Rep. Ed Brooks, R-Reedsburg, wants to make it easier for unemployed veterans to find work in agriculture.

Brooks has co-authored the Wisconsin Veterans Farm Bill of 2017, which would create a program to help veterans start a farm. The bill was introduced by Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, and Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, and co-authored by Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville. Brooks and Testin represent portions of Monroe County.

Brooks said he anticipates the bill to succeed because it’s bipartisan and has support from leaders with “very different backgrounds.” It shows how much people want veterans to succeed.

Veterans may choose from a wide variety of agricultural paths, varying from dairy to small gardens to Community Supported Agriculture.

“We’ve seen a lot of success in recent years with CSAs,” he said.

The bill includes a proposal to make a logo for veteran-produced goods, Brooks said. It could be reminiscent of another logo, “Something Special from Wisconsin,” which adorns cheese, meat and other items from state producers.

Brooks said he wouldn’t be surprised if consumers look for veteran-owned farms.

“It’s a good bill,” he said. “There are a lot of people who want to support veterans.”

Agriculture is also a great way for families to work together to support their household, said Brooks, a veteran who has farmed for decades. He said veterans and their families can grow their own while providing some additional income. Working outside and being productive can be therapeutic for stressed veterans as well.

In a statement, Goyke said the bill would benefit not only veterans and agriculture but the also the workforce in general.

“It makes investments in both the future of agriculture and the futures of our veterans,” he said. “It’s good policy and I’m proud to author it.”

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Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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