Capitol Is Quiet; Lawmakers Talking Policy In-District

Even though the state Legislature is not in session, lawmakers are still at work reviewing the playbook from the previous year and getting the game plan together for the next time they meet.

Representative Travis Tranel, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, says he wants to continue the Agricultural Road Improvement Program in the next state budget. He says it’s been a popular program so far, receiving a lot of traction.

In June 2023, Wisconsin established ARIP as part of the 2023-2025 biennium budget to improve highways functionally classified as local roads that provide access to agricultural lands or facilities. ARIP provides a one-time funding of $150 million to ​enhance rural roads, bridges, and culverts in Wisconsin’s rural communities.​ The first round of grant applications were due to the Department of Transportation by April 5.

“They had over 500 applications… they were projecting that with just the first round of applications the dollar amount requested could be well over $1 billion,” he says. “The conversations we’re having now are: let’s try to get this into the next state budget.”

While ARIP has been a success story, rules around foreign ownership of agricultural land did not come to fruition. Tranel says the committee will revisit this topic in the next Legislative session.

“There were two competing bills, and there was some issue with how some of the language works that people were afraid we would box out businesses… and countries that we are friendly with,” he says. “I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to come to an agreement.”

The next session begins in 2025. Right now, lawmakers are in-district talking with constituents and doing committee work. Tranel reminds farmers to take time to speak up on issues that are important to them.