From my first high school job in a cheese factory, to seeing the innovation of Wisconsin farmers today, I know how important agriculture is to our state. Our agriculture industry is key to our economic success and Wisconsin’s farmers and farmworkers are among the most innovative in the nation.
That’s why we’ve worked to give Wisconsin farmers the tools they need to succeed. In my latest budget, I was proud to support programs like the Wisconsin Initiative for Agriculture Exports, grants for dairy processors, and a new program to grow the state’s meat processing industry. These investments are helping create new markets for Wisconsin farmers and our agriculture products.
I know many of the challenges our farmers face were only made worse during the pandemic, and we acted quickly to get direct support where it was needed most. We also directed $100 million to support more than 20,000 Wisconsin farmers through the Farm Support Program. Over the three rounds of this program, direct support has exceeded $1 million to farmers in more than half of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. This support is helping farmers pay bills, invest in equipment, and continue feeding and fueling Wisconsin and the world.
But our agriculture industry’s long-term success depends on supporting family farms and growing the agricultural workforce. Which is why I introduced a bold legislative package that builds on our success by creating new local markets, attracting new talent to the meat processing industry, and increases marketing for Wisconsin-made products.
We’ve also made critical investments to support mental health programs across Wisconsin, specifically for our farmers. Everyone should have the tools they need to cope with stress and deal with challenges in their lives, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done to expand these programs to make them more accessible for Wisconsin farmers.
Agriculture is key to the success of rural areas of our state, and when rural Wisconsin prospers, our whole state benefits. That’s why I created the Office of Rural Prosperity, which focuses on helping Wisconsinites navigate state programs and brings rural leaders together to solve problems specific to these parts of the state. We’ve also made major investments to expand affordable and accessible high-speed internet to 300,000 new homes and businesses; and we’ve repaired over 1,700 miles of road and nearly 1,300 bridges to make sure rural Wisconsin is connected to the rest of the state like never before.