Chad Zuleger is with the Dairy Business Association. He says, “The Assembly Ag Committee passed them out of committee unanimously, the milk and dairy products bill. We had a couple of votes against the meat labeling bill, but yes, I’m very pleased to see those bills moving along.”
Another bill awaiting a floor vote after completing committee work would shorten the state’s Farmland Preservation Program signups from 15 to 10 years and increases the credit per acre. State Senator Patrick Testin is confident the Legislature will approve of the changes. “This is another bill where we’ve had bipartisan support, where we’ve listened to the stakeholders to help incentivize more farmers to partake in this program so we can actually preserve our farmland and also provide good conservation efforts throughout the state.”
Brownfield asked Testin about the odds of sending the food labeling bills and the farmland preservation tax credit changes on to the Governor soon, and he says, “I think pretty good. Obviously, those are conversations that are going to have to be had with leadership in both houses, but given the bipartisan support of these bills, I can’t foresee why we would wait anytime past June to pass them.”
The bills have support from both sides of the political aisle, farmers, and lobbying groups, except the farmland preservation changes which are opposed by realtors.
If Wisconsin passes the food labeling bills, they are not automatically the law. The Dairy Business Association says a number of other states would have to follow suit because of federal interstate commerce rules.
When the bills were originally introduced in 2019, State Senator Howard Marklein told Brownfield 11 other states had passed meat labeling laws, and Wisconsin’s dairy labeling bills were the first of its kind. The bills died in the last session as COVID-19 shortened the legislative calendar, and the package was reintroduced this winter in the new legislative session.