Wisconsin State Budget

Most of us are ready to put the chaos and uncertainty of 2020 behind us. A global pandemic, economic crisis, and heated election will long remain in our memory, and we will surely feel the impacts of the tumultuous past year in 2021 and beyond. This is especially true with regards to the state budget. As we face competing priorities, it is critical for the rural people of Wisconsin and the organizations who represent them to voice support for the issues that matter most to family farmers and rural communities. The Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) budget priorities are based on policy adopted by WFU members at our convention and on the unforeseen challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 WFU 2021-2023 Budget Priorities

 

  •  Expand BadgerCare 

    • Accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars available through the Affordable Care Act to raise BadgerCare income eligibility limit to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. 

  • Expand Rural Broadband Access 

    • Maintain funding for Broadband Expansion grants at a level of $24 million per year. 

    • Direct federal COVID-19 relief funds to expanding broadband access in rural counties. 

  • Develop Small Meat Processing Infrastructure 

    • Provide grants to new meat processors and existing small plants to fund facility upgrades, cutting equipment, and cold storage to increase processing capacity, upgrade inspection level, and meet the needs of small and medium livestock producers. 

    • Fund additional state meat inspectors as needed to accommodate growth in processing infrastructure. 

    •  Direct federal COVID-19 relief funds to expanding meat processing infrastructure. 

  • Support for Clean Water and Conservation 

    • Fully fund County Land and Conservation staffing grants at $12.4 million per year. These county employees help farmers adopt best management practices and install soil and water conservation practices on their farms. 

    •  Increase Department of Natural Resources funding for CAFO regulations. 

    • Add $300,000 per year for CAFO monitoring and oversight. 

    • Increase CAFO permitting fees to defray the cost of additional monitoring. 

    • Add one Full-Time Employee (FTE) at the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey to update groundwater maps. WGNHS has a high level of expertise, but groundwater studies have a long turnaround time due to lack of staff. 

    • Increase funding for Producer-led Watershed Grants to $1,000,000 per year. This program promotes peer-to-peer learning and spurs increased adoption of on-farm conservation practices such as cover cropping, no-till planting, and managed grazing. 

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