Bills aim to support farmers and their future

Published: Sep. 3, 2019 at 6:11 PM CDT
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Wisconsin lawmakers made a new push to help farmers and the agricultural industry. Tuesday morning, lawmakers introduced a package of three bills called "Our Farms, Our Future."

One bill aims to help farmers plan succession and how to pass on their farms. Another tries to ease the burden of student loans on young farmers. The third bill would make grants available to small farmers who want to expand.

"I think they do address a lot of the needs and hopes for our farms and their futures," said State Rep. Dave Considine (D-Baraboo).

Benjamin and Meghan Snare are two farmers who said these bills could help them tremendously. The couple started farming just three years ago, growing several types of vegetables, and they have already felt the financial strain.

"You have big dreams, you have ideas, you have a vision for what you want it to be, but you have to have some capital," Benjamin said.

The Snares have worked on diversifying and adding new revenue streams. They started growing hemp, and they host regular farm to table dinners featuring their produce.

"We want to grow a real business that has real value, and we have to look at ways being creative doing that," Benjamin said.

The couple is especially interested in the bill that would make $50,000 grants available to small farmers like them.

"It's for people who have less than 50 acres who want to expand their small business," said State Rep. Don Vruwink (D-Milton), who introduced that bill.

The couple said that kind of support would help cover costs as they continue to grow their business.

"It is a real initiative to try and have a farm that can have a sustainable business without capital, so that's where this bill is just going to be so beneficial," Benjamin said.

The Snares have already started planning what they want to do next.

"We're really looking as our next step to build an event barn and have an exhibition style kitchen," Meghan said.

The couple said if they could get a grant like the one proposed by the bill, they would put it towards that event barn and kitchen. They want to use those spaces to connect people with farmers and share different ways others can support agriculture.

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