Wisconsin is home to nearly 70,000 farms, contributing $88.3 billion annually to our local economy. Our farmers support our communities and help our state compete here at home and on a global scale.

The farm bill is one of the most important bills for growing our local economy and supporting small and family farms, and we must ensure it helps open new markets and opportunities to sell more Wisconsin products.

With the 2014 farm bill nearing its expiration, it is important that we work together to fix the programs that need fixing and create new programs to help our small and family farmers succeed. One program that I’m working to fix is the Title I subsidy, or “safety net” program, which is lavishing huge taxpayer subsidies on millionaires and billionaires that don’t work on farms, while leaving Wisconsin’s small and family farmers behind.

Portions of the farm bill’s Title I are an unacceptable misuse of taxpayer dollars, and must be fixed before the bill leaves conference committee. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office admits that this safety net program makes it nearly impossible to determine how much the next farm bill will cost because wealthy farmers are cheating the system to qualify for subsidies they don’t need. It is a huge misuse of hardworking Wisconsinite’s tax dollars and incentivizes poor behavior.

As discussions about the 2018 farm bill continue, I will keep working with my colleagues on the farm bill conference committee to put small and family farmers first, protect our farming and outdoor traditions and save Wisconsinites hard-earned money. This outcome of our new farm bill should be stronger small and family farms, and I won’t accept anything less for Wisconsin’s hardworking farmers.

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Democrat Ron Kind, La Crosse, represents Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District.

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Tomah Journal editor

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

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