Farmers identify top concerns

Contributed Photo Beef farmer Ken Schmitt, of Colfax, speaks up during the policy discussion at the 88th annual Wisconsin Farmers Union State Convention.

Dairy price stability, groundwater testing and affordable health insurance are among key agricultural issues Wisconsin farmers want to discuss with legislators this year. These concerns and others were brought to the forefront by delegates at the 88th annual Wisconsin Farmers Union State Convention, which was held Jan. 25-27 in Appleton.

“Given the weak state of our farm economy, strong agricultural policies that ensure a future for family farming are more important than ever,” said Darin Von Ruden, president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

He praised the discussion and process at the convention, where delegates from across the state came together to identify and discuss the most pressing issues impacting Wisconsin farm families.

“The policy discussion at the annual state convention is the democratic process in its purest form,” Von Ruden said. “Farmers from a variety of backgrounds come together to respectfully discuss the issues impacting their farms and rural Wisconsin.”

The Wisconsin Farmers Union identified the following as some of its policy priorities for 2019:

• Dairy policy reform, to make price stability a top priority;

• Support for groundwater testing and mapping;

• Regulation of large livestock facilities and concentrated animal feeding operations;

• Enforcement of antitrust laws and dialogue about monopoly/antitrust concerns;

• Support for production, processing and marketing of industrial hemp;

• Support for a public BadgerCare option and/or more affordable health insurance;

• A comprehensive revision of Wisconsin’s eminent domain statutes;

• Stable trade practices for agricultural produce.

Those key points will be shared with Wisconsin legislators in Madison on Feb. 27, when farmers’ union members attend Farm and Rural Lobby Day. Wisconsin delegates will also bring these concerns to the National Farmers Union Convention in Washington state March 3-5.