Farm, cows, red barn

Midwest farmland

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s new state budget will include millions more for farmers across the state, including more than $6 million for clean water projects.

The budget writing Joint Finance Committee last week added $16 million to the being-written state spending plan.

“We made meaningful investments in several agriculture programs that have moved the needle for our ag community.  We invested in Ag in the Classroom, Meat Processor Grants, Dairy Processor Grants, Producer-led Watershed Grants and Agricultural Export initiatives,” JFC co-chair Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said Friday.

The additions include:

  • An additional $800,000 per-year for meat processor grants.
  • An additional $300,000 per-year for grants to dairy processors.
  • $2 million for the Wisconsin Agricultural Export Promotion program.
  • Farmer mental health funding of $100,000 per year.
  • $2 million for nitrogen optimization pilot program grants.
  • $70,000 per year for livestock premises registration.
  • An additional $50,000 per-year for Wisconsin Agriculture in the Classroom Program.
  • $1.6 million for cover crop rebates.
  • Maintain funding for producer-led watershed protection grants.

Those watershed protections will also see $6.5 million from the Department of Natural Resources.

“[The Dairy Business Association]  sees more opportunities for support — especially related to water quality — and will continue to advocate for bold action alongside our partners,” DBA government affairs director Chad Zuleger said. “The goal is to have water that is clean and farms that are resilient, and Wisconsin needs to keep moving forward with that purpose.”

The DBA, which is one of Wisconsin’s largest business groups, says the investments recognize the “work our dairy farmers do day in and day out to drive a $46 billion part of the state’s economy while at the same time developing innovative solutions to environmental challenges.”

The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association says the grant money will help dairy farmers in the state find new markets for their best-in-the nation cheese.

“Innovation and export engagement are critical to the long-term stability and success of Wisconsin’s dairy farming and processing community,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA Executive Director. “Our thanks go to lawmakers who have championed targeted investments in Wisconsin’s signature industry.”