Earlier this month, I wrote a column about my strong support for organic farming that appeared in the La Crosse Tribune. I'd like to share some more experiences with you that bring the rest of the picture into focus.
Last week, I toured Organic Valley, seeing firsthand the great things that happen at their farms and at their headquarters in La Farge. I also watched as they activated two new wind towers in Cashton in cooperation with Gundersen Lutheran.
Organic Valley is a true asset to our region. As Cashton village president Bob Amundson said, the growing company gives our region a chance to offer high quality jobs while preserving our agricultural heritage.
I recently introduced a motion to split S. 3240 - the Agriculture, Reform, Food and Jobs Act - into two separate bills, with separate votes on each. The motion would send the bill back to the Agriculture Committee with instructions to break it into two bills: one that includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (‘food-stamps’) and another bill that includes the agriculture provisions. The Senate would vote separately on these two bills.
When Congress debates legislation to spend nearly $1 trillion, we need to be honest with the American people about what we’re doing. This isn’t a farm bill. It’s a welfare bill. Nearly 80% of the spending in this bill - a little under $800 billion - is for food stamps. We should be clear about how much we are spending and why we are spending it - and we ought to give Senators the opportunity for a straight up or down vote on two different proposals that have little in common.
The picturesque farms you see while driving along the roads of Western Wisconsin are more than just for visible appeal. These farms represent one of Wisconsin’s number one industries – agriculture. As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, one of my first priorities this year is to fully capitalize on the strength of our agriculture industry. Based on recent meetings with members of the agriculture community, I see the potential to make significant strides.
Strengthening the ability of community banks to lend to Wisconsin’s agriculture community is a topic to be addressed at a public hearing held by the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions and Rural Issues. Individuals who are concerned about the over-reaching effects of federal regulations on small community banks are welcome to attend and listen to invited speakers from the financial industry.
The hearing will be held in La Crosse on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 from 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Lunda Center on the campus of Western Technical College.
As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a member of the Financial Institutions and Rural Issues Committee, I am concerned about the growing problem of community banks being able to lend to local farmers and agriculture businesses.
Kapanke to Return as Chair of Senate Agriculture Committee
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 12/08/2010
A La Crosse lawmaker has been re-seated as the chair the Wisconsin Senate Agriculture Committee during the next legislative session. Sen. Dan Kapanke, who previously led the panel in 2004-2006, will replace Democrat Kathleen Vinehout as its leader. He was one of 14 committee chairs appointed this week by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.