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This week, the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) met to take up funding requests from agencies, also know as 13.10 requests. On the agenda we had requests included funding proposals from the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the Department of Corrections (DOC), and Department of Health Services (DHS), and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Yet, noticeably absent from our schedule was a request from the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP).

DATCP had sent a request to the members of JFC to supplement the department's farmer mental health assistance appropriation. They requested $200,000 in order to provide assistance to farmers and farm families, because they only had enough available funding left to help 5 farmers. During budget deliberations, JFC specifically put money aside for this program, and Republicans decided to postpone the funding, in order to study the program further within a separate suicide prevention task force.

I am highly disappointing by the Republicans' decision to turn their backs on small family farmers. I am disappointing because we have the funding to do both. We have the ability to integrate farmer mental health assistance programs into the task force, while moving forward with helping farmers through the programs now. 

Farmers are struggling in Wisconsin, and giving them access to mental health care is the least that we can do. This is not, and should not, be a partisan issue. This should be an issue that we work across the aisle, swiftly and immediately, to address.

 

 


Jon Erpenbach
Wisconsin State Senate, District 27

 

 

Updates

Resources from the DNR: 

Recent storm events have caused severe damage in many areas of the state.  In response to these events, the Department of Natural Resources has launched a number of webpages to provide information and resources to municipalities, businesses and property owners to aid cleanup efforts.

 

Contents

  • Updates

  • Community Programs and Announcements

  • In the News 
 
CONNECT WITH US:

Phone: 608.266.6670

Email: sen.erpenbach@legis.state.wi.us

Address: P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707

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Note From Senator Erpenbach: 
Small Farms Deserve Better than GOP Procrastination

 

 

Small family farms are struggling in our state, and it is essential that we fund programs that will help them get through these tough times. JFC opted to not take up DATCP's request to fund farmer mental health assistance programs, choosing instead to study farmer mental health within a separate and ongoing suicide prevention task force.

However, our state can afford to do both. We can afford to continue to run in-demand programs to help farmers, while coming up with recommendations and solutions for these critical problems.

Since January 2010, our state has experienced a 40% reduction in dairy farms, with the largest loss taking place last year. Meanwhile, the services, that Republicans are now choosing to not fund, have seen an increase in participation for people who are seeking help in counseling, including for suicide prevention.

During budget deliberations, Republicans put $100.9 million for vital programs into a pot that only a few select politicians control, instead of giving agencies those dollars to put them to use, and today it is clear that they did that strategically, so that they can claim that they funded proposals, without any accountability on following through.

DATCP only has enough funding available to provide FIVE counseling vouchers to farmers in need. In other words our state is only willing to help five more farmers who are asking for help during an economic crisis. Republicans have the money in their slush fund, but are playing politics instead of saving lives.

With mounting evidence of the perils from falling markets and unfair competition from behemoth CAFO’s, it’s time for Wisconsin to step up for the small family farms that helped build our state. Providing access to mental health is frankly the least that we can do, and it is asinine that Republicans are turning their back on the industry.

Farmers need help now. Not when it is convenient for Republicans.

As Democrats continue to fight for this funding, please make sure that you are reaching out to your friends and neighbors in the farming community. Mental health is an issue that affects every single person in Wisconsin, and it is important that we are moving with urgency to help families get access to the services they need.

 


 

Community Programs and Announcements 

Update from the DATCP: Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grant Applications Available for 2020

Wisconsin farmer-led groups can apply for 2020 Producer-Led Watershed Protection grants through Friday, Aug. 16.

DATCP will award grants to producer-led groups that focus on ways to prevent and reduce runoff from farm fields and farmsteads. Each group is eligible for up to $40,000 a year. Applicants must find or contribute matching funds at least equal to the grant request.

The grants are intended to help farmers find solutions best suited for their particular watersheds, based on topography, soil type, types of operations and other factors that differ among regions of the state and work to increase farmer participation in these voluntary efforts.

Application materials are available HERE. Applications will be accepted only via email in Microsoft Word format. The application deadline is Friday, Aug. 16. Farmers with questions should contact Rachel Rushmann, rachel.rushmann@wi.gov, (608) 224-4622.



Update from the DNR:

- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is partnering with the Minnesota DNR in a public awareness campaign urging boaters to be aware of the risks and problems caused by excessive boat wakes.  Driven by a growing number of calls and complaints about excessive wakes, both states launched an educational effort urging people to "Own Your Wake - for everyone's sake” to spread the word about the importance of minimizing wakes that might pose a nuisance or hazard to others.

 

- Public comment is being sought on two proposed administrative code revisions aimed at assessing the overall health of lakes and streams in Wisconsin.  A public hearing for both rules is scheduled for Thursday, September 12th, and the comment period will run through September 20th.

 

- Sturgeon spearers have until August 1st to apply for a 2020 Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing license or purchase a preference point to be used in future drawings.

   

 

 In the News

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