COLUMNISTS

This holiday season, there are positive steps forward for agriculture

Randy Romanski

Happy Holidays! This holiday season we can reflect on some positive developments from this year, including a fall harvest that went well for most farmers. In most regions of the state, the weather was favorable and crop yields were average to above average. Many commodity prices have also been more favorable this year. There is hope that trade agreements being put in place and some markets opening up will help move Wisconsin products to international destinations.

Randy Romanski

This was a welcome reprieve, as farmers and all Wisconsinites have had another challenging year. COVID-19 has continued to impact the supply chain and community health this year, and some of these disruptions are unfortunately expected to continue. It will take all of us to get past this, and we must all do our part in order to get through this and bounce back better than before.

Amid the challenges the pandemic has continued to bring, Governor Evers also provided some positive steps forward as he made some substantial investments in the agriculture industry. These investments include his 2021-23 biennial budget, which funded farmer mental health programming, doubled the dairy processor grant program to better meet existing industry demand, and created the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports to solidify our commitment to increasing Wisconsin’s exports. In this budget, Governor Evers also established the meat processor grant program and provided four additional meat inspector positions to strengthen Wisconsin’s meat supply chain. Another positive development to celebrate is that these investments received bi-partisan support in the legislature.

Each of these investments will support our agriculture industry and continue to strengthen our rural communities, but those weren’t the only steps forward this year. Governor Evers also directed $100 million in federal funding to the Farm Support Program to help farmers respond to the economic challenges presented by COVID-19, and $30 million to the Food Security Initiative to connect food insecure households with Wisconsin producers and processors.

These are just a few of the positive steps forward for the agriculture industry in 2021. Heading into the New Year, I look forward to ongoing partnership with our stakeholders and legislators. From implementing new export initiatives, to providing grants to the industry, to educating while we regulate, our DATCP team will continue to serve as a resource to the industry. Governor Evers has consistently led on agriculture, and I know there are more issues we can work together to resolve in 2022.

Romanski is the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection