Jim Holte, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President issued the following statement regarding Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal.
“There are a number of provisions within Governor Walker’s budget proposal that impact Wisconsin’s farm families and an $88 billion agricultural economy.
Farm Bureau supports Governor Walker’s recommendations to address water quality through non-point pollution initiatives and changes to the Stewardship conservation land-purchasing program. Farm Bureau members have long supported policies to reduce the Stewardship program’s scope.
At the onset of the budget-crafting process, there are more questions than answers about how agriculture’s priorities will fare in overall changes to the University of Wisconsin System.
We will examine impacts to agricultural research both at the UW’s network of agricultural research stations and the innovative on-farm work by the UW Discovery Farms program. Transfers of authority of our state’s Veterinary Diagnostics Lab and the Veterinary Examination Board to DATCP both deserve attention. Overall access to agricultural curriculum across the UW System and the elimination of the Fertilizer Research Council must also be discussed.
The farm community remains concerned about Wisconsin’s transportation infrastructure. Agriculture relies on Wisconsin’s diverse network of roadways, ports and freight rails. Farm Bureau is especially sensitive to the needs of town governments in the areas of local road aids and bridge funding. Wisconsin needs to invest in its local roads. However we question increasing the level of our state’s debt service for transportation projects, without seeking new sources of revenue.
Farm Bureau wishes to maintain the current authority that citizen boards have at Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Just as Farm Bureau’s policy is driven by its members, the farmers who serve on citizen boards should retain their direct regulatory rulemaking authority, rather than serving in an advisory role.
Farm Bureau’s members and staff look forward to working with state legislators as they deliberate our state’s 2015-17 biennial budget.”