When I signed up for Farm Bureau 5 years ago, I just wanted to compete in the Young Farmer and Agriculturist Discussion Meet. I had a fondness of speaking contests from my time in FFA and was eager to get involved. After the district level contest, we were given a critique as a group that consisted of mentioning sponsors and that Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization.
As my involvement started to run as deep as grass roots, my curiosity for policy development led me to policy development meetings, which branched into my first Ag Day at the Capitol in 2017. What an experience. Meeting with my elected officials to discuss issues that are important to me at the Wisconsin Capitol was amazing so I said, “Sign me up again next year!”.
This year’s Ag Day at the Capitol was even better. This year, I got to sit in and listen to the State of the State Address given by Governor Walker after he signed an executive order. This executive order expands resources for Wisconsin farmers to access markets across the country and world. The State of the State experience was inspiring, enlightening and nostalgic for different reasons. The marble columns and gallery seating in the Assembly Chambers of Capitol building gave me a feeling of historic significance imagining what others in these seats might have witnessed. Watching a quorum be called, attendance and seeing the parade of the State Justices and Senators as they found seats to watch speech was enlightening. The inspiration can be sourced back to Governor Walker’s main message, “We are getting positive things done for the people of Wisconsin.”
The State of the State Address carried a lot of hope for me and rural Wisconsin. Agriculture has an $88 billion impact on Wisconsin and rural Wisconsin sees that. To hear what proposals are coming down the turnpike such as increasing scarcity aid to our rural schools; increasing the rural broadband budget; and prioritizing local, city and town roads in the transportation budget. The most exciting proposal to me was the $50 million Rural Economic Plan. This proposal has scholarship money for young people who want to take over a family farm and additional funding for small farms to incorporate conservation practices that help to maintain water quality. Knowing that our voices are being heard and our efforts are being seen adds clout to the opportunities that Farm Bureau has offered me. An opportunity like this would not have happened if it was not for going to that first district discussion meet. I’d say this State of State Address is not only getting positive things done for people of Wisconsin, but it’s getting positive things done for the farmers and agriculturalists of Wisconsin.
Julie is a farm and production management instructor at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College where she works with farmers to get on the latest technology and methods for improving farm longevity. She is a graduate of UW-River Falls and a Barron County Farm Bureau member. In her free time, she likes to read, take videos and pictures of her son, ride bike and seek adventure.