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Obey Seeks Millions for Agricultural Earmarks in Federal Budget
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 04/07/2009

Wisconsin Congressman Dave Obey has published his list of proposed spending items for the 2010 federal budget, including earmarks for 89 projects within the state. As chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Obey holds the purse strings of nearly all of the government's spending projects.

The Wausau Democrat says he is seeking $333 million for various programs ranging from helping local villages implement better sewage treatment plans to controlling fish diseases in the Great Lakes.

The number of requests submitted by localities to Obey's office grew significantly over the previous year's total because of the recession, according to a statement accompanying the list of projects.

"However, recognizing the budget realities, only a small percentage of projects being laid on the table for consideration will actually receive funding," the statement said.

The following budget items relate to Wisconsin agriculture in Obey's report:

** Animal Identification/Premises Registration - $2,000,000: These funds would help the State and a consortium of 55 livestock industry groups and businesses continue to develop the national model for a 48-hour traceback program which will preserve animal health and protect consumers in the event of a food-related disease outbreak through identification, isolation and containment of the disease at its source and through the distribution process.

** Cereal Crops Research Unit at UW Madison - $1,402,000: This request represents a $500,000 increase in funding for the ARS Cereal Crops Research Unit located in Madison, Wisconsin which conducts research on wheat, barley, and oat crops to assist farmers in producing heartier crops and stimulates rural economies through improved yields.

** Chronic Wasting Disease Management - $1,023,660: These funds would help the State continue to manage and contain the problem by encouraging herd owners to microchip animals for individual identification, help pay for sampling and disposal of infected animals, and containment.

** Cranberry Research Program Buildings and Facilities - $7,000,000: The 2008 Farm Bill includes authorization for research grants to study new technologies to assist cranberry growers in complying with federal and state environmental regulations, increase production, develop growing techniques, establish more efficient growing methodologies, and educate cranberry growers about sustainable growth practices. The requested funding would pay for the purchase of 80 acres of existing cranberry bogs in Wisconsin and construction and renovation of cranberry research facilities.

** Cranberry Research Program Salaries and Expenses - $3,000,000: The 2008 Farm Bill includes authorization for research grants to study new technologies to assist cranberry growers in complying with federal and state environmental regulations, increase production, develop growing techniques, establish more efficient growing methodologies, and educate cranberry growers about sustainable growth practices. The requested funding would pay salaries and expenses for research and support staff.

** Dairy Market Development/Value Added Dairy Initiative - $2,000,000: This funding would support the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture's Value Added Dairy Initiative which started in 2004 to help restore and reinvigorate Wisconsin's transitioning dairy sector through modernization of dairy farms, increased production of higher-value products, increased recognition of Wisconsin's dairy products in consumer markets, enhanced supply chain management and innovative dairy industry partnerships.

** Emerald Ash Borer Survey & Detection - $2,060,000: Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in two counties in Wisconsin during the summer of 2008. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture continues to survey and prepare for additional detections in the State. Early detection of Emerald Ash Borer infestations provides the opportunity to implement the widest range of control and management options, including tree removal, outreach and public communication, preparation for post-detection management and control, interagency coordination and cooperation with municipalitiesí regulatory activities to limit the spread. The requested funding would help pay the cost of staffing, trapping, surveys and outreach.

** Emerald Ash Borer Wood Utilization - $2,200,000: Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in two counties in Wisconsin during the summer of 2008. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture continues to survey and prepare for additional detections in the state. State agencies are working to manage the declining ash resource and utilize the wood in a way that limits the spread of the disease while maximizing the economic return. The current practice in many states is to fell the trees and chip the wood with a very low economic return compared to other options such as using the wood for biofuel, high-end compost, railroad ties, and lumber. The purpose of the project is to develop and use the most effective technology to manage and reduce the populations of Emerald Ash Borers and maximize utilization of ash resources.

** Johne's Disease Management - $1,630,000: This funding would help the State develop and implement Johne's Disease control strategies, a debilitating disease in cattle, similar to Crohn's disease in humans.

** Potato Pest Management - $400,000: These funds would help promote the development and adoption of biointensive integrated pest management practices to reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides, enhance habitat quality, develop marketplace incentives for ecologically-produced potatoes and maintain economically viable farming operations in the fragile central sands region of Northern Wisconsin.

** Rural Renewable Energy Research & Education Center - $3,300,000: Funding would support a research project at the UW-Agriculture Research Station to create energy from farm and dairy processing waste and reduce greenhouse gases. In a partnership with Mullins Cheese, a respected local dairy, the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce, the University of Wisconsin Marshfield Agricultural Research Station, Mid-State Technical College, Northcentral Technical College, the purpose will be to create a renewable energy source (methane) from farm and cheese processing waste and develop a small-scale affordable digester for small 100-500 head dairy herds.

** UW-Extension Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility - $498,575: These funds would support an extension education and outreach program located on the Red Cliff Lake Superior Chippewa Indian Reservation and administered by the UW-Stevens Point which seeks to address the needs of fish farmers and hatcheries in Wisconsin and other northern states where cold climates create unique challenges and opportunities.

** UWSP Institute for Sustainable Technology - $1,400,000: These funds would complete the establishment of the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology (WIST). Specializing in applied science research and development, WIST will provide state-of-the-art education to students in industrial sciences, engineering and natural resources; help develop and apply sustainable technology solutions to real-world problems with research focused on paper science and nanotechnology, biomass, biofuels and bio-refineries, soil and water resources, air and water resources - helping benefit the environment, enhance energy production and stimulate state and regional economies.

** UW-Stout Pilot Technology Transfer - $250,000: These funds would help the Northwest Manufacturing Outreach Center/UW Stout technology transfer program continue to enhance the ability of small manufacturing businesses to make use of changes in technology in order to improve efficiency. With a proven track record, Northwest Manufacturing Outreach Center has served more than 1,000 small and medium sized manufacturers in northern and central Wisconsin, created or retained 2,600 jobs, and generated a total sales impact for these companies of more than $100 million, with a more than 200-1 return on investments.

** Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) Management - $588,000: VHS, is a highly contagious disease of freshwater and saltwater fish which causes variable clinical signs including external and internal hemorrhaging and substantial mortality. Fishery experts fear that unchecked it could wreak havoc with the Great Lakes fishery and the $4.5 billion commercial and recreational fishing industry that it supports. These funds would support staffing and equipment needed for VHS testing and data analysis to monitor and contain the spread of the disease.

** Wisconsin Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative - $950,000: This funding would help support cooperative agreements with WGLCI to promote profitability and conservation through technical assistance, education and research to expand the use of grazing-based livestock production in Wisconsin. A national leader in management intensive grazing, Wisconsin has benefitted from more successful farming operations and increased conservation practices.

Congress is now on its Easter recess. Lawmakers will be taking up the 2010 budget bill later in the spring.

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