By Mike Leischner
MADISON, WI (WSAU) — A bill creating a state grant program for the repair and upkeep of agricultural roads co-sponsored by Portage County Representative Katrina Shankland is heading to Governor Evers’ desk.
The bill creates a fund that will be used to reimburse communities for projects such as culvert replacement or bridge repair on roads used by producers. “I’ve heard from many farmers that one of the greatest hurdles in getting their products to market is just the roads right outside of their farm. That’s because the infrastructure in rural Wisconsin can often be antiquated or deteriorated.”
She says so much of the focus on fixing Wisconsin’s roads has been on major highways, so it’s important to make sure that lesser-traveled roads don’t get lost in the shuffle. “Agricultural roads are often less invested in. [So] when the Governor signs this into law we will have a program that prioritizes them.
“Supporting our farmers and getting those goods to market doesn’t just benefit rural Wisconsin. It benefits the whole state. Our ag economy is one of the greatest industries,” added Shankland.
According to Shankland, the bill’s definition of agricultural roads closely aligns with the federal definition. This means that the majority of Wisconsin’s county highways and other rural roads, which serve as crucial connections between producers and their markets, are encompassed.
Senate Bill 247 passed both chambers by a wide margin and has the support of many special interest groups. Shankland expects that it will be signed by Governor Evers.