State Budget Panel Votes to Maintain Ag Programs
Members of the legislature’s finance panel are continuing to make progress on their draft of the 2015-17 biennial state budget. This week, the Joint Finance Committee took action on several agricultural provisions within the spending package, such as spending $250,000 annually for a farmer-led watershed initiative. As part of the program, grant recipients would receive at least 50 percent funding to address non-point source pollution by implementing best management practices.
The JFC budget maintains funding for the Fertilizer Research Council at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for allocating certain fees for fertilizer research projects within the University of Wisconsin System. The governor’s budget proposed to eliminate the FRC and reduce the corresponding fees by 27 cents, according to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau.
The panel also voted to continue the Livestock Premise Registration Program at DATCP, another item Governor Walker wanted to trim in his budget. County conservation staff would get an extra $675,000 each year as part of the budget, rather than a reduction in funding.
And the JFC approved transferring $1 million annually from the DATCP’s Agricultural Chemical Cleanup Program to the DNR’s non-point account to help pay, in part, nonpoint staff at DNR and DATCP, as well as county conservation staff, cost share funding for farmers, and other nonpoint activities.
Last month, the committee voted against Governor Walker’s proposed budget provision that would transform the boards of the natural resources and agriculture departments into advisory councils.