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2019-2020 Legislative Priorities
Provide opportunities for nutrient-trading to grow
Create driver’s card for non-citizens
Fund next-generation dairy research
Address long-term transportation funding
2019-2020 Budget PrioritiesSupport 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 dairy research. The areas of focus for the new researchers will include the development of innovative new 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 $7.9 million per year to fund this in the budget they send to the governor.
Support Wisconsin Initiative for Dairy Exports – DATCP is seeking $200,000 to help promote dairy exports from Wisconsin. This will help continue the highly successful reverse trade missions that were started by the department. The goal is to drive dairy exports up from 15% to 20% of our milk supply. Boosting our access to new markets is one of the best things we can do to boost milk prices. This was in Governor Evers’ 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 cannot continue to borrow to pay for our roads at existing rates. We understand that a good solution will include some new revenue for roads. The governor’s transportation plan is a good start, although we know the final plan will be a compromise and will look different. We want a proposal that will take care of funding needs for years to come and recognizes the importance of rural roads to our state’s economy.
Oppose CAFO fee increase – Governor 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. It is a letdown to farmers, environmental activists and many with the DNR. 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. They allow farmers to learn from one another about new practices that can improve soil health and reduce the possibility of runoff. They also provide us with a local, real-world laboratory to try out innovative new ideas at the watershed level. Governor Evers recommended increasing funding for these programs in his budget. We support continuing to fund and grow these worthwhile initiatives across the state.
Support driver’s card for non-citizens – DBA has long supported allowing immigrant workers to be allowed to drive legally provided they are properly trained and insured. From our perspective, this a public safety and economic development issue. Governor Evers included a provision to allow that in his budget proposal. His proposal might not be included in the budget that will be passed by the Legislature. We appreciate his support on this issue and we will continue to work on the issue outside of the budget process too.
Support dairy processor grants – Governor Evers proposed doubling the amount of money we spend each year on dairy processor grants to $400,000. These grants will help processing plants to grow, innovate and improve. This is one small way to invest in the future of dairy processing in Wisconsin. It is also another way to promote product innovation and the opening of potential new markets. We continue to think these grants are a good idea and the increased funding will allow DATCP to help more processors move forward with future plans.
Support adequate funding for the non-point program – The state’s non-point program sets the baseline standards for farms when it comes to nutrient management. The program has never been properly funded. More funding for this program promotes the fair application of rules for all farms. It should also help to address water quality concerns in some parts of the state. Every two years the budget contains money for county land and water staff and money to help farmers pay for conservation practices. We want to see these programs get a boost in funding to bring them closer to meeting the actual need for this type of assistance.
Support the current version of the Manufacturing and Ag Tax Credit – Governor Evers has proposed capping the Manufacturing and Ag Tax Credit. We want to keep the tax credit program the way it is to provide maximum benefit to those who rely on it. Farmers and cheesemakers throughout Wisconsin use this tax credit. It is important for both groups in helping them cash flow during challenging economic times. Even though most of the users of this credit are not farms, farmers still benefit indirectly when their processor gets the credit and is more fiscally sound.