State News

Republicans introduce tax aids for farmers as part of agricultural package

Assembly Republicans responded to Gov. Tony Evers’ agriculture proposals with a more aggressive bill package of their own aimed at creating higher exports and tax cuts.

Assembly Republicans responded to Gov. Tony Evers’ agriculture proposals with a more aggressive bill package of their own aimed at creating higher exports and tax cuts.

Image By: Brandon Moe

Assembly Republicans introduced an agricultural bill package Monday designed to address economic issues, including some amendments to bills prior to Gov. Tony Evers’ special session.

The Republican package sidelines some of Evers’ and Democrats’ previously stated agricultural goals, such as adding positions in the Department of Trade, Agriculture and Consumer Protection to increase access to grants and mental health programs.

During a press conference Monday, Rep. Loren Oldenburg, R-Viroqua, outlined the aims of the five proposed bills, which included increases in dairy processing grants, increasing exports and a property tax credit for agricultural buildings for farmers.

Oldenburg said, as a lifelong farmer, he is excited to propose the new bills since he knows how important farming is for Wisconsin.

“We have been working on Ag issues all session, but I am excited to continue this bold effort through the remainder of the legislative session,” Oldenburg said.

Among the changes to the Governor’s agenda, Republicans are proposing a $5 million plan to increase exports — higher than Evers’ initial proposal of $1 million. 

Another bill would allow self-employed workers to deduct health insurance costs from their taxes, something Evers proposed in his last budget. 

Since nearly 85 percent of Wisconsin farmers are self-employed, it’s estimated about $2.5 million of the $9.5 million bill would go to farmers. This detail prompted across-the-aisle praise from Rep. Dave Considine, D-Baraboo, on Republican proposal. 

"This is I think a really progressive tax bill," Considine said. "The rest of that is going to go to the working poor."

Other bill proposals include:

  • A Republican proposed property tax cut targeted at small and medium-sized farms that would phase out after three years and total about $27 million.
  • Three additional bills to support the UW-Extension, which brings University of Wisconsin research to farming communities across the state. 
  • A bill to improve predictability within the livestock facility siting process.

The bills were heard in the Committee on Agriculture Tuesday and could be ready for a full Assembly vote by next week. 

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