Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes' farm plan calls for 'cracking down on Big Ag monopolies'

Bill Glauber
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes.

With the Democratic U.S. Senate race starting to kick into high gear, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes released an agriculture plan Thursday as he vowed to "empower small and mid-sized family farms and meat processors."

Barnes' "Grow Wisconsin Agenda" called for "cracking down on Big Ag monopolies" while also "addressing climate change to stop extreme weather events."

Other top Democrats have released rural plans ahead of the Aug. 9 primary. Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry vowed to bring more investment to rural areas, and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski pushed to make broadband a public utility.

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Barnes said he'll seek to reform how federal agricultural subsidies are distributed so that family farms are prioritized while backing the elimination of the estate tax on small family farms.

On labeling, Barnes said he supports the Dairy Pride Act, an initiative by Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and others to "combat the unfair practice of mislabeling non-dairy products using dairy names."

He also backed an effort to redefine "Product of the USA" standards to "prevent corporations that slaughter and process their meat abroad then package it in the U.S. from being able to mislead consumers."

Like others in the Democratic field, Barnes said he'll seek to expand access to health care, including greater access to telehealth. He also said people throughout the state should have access to high-speed internet.

On climate change, Barnes said he'll work to expand a USDA Rural Energy for America Program, while pushing to eliminate fossil fuel production subsidies.

Barnes also said he supports legislation to provide a path to citizenship for immigrants including farm workers that he said would help address labor shortages facing farms and small businesses.