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Lawmakers Respond to Rural Bleeding with Cosmetics

With Wisconsin losing more than two family farms a day, state lawmakers convened in a special session are considering largely symbolic measures that fail to address the driving forces behind the farm crisis and are responding to hemorrhaging rural communities by offering to hand out what amounts to cosmetics gift sets.

“The agenda the governor put forward for the special session was puny. The agenda legislative leaders are now settling on is puny. The ideas are all well and good. But they don’t get anywhere close to the root of what’s gone haywire in the farm economy and what’s killing rural communities,” said Our Wisconsin Revolution executive director Mike McCabe, who got his start in life milking cows and working the land with his family, first in Rock County and later in Clark County.

“Family farmers are being driven out of business by get-big-or-get-out policies fueling massive-scale industrialization of agriculture. Why not an immediate moratorium on new factory feedlots? Why not put Wisconsin on record in favor of a new national supply management system allowing family farmers to keep their heads above water? Why not use the state budget surplus to bring high-speed Internet to the many places that currently can’t get it? Why not think as big as the farm crisis itself?” McCabe said.

He added that most rural residents do not farm but rather live and work in small towns. The legislature’s special session should address the health of the rural communities that farmers are a part of and depend on.

Our Wisconsin Revolution put forward eight ways to stabilize the farm economy, strengthen rural communities, and make the state a leader nationally in promoting countermeasures to rural decline:

“Family farmers are in crisis. Small towns are struggling and slowly dying. A way of life is threatened with extinction. This touches all of us, no matter where you live,” McCabe said. “One of the most powerful forces splitting America—the rural-urban divide—needs to be tackled and there is no better place to get serious about the effort than the state known as America’s Dairyland.”

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