The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee took the following actions today regarding the state’s 2015-17 biennial budget.
Producer-Led Watershed Grants
Wisconsin farmers continue to address nonpoint source pollution by implementing best management practices such as; nutrient management planning, establishment of cover crops, changing tillage practices, etc. Wisconsin’s nonpoint source prevention programs are currently implemented locally through county land conservation departments. The governor’s 2015-17 state budget initiative would allow farmers to voluntarily work together to create locally-led watershed projects and implement conservation practices that will ultimately improve water quality.
The Joint Finance Committee approved $250,000 annually for a farmer-led watershed initiative. Grant recipients much provide at least 50 percent of project funds and the maximum grant amount was set at $20,000.
WFBF supported creation of a farmer-led watershed grant program.
Fertilizer Research Fees and the Fertilizer Research Council
The Fertilizer Research Council (FRC) is currently attached to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and is responsible for allocating certain fees for fertilizer research projects within the UW System. The governor’s budget proposed to eliminate the FRC and reduce the corresponding fees by 27 cents. The Joint Finance Committee maintained the Fertilizer Research Council and its funding.
WFBF supported continuing the Fertilizer Research Council.
When the Livestock Premise Registration Law was enacted in 2005, DATCP was allocated both funding and a staffing position for the program. The intent of the law was for DATCP to contract with an outside entity, the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium (WLIC), to administer the program. The staffing position was allocated to DATCP in the event the relationship between DATCP and WLIC failed.
The governor proposed to eliminate the livestock premise staffing position at DATCP, resulting in reduced funding for the program by $66,200 in General Purpose Revenue (GPR) annually. The funding allocated for a staffing position is part of the cost of running the livestock premise registration at WLIC and is instrumental in making the program work effectively. This is critically evident in Wisconsin’s current fight against avian influenza.
The Joint Finance Committee voted to maintain funding for the Livestock Premise Registration Program.
WFBF supported maintaining funding for the Livestock Premise Registration Program.
County Conservation Staff Funding
The 2013-15 state budget had funding for county conservation staff totaling $8.8 million. The governor proposed to reduce county conservation staff funding by $815,900 annually.
The Joint Finance Committee voted to increase funding for county conservation staff by $675,000 in each year of the budget.
WFBF supported increased funding for county conservation staff.
Agricultural Chemical Cleanup Program (ACCP) Funding
The governor’s budget proposed taking $1 million annually from DATCP’s segregated Agricultural Chemical Cleanup Program (ACCP) fund to transfer it to the Department of Natural Resource’s nonpoint account, which is used to help pay, in part, nonpoint staff at DNR, nonpoint staff at DATCP, county conservation staff, cost share funding for farmers to implement best management practices, and other nonpoint activities.
The Joint Finance Committee approved transferring $1 million annually from the DATCP’s ACCP fund to DNR’s nonpoint account.
WFBF opposed this transfer.