Wisconsin legislature’s budget draft supports agriculture

A Wisconsin Farm Bureau official says the Legislature’s draft of the state budget funds many of their priorities.

Jason Mugnaini says, “In terms of what we’ve been asking for, a lot was taken care of last night.” He tells Brownfield the Joint Finance Committee supported an additional $50,000 per year for Wisconsin Agriculture in the Classroom Program, included $1.6 million for cover crop rebates, and maintained funding for producer-led watershed protection grants.  He says a couple of grant programs would receive additional funding if signed. “We were able to get some additional investments in the meat processor grants and also the dairy processor grants saw 300 thousand dollars annually in additional funding.”

Mugnaini says legislators also want to expand the Wisconsin Initiative for Ag Exports after seeing success after an investment in the last budget. “With countries like New Zealand, Tanzania, European countries, Asian countries, to try and do a lot of pork and meat exports, some additional crop exports, but on the dairy side, we’ve seen a lot of success because dairy I think was just kind of ready to take on some export increases.”

Mugnaini says beyond the budget bill, he’s hopeful bills supporting a 150-million-dollar investment in local roads, the wild parsnip control bill and the ag equipment lemon law bill also move forward.

5-19-23 Jason Mugnaini with Wisconsin Farm Bureau discusses the Wisconsin state budget proposal and what’s in it for agriculture with Brownfield’s Larry Lee

Here are the highlights of the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee budget as it pertains to agriculture.

Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection

  • An additional $800,000 per year for meat processor grants.
  • An additional $300,000 per year for grants to dairy processors.
  • $2 million for the Wisconsin Agricultural Export Promotion program
  • Farmer mental health funding of $100,000 per year.
  • $2 million for nitrogen optimization pilot program grants.
  • $70,000 per year for livestock premises registration.
  • An additional $50,000 per year for Wisconsin Agriculture in the Classroom Program.
  • Provided $1.6 million for cover crop rebates.
  • Maintain funding for producer-led watershed protection grants.

Department of Natural Resources

  • $500,000 in 2024-25 for water well compensation and well abandonment grants.
  • $6.5 million for rural nonpoint source water pollution abatement grants.
  • An additional $200,000 per year for Targeted Runoff Management grants.

What others are saying:

John Umhoefer, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association Executive Director says, “Innovation and export engagement are critical to the long-term stability and success of Wisconsin’s dairy farming and processing community. Our thanks go to lawmakers who have championed targeted investments in Wisconsin’s signature industry.”

Chad Zuleger, Dairy Business Association’s Government Affairs Director says, “The association appreciates the Joint Committee on Finance for recognizing the important work our dairy farmers do day in and day out to drive a $46 billion part of the state’s economy while at the same time developing innovative solutions to environmental challenges. The agriculture leaders in the Legislature, Sen. Ballweg and Rep. Kurtz, especially deserve thanks for prioritizing the interests of the farming community. DBA sees more opportunities for support — especially related to water quality — and will continue to advocate for bold action alongside our partners. The goal is to have water that is clean and farms that are resilient, and Wisconsin needs to keep moving forward with that purpose.”

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