MADISON (WKOW)--After Gov. Jim Doyle signed a new state budget into law Monday, ahead of the deadline, the Wisconsin Farmers Union issued the following reaction to what the budget means to the state's agriculture industry:
Wisconsin Farmers Union President Sue Beitlich said she was glad the legislature came to a consensus on the budget.
Wisconsin Farmers Union members advocated for the following priorities:
· Full funding for the Working Lands Initiative including the Assembly's amendments to the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements.
· Restoration of funding and transferal of oversight of the Clean Sweep Restoration program to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection from the Department of Natural Resources.
· Removal of slaughter fees and funding of the Animal Health and Meat Processing Inspection Staff through general revenues.
· Increasing the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit fees for concentrated animal feeding operations from $250 to $1,200 and implementing an annual fee of $345 with an option to set a sliding scale fee based on animal units.
· Eliminating the oil franchise fee.
· Remove the use-value tax provision that would have limited agricultural use-value assessments only to farmland zoned as agricultural.
· Remove any liability reform measures from the budget.
Beitlich said she was pleased to see many of WFU's priorities were included in the budget including funding for the Clean Sweep program and the Working Lands Initiative, and removal of the use-value tax provision and liability reform measures.
"It was good to see that our legislators could come to a compromise while preserving and funding important agricultural programs," Beitlich said. "Thank you to all the great Farmers Union members who worked to make sure lawmakers heard our wishes."
WFU was disappointed that the legislature chose to raise the WPDES permit fees by a mere $95.
"Some WPDES permits have cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff time. This continues to be a burden on our state and our taxpayers. WFU is dissatisfied with the minor increase in the fees," Beitlich said.
Beitlich said she was also pleased that funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would be used for agriculture and renewable energy and the state continued to invest in the BadgerCare Plus program.
"Investment that creates new jobs and helps working families is the best way to jumpstart our state's economy