Wisconsin Farm Bureau: Delegates set policy for 2012

Contact: Paul Zimmerman, Executive Director of Governmental Relations, 608.828.5708

Casey Langan, Executive Director of Public Relations, 608.828.5711

WISCONSIN DELLS – From recall elections to raw milk, delegates at the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s 92nd Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells established a wide array of new policy directives for the organization.

Farm Bureau delegates adopted the policies that will guide the legislative agenda for the state’s largest general farm organization over the next year. Resolutions were submitted by farmers from across the state through Farm Bureau’s grassroots policy development process.

Two high-profile state issues, recall elections and raw milk were addressed. Delegates supported changing state election laws to only allow recall elections in cases of criminal activity or willful neglect of duty. They also went on record opposing the sale of raw milk directly to consumers and eliminated previous policy language that allowed for ill-defined ‘incidental sales’ of raw milk to consumers.

Delegates also called for the sweeping changes to two state programs, including the complete elimination of the Department of Natural Resources’ land-purchasing Stewardship program. They also seek a phase out of the Agricultural Chemical Clean-up program at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, but specified that approved, existing clean-up sites should be completed, but no additional sites should be entered into the program.

Other items delegates support include:
* County sheriffs and state troopers have animal handling training.
* Expanded cellular and broad band telecommunication coverage for rural areas.
* State pesticide and herbicide registrations and regulations not exceeding federal standards.
* DATCP serving as the sole entity to provide the health assessment for livestock siting operations.
* Requiring a two-thirds majority vote by county boards to approve any bonding authority for new county projects.
* Repeal of the minimum markup law as it relates to gasoline and diesel fuel.
* Having equitable representation from each county on the consolidated Farm Service Agency boards if county FSA offices are closed.
* Distributing more funding to the Wisconsin Fertilizer Research Fund, but maintaining the current tonnage fee on fertilizer.

Farm Bureau delegates oppose the implementation of fees on farmers to pay for the state’s livestock premise registration program. They also want to see legislation proposed regarding non-metallic mining. Specifically, the recovery of financial losses from nuisance lawsuits that seek to halt the development of non-metallic mining for frac-sand.

A number of successful resolutions sought changes within the state DNR. Delegates supported eliminating all funding for predator animal re-introduction projects. They wish to eliminate the $10,000 cap that farmers can receive as part of the Wildlife Damage Abatement and Claims program, and reduce the time it takes to get a bear hunting license or issue more damage abatement shooting permits. Delegates also support less control by the DNR when it comes to proposed road construction projects.

Wisconsin leads the nation in dairy goats. Delegates support establishing separate milk quality regulations for dairy goats than dairy cows, and any goat milk or curd that needs to be imported into the United States should meet those quality standards.

Wisconsin delegates also approved resolutions pertaining to federal policy. These resolutions will be forwarded to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which hosts its Annual Meeting and resolutions session next month in Honolulu, Hawaii. There delegates from across the country will vote on whether or not to adopt these resolutions from Wisconsin. They include:
* Oppose any government regulations that conflict with parents using their judgment in regards to the participation of their children on farming operations.
* Support delisting wolves from the endangered species list.
* Encourage school districts to offer students the choice of white and flavored milk.

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization representing farmers of all sizes and all commodities. The Farm Bureau’s 2012 policy will be posted on its website, wfbf.com, at the end of the year.