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Evers Honors Request for $50 Million in Direct Farm Payments

Exactly one month after eight Wisconsin farm organizations asked the Evers Administration for up to $50 million in direct cash payments for state farmers who are suffering from financial setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor announced on Wednesday a program where affected producers could apply for such relief. It's called the Wisconsin Farm Support Program, where eligible farmers will be asked to apply for the aid through the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, which is working in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture to distribute the funds.


In addition, an extra $15 million would be allocated to help combat hunger through the newly created Food Security Initiative. All of the money comes from the state's share of the $2.2 trillion federal CARES Act, of which Wisconsin received about $2 billion.


"Farmers have asked for help, and this direct aid is meant to aid the farmers who are the foundation of our food system," Gov. Evers said. "Farmers also serve as the backbone of many of Wisconsin's local rural economies, and these direct payments will help revitalize local economies and jump-start Wisconsin's food supply chain, which has been significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic."


Interim Agriculture Secretary Randy Romanski says producers could see payments as early as June if they qualify for the program.


"This funding will help support the diverse farms across the state as they recover from these difficult circumstances," Romanski said. "It will also help connect the dots between our food producers and people in need."


Meanwhile, the groups that originally asked for the funding thanked the governor on Wednesday, saying they appreciate that the administration acknowledged the direct need of the state's farmers.


"The pandemic's crushing economic effects on our commodity markets are unprecedented. The crisis severely twisted our supply chains, devastated our labor force and created anxiety for our customers. COVID-19 will likely bankrupt many multi-generational farms in Wisconsin," the organizations said in a joint statement.


The request was made by board members of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Dairy Business Association, Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, Wisconsin Soybean Association, Wisconsin Pork Association, Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association, Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association and Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association.


Specific criteria for the program and details on how farmers can apply for the funding will be released in the coming days.