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Over 10,000 farms have applied for relief through the WI Farm Support program

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer
Randy Romanski is the Governor’s new appointee as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Secretary-designee for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said over 10,000 farms have applied to the WI Farm Support program, which opened up for applications last week.

Farms who made $35,000 to $5 million in gross income based on 2019 tax returns are eligible to apply for $1,000 to $3,500 in one-time payments, based on an income-driven sliding scale.

Applications are open until 11:59 pm Monday, June 29. The application can be found by going to the Department of Revenue's website, or if you need assistance filling the application, you can call 608-266-2772. Spanish and Hmong speakers can also call that number for assistance.

"The Department of Revenue is the application source, and they have made this application quick and seamless," Romanski said during a Dairy Signal episode Tuesday, June 23. "Very easy to fill out, 10 to 15 minutes is what we're hearing from a lot of farmers."

Romanski said farmers are applying early, and he is urging those who haven't yet applied to do so before the deadline. He also said the process is not first come, first serve; everyone who applies, regardless of when, will be eligible, as long as they meet the deadline Monday.

Romanski said the $50 million being devoted to this program will be divided up by the total number of applicants, so the Department of Revenue won't know how much the average payout will be until after all applications have been received.

The US Department of Agriculture is also working on rolling out new programs for farmers at the federal level, and Romanski said he is trying to get Wisconsin farmers more involved in those programs.

While he said there have been many applications for aid from programs like the Agricultural Marketing Service's Farmers to Families Food Box Program, he said "Wisconsin is not as well represented in that program as one would expect."

"I spoke with the USDA administrator about a week and a half ago and (he) indicated that there will be additional funding and additional opportunities to get programs out the door," Romanski said.

Farmers should expect to see more contracting opportunities with the USDA in July, Romanski said.

He also wanted to remind farmers that the US international trade agreement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, will take effect July 1. He said Wisconsin's ag industry relationships with international trading partners are still important and crucial to the success of our economy, especially markets in Asia and Europe.

"We're taking every opportunity to work with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to help companies find ways to maintain and build momentum through e-commerce, social media and virtual trade shows," Romanski said. "As we see more countries open their economies back up, it's important for Wisconsin to continue to have that relationship in existing markets and develop new markets."