Who says nothing ever gets done at the Capitol? That was definitely not the case on Jan. 24 in Madison.
About 400 people from the state’s agricultural community were in town as a part of Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s annual Ag Day at the Capitol event to hear about key policy issues and to meet with legislators and their staffs about those issues.
Before all of that geared up, Gov. Scott Walker joined the group at the Monona Terrace to talk about his plans for strengthening rural communities, including agriculture. From there, he went on to give his State of the State address to the Legislature.
As part of Gov. Walker’s rural agenda, he announced a $50 million dollar-a-year Rural Economic Development Fund to stimulate investment in rural communities as well as another new Family Farm Fund to encourage students to take advantage of the state’s technical colleges or University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture to jumpstart careers.
Walker also announced his intention to add $500,000 yearly to the Producer-Led Watershed Grant Program managed by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. He also signed an executive order to direct DATCP to use loan revenue to encourage new dairy product development to increase domestic and international demand.
During a review of issues affecting farms and rural communities, I had the pleasure of presenting an overview of the proposed transfer of Wisconsin’s concentrated animal feeding operation program from the Department of Natural Resources to DATCP. Taylor Fritsch from Michael Best partnered with me on the presentation.
Farm Bureau staff also covered the recent high-capacity well legislation, wetland bills before the Legislature, proposed NR 151 targeted manure performance standards for eastern Wisconsin, and a variety of other initiatives that are in the works or being considered at the Capitol.
Armed with the latest information, participants headed to the Capitol to make their voices heard with elected officials. Afterward, DBA hosted a Dairy Debrief Reception where we enjoyed good food and conversations about the day’s experience and the pressing issues facing our dairy community.
All in all, Ag Day at the Capitol was a great experience. The event provided an important opportunity for dairy farmers around the state to come learn about the issues and engage state lawmakers.
Hopefully, you will be able to join us next year for Ag Day at the Capitol.