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Gov. Evers Hoping to Announce Ag Assistance Details Next Week
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 04/29/2020

Wisconsin farmers and others in the agricultural industry could know as soon as next week if they will be receiving any direct assistance from the state to make up for losses attributed to the Coronavirus pandemic. That's what Governor Tony Evers told members of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin on Tuesday's edition of the Dairy Signal.

During the hour-long webcast, the governor explained that Wisconsin is receiving about $2 billion is federal funds from the recently passed CARES Act and that his staff is currently working on how to distribute those dollars appropriately.

"Part of it will initially go to Milwaukee County and Dane County, so what's left is around $1.9 billion," Gov. Evers explained. "We received various requests and agriculture was part of that. We're finalizing that within the next week and believe that we can be helpful in that arena."

Last week, a group of Wisconsin farm organizations asked the governor for up to $50 million in direct cash relief for state farmers who are suffering from financial setbacks due to the stay at home orders that were prompted by the virus.

Evers was also hopeful that research dollars would continue to be available for the University of Wisconsin Dairy Innovation Hub.

When asked if he thought the state would be opened in time for World Dairy Expo this fall, the governor said he was optimistic.

"By then, we hope to have schools back in session and in a better place across the board. As for keeping World Dairy Expo as scheduled, my hope would be yes."

Interim Agriculture Secretary Randy Romanski was also part of the presentation. He reminded the online audience that the responsibility of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture is to make sure the grocery store shelves are stocked and that the supply chain is functioning.

"There is a great deal of stress and anxiety in Wisconsin agriculture right now," Romanski admitted. "But we are grateful that the industry is continuing to work so hard despite the challenges COVID-19 has brought. Having high quality food during a time when so many are struggling is critically important."

Both the secretary and governor say they hope Wisconsin's economy could eventually go back to normal, but stressed that it would be more like turning a dial than flipping a switch.

"The bottom line is we have to minimize the transmission of this disease," Evers noted. "I'm not sure that we're going to see 40,000 people in Miller Park real soon. But our goal is to open slowly and do whatever we can to get to a much better place. Regardless, it's going to look different than it did before."

Meanwhile, a viewer asked the governor if he plans to elevate Romanski from interim secretary to being an official cabinet member. Evers smiled and said a decision would be finalized in a couple of weeks.

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