U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Provisions to Boost Wisconsin Agriculture and Rural Communities Moves Forward

“Now is the time for Republicans to answer the call for bipartisan budget negotiations”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committees, today applauded the inclusion of several of her provisions in the bipartisan FY16 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill. Senator Baldwin sits on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, which is responsible for deciding how the federal government spends money on strengthening American farming, spurring rural development, maintaining food safety, and more.

“I was proud to include several priorities in this legislation that work in part to boost Wisconsin farming, rural development, and our Grown in Wisconsin economy. Our strong agricultural sector is a driver of economic growth, and I will continue to prioritize investments in our rural communities that create opportunities for new family farmers to carry on the Wisconsin tradition,” said Senator Baldwin. “Now is the time for Republicans to answer the call for bipartisan budget negotiations so that investments in our agriculture economy and rural communities are fully funded, not shortchanged.”

Senator Baldwin’s priorities included in the FY16 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies are as follows:

Agriculture Economy

  • Restores research funding that trains students for agriculture workforce. The bill restores funding for Capacity Building Grants for Non-Land-Grant Colleges of Agriculture.  This important funding stream supports undergraduate agriculture research that pairs promising students with professors at Non-Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture—Wisconsin has three: UW Platteville, UW River Falls, and UW Stevens Point—to find solutions to address critical agriculture research questions.  Many of these students go on to roles with agribusiness companies or future agriculture research—and this program helps them get the training they need to help meet workforce needs in an industry that is expected to have more than 130,000 position vacancies between now and 2020. 
  • Provides $750,000 to advance cranberry research in Wisconsin.  This funding will help existing researchers in Madison to expand their trials and conduct more intensive field research on cranberry marshes in order to improve disease and pest management and increase the efficiency of water use in cranberry production, which will help to advance the industry’s sustainability.  Wisconsin produces more than 60% of the nation’s cranberries, and this research will be conducted in conjunction with research funding from the industry.

Water Quality

  • Invests in land conservation by providing technical assistance to farmers that protect their watershed and prevent soil erosion.  The bill includes strong funding for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, which works with farmers to address manure management, install buffer strips to reduce soil erosion, and rotate plantings to protect soil quality.  This funding is a critical tool for the agriculture industry as farmers work to reduce phosphorous run-off into lakes and rivers. 
  • Advances research investments improving dairy systems to address water quality impacts. Includes funding for the Dairy Forage Research Center, based in Madison, for their research to improve efficiencies in dairy production that can reduce the impact of dairy farms on the environment.  This research was developed in consultation with the dairy industry, and will help find solutions to the increasing pressures famers face related to phosphorous runoff and manure management.

Health Care in Rural Communities

  • Increases funding for the Rural Community Facilities program.  This program makes a high quality of life possible in our rural communities.  In Wisconsin, it has been used to build assisted living facilities that allow aging parents to live close to the farm once they need daily care.  These facilities are more than just improvements to care—they are investments in the future of our towns, and they affirm the promise that rural Americans should have the highest levels of care, where they live, in their communities. 

Working Lands Research

  •  Research investments. The bill continues key investments in research that benefits every corner of Wisconsin agriculture.  From funding our Cooperative Extension agents that work with farmers across the state, to investing in agriculture research at UW-Madison’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, this bill ensures that Wisconsin’s farmers can continue to improve agriculture efficiencies and pioneer new techniques as stewards of our working lands.