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Walker Touts Importance of Ag in 'State of State' Speech
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 01/25/2018

After addressing farmers at the annual Ag Day at the Capitol in Madison on Wednesday, Governor Scott Walker announced new initiatives to bolster the state's farm sector and then stressed to lawmakers in his State of the State Address that agriculture is a vital part of Wisconsin's economy. The governor's annual speech to the legislature noted that agriculture's economic impact went from $59.2 billion in 2007 to $88 billion just 10 years later.

"Wisconsin is number one in cheese, cranberries, and ginseng. We are one of the top states for milk, corn, soybeans, beef, apples, cherries, potatoes, and vegetables," Walker touted to members of the Assembly and Senate. "Lower property and agriculture taxes, science-based and predictable regulations, limits on frivolous lawsuits and expanded export opportunities will help our family farmers continue to grow in 2018 and beyond."

In an effort to help boost the struggling dairy industry, the governor touched on his proposed 'Family Farm Fund'--which provides scholarships to encourage students to take advantage of agriculture-related studies at a Wisconsin technical college or the various University of Wisconsin campuses.

"Our plan would also help farmers deal with the costs of ensuring that their farming practices preserve clean water in rural areas," Walker said. "We also recognize that farmers are facing challenges with low commodity prices. That's why, earlier today, I signed an Executive Order that expands resources for farmers to reach new markets across the country and around the world."

He also stressed the importance of high speed Internet, stating that $41.5 million has been allocated in the current state budget to boost the connectivity for schools and residents in rural areas.

Walker took another opportunity to boast about the state's drop in property and income taxes since taking office. He claims that the taxes on a median-valued home are estimated to be more than $100 lower in 2018 than they were in 2010.

"If the previous trend had continued from before I took office, the estimated property tax bills on a typical home would be $612 higher than they are this year," he said.

And the governor said he hopes lawmakers will help draft policies to help rural schools keep more money in the classroom. He had been proposing in recent months a plan that will increase Sparsity Aid to help low-revenue school districts provide better educational resources.

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