Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association

Call to Action – Teaching Directive / Funding for Potato Research

New Legislation Supports Wisconsin Potato Research
By Jordan Lamb, DeWitt LLP

Support for UW State Specialists – AB 556 / SB 497

State Representative Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) and State Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) have introduced legislation that will help applied agricultural researchers who are UW-Madison, UW-River Falls and UW-Platteville faculty with joint Extension appointments get “credit” for the hours they spend teaching farmers and graduate students.

Since 1993, the number of state integrated specialists has fallen by 45%. As a result, we have fewer agricultural research projects aimed at addressing some of the most pressing questions facing Wisconsin farmers today, including water quality, pest management and farm economics.

In addition to conducting research projects, these researchers teach farmers at association-sponsored summer and winter meetings, hold on-farm mini clinics, field days, and workshops and provide other daily direct instruction to Wisconsin farmers. Their value to the agricultural economy as teachers is well-documented, but their work teaching farmers unfortunately, cannot be used to satisfy the statutory “teaching hours” reporting and monitoring obligations required under current law for UW-Madison and UW-System faculty.

AB 556 / SB 497 requires the Board of Regents’ to recognize as “teaching hours,” the time spent by state specialists who provide extension services in the field of applied agricultural research at UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls or the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, teaching graduate students and teaching Wisconsin farmers. This legislation will help Wisconsin farmers retain our invaluable UW faculty researchers and will allow them to continue to support Wisconsin’s farm economy.

Rep. VanderMeer and Sen. Testin Author Legislation to Fund Potato Research

Rep. Nancy VanderMeer (R-Tomah) and Senator Patrick Testin (R-Steves Point) have authored LRB 4597, which would provide $500,000 to the Potato Industry Board to be used for potato research.

Agricultural productivity, and its enormous economic impact are tied to solid agricultural research. Our state’s potato and vegetable farmers rely on the new technologies and practices developed by researchers to improve water quality, pest management, and farming practices throughout the state. Unfortunately, funding for applied agricultural research has been steadily declining since 1993, and vacant positions have had a direct negative effect on potato growers and vegetable producers. Farmers, who are already facing a challenging economy, have had their work exacerbated by this decline.

LRB 4597/1 seeks to reverse that trend to give Wisconsin agriculture, our farmers, and conservation efforts a boost. This proposal requires the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to provide $500,000 in funding to the potato marketing board for the purpose of funding vital research. The applied research investment will provide practical and applicable utility to potato and vegetable growers and will help sustain this important industry in our state, by supplementing the private investments in research provided by the farmers.

For more information on potato research projects that are supported by the farmers, go to: https://wisconsinpotatoes.com/growing/research/

GROWER CALL TO ACTION

AB 556 / SB 497, support for UW state specialists, and LRB 4597, funding for potato research, are important pieces of legislation for Wisconsin potato growers. Legislators need to hear from you and know that these bills are important to your businesses.

Please take a moment to call or email your State Representative and your State Senator and ask them to SUPPORT AB 556/SB 497 (Loudenbeck/Marklein) and LRB 4597 (VanderMeer/Testin).

Click here and enter your voting address in the “Who Are My Legislators?” tab to easily connect to the contact information for your State Representative and State Senator.

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Volume 14, Issue 48 | December 2, 2022

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