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Just half of Wisconsin farmers apply for state aid

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer

With $50 million in state aid up for grabs, just 56 percent of eligible Wisconsin farms applied for $50 million in direct payments earmarked in the Wisconsin Farm Support Program.

Of the 26,000 plus farms eligible for Wisconsin Farm Support programs, only 14,543 applications were submitted.

Unveiled by Gov. Tony Evers in late May, the program was crafted to provide direct payments to Wisconsin farmers in support of the agricultural industry during the COVID-19 pandemic

Farms across all sectors of the agriculture industry were invited to apply for assistance between June 15-30. Farms that made $35,000 to $5 million in gross income based on 2019 tax returns were eligible to apply for $1,000 to $3,500 in one-time payments.

Wisconsin Ag Secretary Designee Randy Romanski told members of the media that the Department of Revenue received 14,543 applications during the two-week window.

"The Department of Revenue is reviewing all the applications for eligibility and expects to complete the process and begin distributing checks in mid-July" he said.

Although the program works on a sliding scale, with those on the lower end of the income spectrum receiving less than those on the higher end, reporters asked Romanski with just over half of eligible farms applying for aid, would the entire $50 million be distributed - providing enough funds for each eligible farmer to be paid around $3,400.

"We need to give the Department of Revenue time to figure out how many applications are complete and eligible, which will then determine how those dollars are distributed," Romanski said, declining to speculate on whether the entire $50 million would be distributed in direct payments or other farm assistance programs.

"We hope to get those dollars out the door in mid-July," Romanski said.

In May, Evers pointed out that the direct aid was meant to aid farmers who are the foundation of our food system.

"Farmers also serve as the backbone of many of Wisconsin’s local rural economies, and these direct payments will help revitalize local economies and jump-start Wisconsin’s food supply chain, which has been significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Evers who previously met with ag stakeholders to ensure a fair, accessible distribution system for the aid payments.