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House Ag Spending Bill Includes Wisconsin Priorities
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 07/21/2009

Wisconsin Congressman Dave Obey says the 2010 funding bill for the Department of Agriculture includes vital investments in the nation's food system, rural economy and preservation of natural resources with additional help targeted to Wisconsin priorities. As chair of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, Obey says Congress is trying to respond to the many challenges that confront America, such as health care, climate change, financial system reform, as well as the needs of rural America.

"To improve the safety of our food and drugs, the bill includes additional help for the Food and Drug Administration, for the Food Safety Inspection Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable Americans aren't being neglected in these troubled times," Obey said. "This bill includes critical assistance for feeding programs for children and the elderly and for rural housing for low income families, the elderly and disabled."

The spending package also helps create new opportunities for hard-hit rural communities with substantial investments in broadband development to make sure that rural America has access to new communications technologies, in rural business programs helping create new jobs, in farm operating and ownership, and in rural telephone and electric cooperatives.

Obey requested funding for the following efforts which are of special importance for Wisconsin and have been included in the bill:

** $500,000 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;

** $500,000 to support a research project at the Marshfield 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 UW-Marshfield Agricultural Research Station, Mid-State Technical College, Northcentral Technical College, the project will attempt 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;

** $1.4 million to complete the establishment of the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology at UW-Stevens Point. Specializing in applied science research and development, WIST is intended to provide state-of-the-art education to students in industrial sciences, engineering and natural resources, helping develop and apply sustainable technology solutions to real-world problems, helping benefit the environment, enhance energy production and stimulate state and regional economies;

** $174,000 to 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, since 1994 NWMOC 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;

** $277,000 to 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;

** $450,000 to support an extension education and outreach program located on the Red Cliff Indian Reservation and administered by UW-Stevens Point. It seeks to address the needs of fish farms and hatcheries in Wisconsin and other northern states where cold climates create unique challenges and opportunities;

** $1.024 million to help the state continue to manage and contain Chronic Wasting Disease by encouraging herd owners to microchip animals for individual identification, help pay for sampling and disposal of infected animals, and containment. Wisconsin's deer population has suffered the nation's most extensive outbreak ever;

** $939,000 to help the state develop and implement Johnes Disease control strategies, a debilitating disease in cattle, similar to Crohn's disease in humans;

** $588,000 to assist the state in responding to the outbreak of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), a virulent fish disease which fishery experts fear, if left unchecked, 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;

** $1.5 million for the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium. These fund are intended to 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. Wisconsin is the most advanced state in the nation in developing a 48-hour traceback system for food-related disease outbreaks in livestock.

** $835,000 to support cooperative agreements with the Wisconsin Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, helping teach farmers low-input and low-cost farming practices, promote profitability and conservation and expand the use of grazing-based livestock production in Wisconsin. A national leader in management intensive grazing, Wisconsin has benefited from more successful farming operations and increased conservation practices;

** $1.4 million to support the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture's Value Added Dairy Initiative. VADI 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. Partners in the program, in addition to DATCP are the private, non-profit Dairy Business Innovation Center, University of Wisconsin, Extension Service, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, State Dept. Of Commerce, and Wisconsin Technical College System. Results from the 3 prior years of the program show over 1,000 jobs retained, 525 jobs created and $60 million reinvested in the dairy industry;

** $35 million for a national program to combat the Emerald Ash Borer infestation which 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 municipalities regulatory activities to limit the spread. The requested funding would help pay the cost of staffing, trapping, surveys and outreach. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture has received discretionary funds over the past 3 years from USDA including $2 million in FY2009.

The Senate must now consider the bill before it can be sent to the President for his signature.

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