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Small farm legislation urges diversification

Posted at 11 a.m. on September 4, 2019

The Brillion News

MADISON – A bipartisan group of legislators introduced the “Our Farms, Our Future” package of legislation.

The three bills are aimed at strengthening opportunities for Wisconsin farmers at every stage of their careers: from beginning farmers launching a career in farming, to new and established farmers looking to innovate and diversify their operations, and to retiring farmers who are passing on their operation to the next generation.

Rep. Dave Considine, D-Baraboo, introduced a bill with Rep. Bob Kulp, R-Stratford, Rep. Deb Kolste, D-Janesville, and Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, related to farm succession planning.

“As members of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, we hear about the very real barriers that Wisconsin farmers face,” Considine said. “I also know from personal experience about some of these barriers, such as farm succession planning. Since farming looks different today than it used to, passing down the family farm is no longer as simple as it once was. This bill will create two new positions in the University of Wisconsin System to help farmers create succession plans that fit their individual situations.”

Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, introduced legislation with Rep. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc, Rep. Deb Kolste, D-Janesville, and Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, aimed at mitigating student debt owed by beginning farmers. “This bill addresses that need by awarding grants to qualified beginning farmers to pay down their student debt,” Spreitzer said.

“Wisconsin is blessed with an abundance of well-educated, energetic people who want to start new farming operations or grow their existing farms,” Vruwink said. “While cows, corn, and cranberries will remain a cornerstone of our agricultural economy, we have a tremendous opportunity to diversify. The Small Farm Diversity grant will spur innovation and grow our ag economy. It is a competitive grant where the best and brightest proposals will rise to the top.”

All three bills are seeking more co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.



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