State Budget Supports Dairy

The Dairy Business Association (DBA), Wisconsin’s leading dairy advocacy group, praised state lawmakers today for building a biennial budget that received bipartisan support and included programs for farmers, dairy processors and conservation efforts.

The Legislature completed its work on the budget on Wednesday when the Senate approved the
$87 billion spending bill. The Assembly had approved it on Tuesday. In all, seven Democrats joined the Republican majorities in support of the plan, which now goes to Gov. Tony Evers for his consideration.

Gov. Evers had submitted his budget to the Legislature in February. DBA applauded his efforts to boost farm exports and grants for processors, resources to connect farmers with food banks, and funding for farmer-led watershed protection efforts.

“The spending plan moves Wisconsin’s dairy community forward in ways that would help ensure our farmers and processors are economically sustainable while at the same time supporting their innovative efforts to protect and improve water quality in the state,” DBA President Amy Penterman, a farmer in northwestern Wisconsin, said. “It’s encouraging to see the careful consideration these issues have received from the Legislature and governor. We should all recognize the importance of a strong agricultural community.”

The Legislature’s budget continues funding for the Dairy Innovation Hub as it enters its second year of research on three University of Wisconsin campuses at Madison, Platteville and River Falls. The bill also establishes an agricultural exports program, increases funding for the Well Compensation Grant Program, increases funding for farmer-led water quality initiatives and boosts support for county conservation department staffing.

Penterman also recognized the work of members of the state’s budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance who traveled the state in April gathering input from residents. DBA members were well represented at the public hearings, both in person and virtually.

Penterman stressed that there is more work to do, including fully supporting clean-water initiatives. DBA is partnering with two environmental groups and a statewide county conservation association on a blueprint for budget-related water quality programs. Also, she said her group looks forward to discussions on legislative priorities that include CAFO program reforms, addressing workforce concerns of the farming community, and protecting dairy farmers’ investments and customers through a package of truth-in-food labeling bills.