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Baldwin Notches Wins for Wisconsin Farmers, Rural Communities, Water Infrastructure, and Tribes in Annual Funding Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, brought home funding to support Wisconsin farmers, rural communities, water infrastructure, and tribal nations in the government funding legislation signed into law earlier this month. 

“Wisconsin farmers are the beating heart of our rural communities, and I’ve worked alongside them to preserve generations of family farm operations by securing the resources they need to succeed. Whether it’s supporting Wisconsin dairy, investing in innovative agricultural research, or ensuring they have access to mental health resources, I am proud to bring home these funds to support our shared goal of a prosperous, resilient agricultural economy in Wisconsin,” said Senator Baldwin. “We’re also investing in our rural communities for the next generation – protecting our farmland from foreign investors, expanding high-speed internet, and creating economic opportunities. Wisconsin’s tribal nations are also seeing investments in housing, transportation, and native language programs that I was proud to support. Finally, water is essential to the Wisconsin way of life, and this bill continues to make down payments on the future of our clean water infrastructure – getting rid of dangerous chemicals, ensuring families have safe drinking water, and investing in the health and resilience of our lakes, rivers, and freshwater ecosystems that are essential to our Made in Wisconsin economy.”

Supporting Wisconsin Farmers

Expanding Farmer Mental Health Resources: $10 million for Senator Baldwin’s Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. The bill also requires that the federal government explore expanding Senator Baldwin’s 9-8-8, a national three-digit crisis line, to also include specialized mental health services for farmers.  

Dairy Business Innovation Initiative: $12 million for Senator Baldwin’s Dairy Business Innovation Initiative, a highly successful program that helps dairy farmers and processors add value to their businesses to insulate themselves from price fluctuations, diversify their products, and build resilience.

Investing in Agricultural Research: Senator Baldwin secured resources to help crops become more resilient to pests, disease, and climate change, including consistent funding for cranberry, cover crop, and dairy research.

Senator Baldwin brought home $250,000 for advancements in water conservation, pest control, disease reduction, and fruit quality improvements in cranberry production. She also secured $250,000 for research on building soil health, including cover crops, small grains, and grass-based perennial systems. The funding bill also includes $500,000 for enhancing the current effort to provide dairy farms in Wisconsin and throughout the country with cost-effective strategies for proactively reducing environmental impacts of their dairy production.

Delivering Direct Support for Agricultural Research in Wisconsin

Supporting Agricultural Research at UW-Madison: $1,000,000 for UW-Madison to improve agriculture research facilities.

“Federal funding allows the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to research questions that are important to Wisconsin farmers and all types of food businesses. We are very pleased to see additional funding for several important collaborations between our scientists and Wisconsin farmers, growers and food processors. This investment allows us to improve needed agricultural research infrastructure for facilities and collaborations,” said Glenda Gillaspy, Dean and Director at UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “Thanks to these funds, our Center for Dairy Research will be able to continue to partner with dairy processors to expand local businesses and introduce new dairy products to consumers and we will be able to expand the work of our Rural Partnership Institute, which supports collaborative research projects focused on health, climate resilience, tribal food systems and rural livability in Wisconsin communities.”

Investing in and Protecting Wisconsin’s Rural Communities

Protecting American Farmland: This legislation funds key provisions of Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan Farmland Security Act with $1 million for the Farm Production and Conservation Business Center to improve Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act reporting. The funding would require USDA to transition to an online filing system to improve the transparency of foreign ownership in American agricultural land, in line with Senator Baldwin’s legislation.

Taking on Challenges Rural Communities Face: $6 million for the Institute for Rural Partnership to continue addressing challenges facing rural America, including helping rural communities find resources and funding to create jobs, build infrastructure, and support long-term economic stability.

Expanding Broadband in Rural Communities: $90 million for USDA’s ReConnect program, which provides loans and grants for the cost of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.

Upgrading Critical Water Infrastructure

Protecting the Great Lakes and Mississippi River: The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a highly successful program that Senator Baldwin leads in the Senate, was funded at $368 million, including a boost for the Distinct Tribal Program to better engage Tribal governments and organizations in restoration efforts on the Great Lakes to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world.

Senator Baldwin worked to include $3 million for a Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study to develop a much-needed and first-of-its-kind comprehensive plan to improve coastline resilience, as well as provide tools to support informed decision-making along the Great Lakes shorelines.

Senator Baldwin also worked to include $55 million for the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) program. UMRR funding supports the Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project, which restores channels, creates and stabilizes river islands, controls side channel flows, and manages water levels.

