end of this pandemic and moving into even better times, we could invest some of that money in dairy right now,” he said.
Evers said state investments in agriculture have been historic and his administration has directed federal pandemic aid to farmers.He noted that although some agricultural initiatives were removed from the most recent budget, many farmer-friendly items remained in the package, which was approved with bipartisan support in the Legislature and signed by him. Dairy processor grants have been doubled annually, a new meat processor grant program is in place, more money is available for farmer-led watershed conservation groups and there is additional funding for county conservation staffing. Evers said funds for farmer mental health are also an important part of the budget as are increased investments in rural transportation and high-speed internet.
“While all these investments are major steps forward, we still have a lot of work to do, especially as the pandemic has disrupted not only lives but supply chains,” he said.
“We have readily available resources that could be invested to help support our farmers, our families, our dairy and agriculture industries,” Evers said.