WCA and Legislative Action
The Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association (WCA) is the voice of the Wisconsin Cattle Producer.
Through our legislative efforts in Madison, we continue to represent and protect the beef producer's best interests. We work closely with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to stay informed of national issues that will affect Wisconsin beef producers. Our membership and Board of Directors work daily to keep beef demand strong in Wisconsin and the country.
Investing in the WCA
We are excited to share our legislative key wins that reinforce the impact the Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association has on the industry. Please use these materials during membership conversations, producer meetings, events, and more. For printed copies of these materials, reach out to the Wisconsin Cattlemen's office at [email protected]
Wisconsin Legislative Update
Governor Evers Signs 2021-23 Biennial Budget Bill
On July 8, 2021, Governor Evers signed the 2021-23 biennial budget bill. The bill provides for approximately $88 billion in spending for the State of Wisconsin over the next two fiscal years. Interestingly, the bill received several Democratic votes in both the Assembly and the Senate making it the first time since 2007 that a budget bill has passed either house of the Legislature with bipartisan support.
Governor Evers employed his veto power to change over 50 provisions in the bill from the version delivered to him by the Republican legislature, but he preserved the legislature’s $2 billion income tax cut. The final budget also includes $129 million in broadband expansion and increases transportation spending by $357.3 million over current levels.
Key Budget Provisions for Wisconsin Farmers
The 2021-23 biennial budget bill contains several important provisions for Wisconsin farmers that our coalition worked hard to secure. We sincerely appreciate all of the time and attention that Governor Evers and legislative leaders, especially the members of the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), spent on farmer issues throughout this budget process.
- Funding for UW-Extension State Specialists: Wisconsin agriculture groups have worked for several sessions to secure additional funding for state specialist positions within the Division of Extension. The 2021-23 biennial budget bill includes $2 million over the biennium in funding directed toward UW-Madison Division of Extension specialist positions in the field of agricultural research.
- Meat Processing Facility Infrastructure Grants: $400,000 was provided over the biennium (200,000 annually) for meat processor infrastructure grants. (Gov. Evers had proposed $2 million over the biennium.)
- Additional State Meat Inspectors: Four (4) new meat inspector positions. The shortage of inspectors was identified by the DATCP as a critical limiting factor to increasing processing capacity in the State. ·
- Agricultural Export Support – PARTIAL VETO: The Legislature set aside $5 million over five years for DATCP and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to use to support agricultural exports. Under the Legislature’s plan, the funding could be released after DATCP and WEDC jointly submit a proposal to the JFC for allocating the funding to increase dairy, meat, poultry, fish, crop, and other agricultural product exports by 25 percent over their 2021 levels by 2026. The Governor vetoed the requirement that the agencies submit a proposal to the JFC and also vetoed part of the funding. As such, under the enacted budget bill, the new export program is funded with $558,000 annually. ·
- Farmer Mental Health: The budget provides $200,000 in one-time funds over the biennium for farmer mental health grants, which covers the costs of vouchers for services. ·
- Producer-led Watershed Grant Program: The budget increased the statutory cap on the annual producer-led watershed protection grant awards from $750,000 in each year to $1,000,000 in each year for fiscal years 2021-22 and 2022-23. We strongly support farmer-led conservation efforts, and DATCP’s Producer-led Watershed Protection Grant program is an example of a very successful farmer-led conservation initiative. ·
- Well Testing and Remediation: The bill includes $1.2 million in each year of the biennium for DNR’s well testing and remediation grant program for grants to assist rural well owners repair, upgrade or install filtration systems to improve their drinking water quality. This is part of a short-term strategy to help rural well owners address high nitrate levels and other contaminants in drinking water. ·
- Dairy Processor Grant Program: Provides $400,000 in each year of the biennium for the DATCP Dairy Processor Grant Program.
DNR Board Approves Fall Wolf Hunt Quota of 300
On August 11, the Department of Natural Resources Board approved a fall 2021 wolf hunt harvest quota of 300 animals. This is significantly higher than the DNR staff’s recommendation of a quota of 130 wolves. In February 2021, the Board allowed a spring wolf hunt with a quota of 200 and a total of 218 animals were ultimately harvested during that season. According to DNR data, the State has had 45 confirmed cases of livestock depredations by wolves and 16 wolf harassment reports to date in 2021. Another 32 wolf depredation cases are unconfirmed. Information on the fall 2021 wolf harvest season is available on the DNR’s website.
New Round of Farmer Support Cash Payments Coming Soon
On August 18, Governor Tony Evers announced that an additional $50 million in direct cash payments for Wisconsin farmers would be coming in a new round of the Wisconsin Farm Support Program this fall. This program was created during the summer of 2020 as a mechanism to distribute federal aid received by the State of Wisconsin. In 2020, the State distributed $50 million in direct aid, and this announcement earmarks an additional $50 million from funding the state received from the federal government to support Wisconsin’s farmers and agricultural industries. Under the 2020 allocation, each recipient received up to a $3,500 payment. The 2020 Farm Support Program funding was provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Under the forthcoming additional $50 million in the Farm Support Program, the DATCP will partner again with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue to administer the program. Applications will open later this year, after the fall harvest, to ensure sufficient time for farmers to learn about the program and to apply. The program will be modeled after the 2020 program, however, the 2021 program is funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Positions on the Issues
Learn more about the issues and where WCA stands in order to protect the best interests of the beef industry on state and national levels.
2021-23 Biennial Budget Summary
On July 8, 2021, Governor Evers signed the 2021-23 biennial budget bill. The bill provides for approximately $88 billion in spending for the State of Wisconsin over the next two fiscal years.
Have questions or comments about any of our Legislative Efforts?
Email Terry Quam or call 608-592-3649. We would love to hear from you!