Addressing PFAS in Rural Communities: Included in the Baldwin-backed bill was $8 million to prioritize new federal research that will help farmers, ranchers, and rural communities manage PFAS impacts in agricultural settings and communities.

U.S. Army Corps Projects in Wisconsin: This bill included funding for the following Army Corps of Engineers projects in Wisconsin: Ashland Harbor, Eau Galle River Lake, Fox River, Green Bay Harbor, Kewaunee Harbor, Manitowoc Harbor, Milwaukee Harbor, Sturgeon Bay Harbor and Lake Michigan Ship Canal, and Two Rivers Harbor.

Delivering Direct Support for Community-Driven Water Projects

Investing in Navigation and Conservation on the Upper Mississippi River: Senator Baldwin secured $120,000,000 in direct support for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) for the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway to improve the capacity and efficiency of the navigation system through updated lock and dam infrastructure. NESP also aims to restore and protect natural habitats through ecosystem restoration measures designed to ensure the sustainability of home to 25 percent of North America’s fish species and a globally important flyway to 40 percent of North America’s migratory waterfowl and shorebirds.

Senator Baldwin also delivered direct support for several different community-driven projects:

  • City of Hillsboro: $500,000 for water and sewer investigation and rehabilitation.
  • Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District: $3,000,000 for sewer infrastructure and reduction of overflow risks.
  • Town of Farmington: $350,000 for a wastewater lift station.
  • Village of Loganville: $750,000 for main street sewer and water upgrade during reconstruction of State Trunk Highway 23.
  • City of Elkhorn: $3,300,000 to install a water treatment system to address arsenic, radium, ammonia, iron and manganese contamination.
  • Village of Rothschild: $3,300,000 to remove PFAS from drinking water.

“The Village of Loganville is very grateful and thankful to Senator Baldwin and her team, for the funds that she worked hard to allocate for our water and sewer infrastructure project,” said Russ Lankey, Village of Loganville Board President.

“Like wastewater utilities across the country, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) has an ongoing program to rehabilitate our aging infrastructure. Senator Baldwin’s support for the MMSD Sewer Rehabilitation Program will allow MMSD to perform this work in a timely manner, ultimately helping to protect Lake Michigan,” said Kevin Shafer, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District

“Having these funds allocated for this project signifies a crucial step towards addressing critical infrastructure updates,” said Joshua Finch, City Administrator of Hillsboro. “This financial support allows us to dive further into properly assessing and addressing those needs within our community.”

City of Hillsboro Mayor Greg Kubarski added, “We are extremely grateful for this funding, it’s a great thing for Hillsboro.”

Supporting Wisconsin’s Tribal Nations

Expanding Native Housing: $1.34 billion in funding for Native housing programs, including the Native American Housing Block Grant Program to provide financial assistance for Native families to obtain new homes, make renovations, build community facilities, and receive housing services, including counseling, financial literacy and other critical resources to address housing disparities.

Improving Infrastructure: $175.5 million in new federal funding for tribal transportation activities and $25 million to supplement the Rural and Tribal Infrastructure Advancement Pilot Program to deliver financial, legal, technical, and project development assistance to improve tribal access to transportation infrastructure.

Delivering Direct Support for Wisconsin Tribes

Revitalizing Native Language: Through a community-driven request, Senator Baldwin secured $5,000,000 to help establish the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Institute (WOLI) Revitalization Center, a language revitalization center to house full-time pre-k to grade 12 Ojibwe immersion education in Hayward, Wisconsin.

“The support for this project will positively impact our community for generations to come, providing opportunities for Ojibwe language and lifeways to flourish,” said Lisa LaRonge, Executive Director, Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Institute. “We are honored to have been selected for funding, and look forward to enriching our community. Miigwech.”

Lac du Flambeau Tribe: Senator Baldwin also delivered direct support for the Lac Du Flambeau Tribe through the community-driven funding process by including $290,000 for equipment for the tribal fish hatchery in this year’s budget.

“Our lakes face intense pressure each fishing season because we have huge muskies, huge walleyes and a wide variety of desirable fish species,” said Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians Tribal President John D. Johnson, Sr. “This federal funding will help us continue our long history of supporting both on- and off-reservation lakes to ensure resources remain plentiful for our Tribal Members who depend on fish for survival, sport fishers who enjoy the outdoors, and local businesses that depend on fishing tourism and the regional economic impact fishing delivers.”