GOP Lawmakers Release Details of Plan to Support Wisconsin Farmers

Assembly Republicans have released a plan focused on helping Wisconsin farmers that they say will take a “bigger and bolder” approach than the governor’s special session on agriculture.

The package includes amendments to two bills brought forward by Evers for the special session.

One would create a new initiative to increase Wisconsin dairy exports to 20 percent of the nation’s milk supply by 2024. While Evers proposed creating the program under the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Assembly Republicans want DATCP to create a partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and change the focus to include exports of meat products and crop products. The lawmakers also proposed increasing the program’s funding to $5 million instead of the $1 million proposed by Evers.

Assembly Republicans also introduced four new bills, including one that would create a tax credit to offset property taxes on farm buildings and improvements.

Kurtz said the measure would be an immediate benefit to farmers struggling after five years of low commodity prices.  “If they’ve got a milk parlor or, like I have grain bins on my farm, you know, those are taxed at a certain rate. And so we can get that reduced to like an ag-based or an ag value tax and get that money right back into the farmer’s hands,” Kurtz said.

Another proposed bill would let self-employed individuals deduct the cost of health insurance from their income tax.

The package also includes two bills aimed at the University of Wisconsin System. One would require the UW System to study the current problems facing farmers and evaluate how the university is helping support farmers through curriculum and staffing of agricultural programs. The other bill would require the UW System to develop an agricultural science and technology program.