Gov. Doyle: Governor Signs Animal Premises ID Bill to Track, Contain Animal Disease Outbreaks
Jessica Erickson, Governor's Office, 608-261-2156
Doyle Also Signs Five Other Bills, Including a Measure to Preserve Farmland and Relieve the Tax Burden on Farmers
VERONA - At a bill signing ceremony at AgSource Cooperative Services in Verona today, Governor Jim Doyle signed into law six bills, including legislation that creates the nation's first livestock premises identification system. Known as the "Animal Premises Registration Bill," Assembly Bill 812 establishes an identification system essential for animal health officials to track and contain animal disease outbreaks.
"Wisconsin is already a national leader in developing a premises registration system," Governor Doyle said. "Long before mad cow disease was first discovered in Washington State, we began taking steps to strengthen our food and agriculture supplies. Today, I am pleased to sign legislation that will help us build on our efforts to ensure that Wisconsin has the safest food supply in the world."
Specifically, AB 812 requires all locations where livestock are housed or co-mingled in the state to register their premises with the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP). The Department will then issue a unique premises number to each location, and maintain that number and required information in a database.
"Premises registration does not promise the elimination of livestock diseases. But should there be a disease outbreak, it lays the foundation for rapid response," Governor Doyle said. "Through early surveillance, identification, and confinement of problem areas, we are able to better manage risk - both financial risk to all producers and, even more important, health risk to the food supply."
About five years ago - long before terms like "terrorism" and "BSE" had become household words - a small group of livestock industry leaders began the development of a voluntary animal identification program. Thanks to assistance from a state agricultural development grant - and federal money received through the leadership of Senator Kohl and Congressman Obey, a premises registration program was made operative last October. Today, the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium boasts 50 organizations and individuals as members.
"The value of the work being done in Wisconsin is very apparent," Governor Doyle said. "Our Consortium has become the model for the nation, and so far this year, 30 states have contacted us to learn about the structure of our program."
Governor Doyle thanked the bill's lead authors - Representatives Barbara Gronemus and Al Ott and Senators Dale Schultz and Julie Lassa. He also thanked Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen and his staff for their work on the bill, and the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium for its foresight in working on the idea and positioning Wisconsin as a national leader.
The Governor also signed legislation today that will preserve Wisconsin farmland and help reduce property taxes for farmers. Assembly Bill 650 targets important tax relief to farmers by allowing additional woodland on farms to be assessed at 50 percent of its value.
"This is an important step to keep this land in its most appropriate use," Governor Doyle said. "It also strengthens our overall farmland use value law and the effort to make Wisconsin farms competitive with neighboring states."
The Governor thanked the bill's lead authors - Representatives Steve Kestell and Barbara Gronemus and Senator Sheila Harsdorf.
AB 812 and AB 650 are just one of many initiatives within the Governor's "Grow Wisconsin" plan to strengthen Wisconsin agriculture. Other successful measures include: providing dairy farmers with a tax credit to help them modernize; laying the foundation to lower healthcare costs for farm families; strengthening the agricultural producer security program; and launching an online marketplace to promote Wisconsin products worldwide.
Governor Doyle also signed the following bills:
* Assembly Bill 437, authored by Representatives Gabe Loeffelholz and Barbara Gronemus and Senators Neal Kedzie and Roger Breske, gives towns a new economic development tool by providing them with the authority to use tax incremental financing for certain agricultural, forestry, manufacturing, and tourism projects.
* * Assembly 485, authored by Representatives Dan Meyer and Bob Turner and Senator Bob Welch, pays a claim of $17,568.12 to Mullins Cheese, Inc. for whey cream that was inadvertently destroyed by the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection.
* * Assembly Bill 608, authored by Representatives Sheryl Albers and Terese Berceau and Senator Cathy Stepp, encourages greater compliance with Wisconsin's Smart Growth law by clarifying and simplifying the law.
* * Assembly Bill 695, authored by Representatives DuWayne Johnsrud and Barbara Gronemus and Senator Dale Schultz, reduces the administrative requirements for the transport of livestock, promoting agribusiness in Wisconsin.