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Ag groups fight for Wisconsin Farm to School budget

 

Nineteen Wisconsin agricultural groups are working to save the state’s Farm to School program, but Wisconsin’s Ag Secretary says the program is not going away.  “The budget as it’s proposed for Farm to School addresses a position.  It does not talk about the program.”

Farm to School supporters want more than 86-thousand dollars put back in the state budget.  Ben Brancel tells Brownfield the previously budgeted money never paid for a state coordinator.  “There was a coordinator position in our agency that dealt with that program.  It eliminates a grant under that program that was never funded.  It’s never been used.”

Brancel tells Brownfield the proposed budget would eliminate a position and dissolve a 15-member advisory council, but it would not end the program, which already has oversight from his office.  “Whether we have that position or not, we will continue to administer our activities along the lines of the Farm to School issue to make sure that those that need information are able to get that information.”

The 19 Wisconsin farm groups jointly sent a letter to members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee Monday, saying the program spurs over $9 million dollars in purchases of locally grown foods by Wisconsin schools annually.

Brancel says it did not matter what political party was in control, the Farm to School coordinator grant was never funded and never used.  The Farm to School coordinator position has been vacant for almost a year.

 The groups sending the letter to the Joint Finance Committee are:

  • Dairy Business Association
  • FairShare CSA Coalition
  • Grassworks
  • Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
  • Midwest Food Products Association
  • REAP Food Group
  • School Nutrition Association of Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin Agri-Business Association
  • Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments & Boards
  • Wisconsin Association of Professional Agricultural Consultants
  • Wisconsin Cattlemen Association
  • Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association
  • Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation
  • Wisconsin Farmers Union
  • Wisconsin Pork Association
  • Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association
  • Wisconsin Public Health Association
  • Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance
  • Wisconsin Soybean Association

 

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