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In the News: Staff Columns

You can shape the state budget!

Thursday, April 4, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: John Holevoet, director of government affairs
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The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee oversees the writing of the state budget. This important group of lawmakers is now taking its show on the road as they work through their process. NOW is your opportunity to share your experiences and to talk about budget priorities that matter to the dairy community.

DBA has engaged on several issues with lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers. However, it is your interaction with legislators and sharing of personal experiences that will make the biggest impact. Here is a helpful guide to testifying at legislative hearings, which will help you prepare.

If possible, please join DBA staff at one of these meetings to share your concerns, opinions and ideas as well as DBA’s budget priorities (farther below):

Janesville: Friday, April 5 (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Pontiac Convention Center
2809 North Pontiac Drive
Janesville, WI

River Falls: Monday, April 15 (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
UW-River Falls
University Center-Riverview Ballroom #260
500 Wild Rose Avenue
(Free Public Parking at PAY LOT 1 on North Second Street)
River Falls

Green Bay: Wednesday, April 24 (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
UW-Green Bay
University Union – Phoenix Rooms
2430 Campus Court
Green Bay

Please let us know if you plan to attend any of these meetings. We would also welcome any questions you might have.

If you do go to testify, you will have a limited amount of time to speak. You should pick a couple of topics you are most passionate about. Here is a partial list of DBA’s budget priorities to help guide your comments:

  • Support Dairy Innovation Hub – This is an investment in dairy research at UW-Madison, UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls. It will enable Wisconsin to remain a global leader in this field. The areas of focus for new researchers will include the development of innovative dairy products and how we can better safeguard water quality. This wasn’t included in the UW System budget, so we want JFC to include $7.6 million per year to fund this.
  • Support Wisconsin initiative for dairy exports – DATCP is seeking $200,000 to help promote dairy exports from Wisconsin. The goal is to drive dairy exports up from 15 to 20 percent of our milk supply. Boosting our access to new markets is one of the best things we can do to boost milk prices. This is in Gov. Evers's proposed budget and we want it in the final bill too.
  • Support increased road funding – We need a long-term fix to our state’s transportation funding needs. We understand that a good solution will include some new revenue. The governor’s transportation plan is a good starting point, although we know the final plan will look different. We just want a proposal that will take care of funding needs for years to come and remembers the importance of rural roads to our state’s economy.
  • Oppose CAFO fee increase – Gov. Evers included a proposal to significantly increase the fees paid by CAFOs during the permitting process. We oppose this increase. Nobody is happy with the CAFO program. Adding funding or a few more staff members to a program that really needs a complete overhaul is not a solution. We can talk about how to better fund and staff the program, but that should be part of an effort to improve the program from the ground up.
  • Support farmer-led conservation initiatives – DBA has supported these farmer-led groups since the start. They are one of the best things we can do for water quality in the state and offset counterproductive regulations. The groups allow farmers to learn from one another about new practices that can improve soil health and reduce the possibility of runoff. We support continuing to fund and grow these worthwhile initiatives.
  • Support driver’s card for non-citizens – DBA has long supported allowing immigrant workers to drive legally if they are properly trained and insured. From our perspective, this a public safety and economic development issue. Gov. Evers included a provision to allow that in his budget proposal. We understand this is unlikely to remain in the budget, but we will continue to work on this issue outside of the budget process.

Thank you.

John Holevoet
Director of government affairs

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