Austin Arndt

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.

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Legislative Update

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 

Legislature to Clarify Regulation of Aboveground Fuel Storage Tanks – Farm Tank Exemptions Preserved 

In July 2019, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection notified affected Local Program Operators that it would cease to regulate flammable and combustible liquid aboveground storage tanks that are less than 5,000 gallons on October 1, 2019.    

This change resulted from a discovered conflict between language in Wis. Admin. Code s. ATCP 93 and Wis. Stat. Chapter 168, which regulates aboveground storage tanks. Specifically, DATCP discovered that the rule that allowed for the regulation of flammable and combustible liquid aboveground storage tanks greater than 110 gallons (with certain exemptions), conflicted with the statute, which only permitted regulation of aboveground storage tanks of 5,000 gallons or greater. In its report to the Legislature, DATCP recommended a statutory change to align the rule with the statute and with current practices. However, the statute and rule also contained some very specific exemptions for farm tanks.   

DATCP has worked with legislative officials and affected industry members to address this conflict in our law throughout last session and this session. Legislation has been introduced (Assembly Bill 384 / Senate Bill 381) to grant DATCP regulatory authority over all aboveground storage tanks over 110 gallons.   

Wisconsin commodity groups initially opposed these bills and testified at the September 2021 public hearing that the bill should be amended to preserve the exemptions for farm tanks under 5,000 gallons. The authors and the DATCP agreed. Consequently, AA1 to AB 384 (and identical SA1 to SB 381) have been introduced and will preserve the regulatory exemption for all aboveground farm fuel storage tanks under 5,000 gallons. WCA and other commodity groups now support this legislation as amended.   

However, all farm tanks over 110 gallons will be required to register with DATCP. This is not a new requirement. This was required prior to 2019, as well. The notification requirement is meant to alert local fire departments that there is a fuel storage tank on the premises in the event of a fire. There is no fee or inspection requirement associated with this registration. (Note: Many local ordinances already require registration of aboveground fuel tanks with local fire districts.)    

Agricultural Water Quality Legislation Introduced

Senator Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Representative Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) have authored Senate Bill 667 / Assembly Bill 727 and Senate Bill 678 / Assembly Bill 728, which contain positive agricultural water quality initiatives for Wisconsin farmers. Wisconsin farmers want to be leaders in the development of improved water quality practices on farms. The programmatic changes and the new programs that are created in these bills will support farmer-led conservation efforts that we have seen develop across Wisconsin. WCA supports both SB 677 and 678 and urges the Legislature to pass these bills.   

Senate Bill 677. This bill creates a commercial nitrogen optimization pilot program to incentivize farmers to engage in new practices to reduce nitrogen on farms and share what they learn as a part of those projects with other farmers across Wisconsin. This legislation creates a two-year, $1 million per year pilot program to award grants of up to $50,000 to farmers for projects on their farm fields to optimize the use of commercial nitrogen. Similar to successful efforts in neighboring states, this legislation also creates a crop insurance premium rebate program where farmers not receiving funding from other state or federal programs may receive $5 per acre to help offset the costs to plant cover crops. This program is funded at $400,000 per year, beginning in the next fiscal year. The bill also funds a hydrogeologist position at UW-Extension. This position will continue to develop reliable soil depth to bedrock maps in Wisconsin so that cropping practices can be adjusted to meet the geology of particular regions and identify more areas that might be more susceptible to runoff.   

Senate Bill 678. This legislation makes several important programmatic changes to the DNR’s well compensation program that are necessary for increased eligibility for well compensation grants to address rural drinking water concerns. This program was funded in the 2021 biennial budget bill so that it can be utilized by rural well owners who have elevated contaminant levels in their drinking water wells. The bill also contains several programmatic changes to the producer-led watershed grant program and the county conservation grant program that are needed to further enhance the utilization of those programs.   

Revision to NR 151 - Groundwater Nitrate Targeted Performance Standard - Will Not Move Forward

On November 17, 2021, the Department of Natural Resources sent an email to the members of the NR 151 Technical Advisory Committee informing them that, “The statutory process and associated firm timelines established by the Legislature for rule-making do not allow adequate time for the department to complete this proposed rule.” The proposed revision to NR 151 was authorized to create a targeted performance standard for the application of nitrates/nitrogen to agricultural land in Wisconsin. The DNR would have to put forth a new Scope Statement and initiate a new rulemaking process if they choose to continue to develop this rule.

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.

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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. 

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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!