Talking Agriculture at the State Capitol
One of my jobs as a state Representative is to meet with different groups advocating for their positions. The term "interest group" can often get a bad rap and invoke thoughts of giant unions or corporations strong arming their views on members of the legislature. But the truth is interest groups come in all sizes, and being allowed to express their views to their elected officials is the cornerstone of our great democracy.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting with some Racine and Kenosha County farmers who came to the Capitol for their annual Agriculture Day to update their elected officials on the issues most important to them.
These farmers were concerned about many different state-level issues. Below is a list of the major points they made when they were here:
Use Value Assessment - Farmers who have large acreage in Wisconsin where property taxes are extremely high depend on the use value assessment to stay profitable. They wanted to make their opposition known to a Senate budget provision (that was eventually removed) that would have excluded land zoned or platted from being eligible for use value assessment. Some farmers reported passage of this provision would have cost them hundreds of thousands in additional property tax costs.
Animal Welfare - Other states have undergone ballot initiatives driven by animal rights groups that propose more restrictive livestock regulations. Farmers contend that Wisconsin's animal care regulations are perfectly fine and meticulously followed, and that nothing should be done to further restrict animal care or husbandry regulations.
Governor's Global Warming Bill - As I've mentioned in a previous eupdate, the Governor's Global Warming bill has numerous proposals that will have a tremendous impact on families and businesses all over the state if it passes. The farmers I met with on Ag Day are opposed because of stipulations on new construction, emissions limitations for medium duty vehicles, and a crop reserve program to be administered by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. They also expressed extreme concern for increased energy costs and believe that this issue should be tackled at the national level.
Attendees of Ag Day also expressed concern for farmland preservation zoning legislation, the right to sell raw milk, and watershed nutrient management standards currently being proposed in rule-form by the Department of Natural Resources.
Though many people think of southeastern Wisconsin being more of an urban center than an agricultural hub, we still have many famers who contribute a great deal to the economy. It's important that their concerns are balanced along side other interest groups in southeastern Wisconsin. I was happy to meet with them, as I am to meet with any group from Racine County who has concerns about legislation at the state level.
State Representative Robin Vos State Capitol - Room 321 East - Post Office Box 8953 - Madison, Wisconsin 53708 Phone: (608) 266-9171 - Toll Free: (888) 534-0063 - Fax (608) 282-3663 Email: Rep.Vos@legis.wisconsin.gov On the Internet: Representative Vos' Web Site