(WFRV) – Wisconsin’s governor has announced $50 million in relief for Wisconsin farmers and $15 million food security initiative.
In a Wednesday release, Governor Tony Evers announced the Wisconsin Farm Support Program, a $50 million investment to provide direct payments to Wisconsin farmers in support of the agriculture sector during the coronavirus pandemic and a $15 million Food Security Initiative to combat hunger in the state.
Gov. Evers says Wisconsin is a national agriculture leader, but the coronavirus has created unprecedented challenges for the state’s farmers, food processors, and all those in the food supply chain.
Eligible farmers will be asked to apply for the aid through the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, which is working in collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Farm support payments could begin arriving as early as June.
“Farmers have asked for help, and this direct aid is meant to aid the farmers who are the foundation of our food system. Farmers also serve as the backbone of many of Wisconsin’s local rural economies, and these direct payments will help revitalize local economies and jump-start Wisconsin’s food supply chain, which has been significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gov. Evers said. “DATCP and I have engaged in productive meetings with agriculture stakeholders to ensure a fair, accessible distribution system for these aid payments, and I look forward to getting this relief into the hands of farmers around the state.”
A portion of the $15 million funding for the Food Security Initiative will go toward helping food banks, pantries, and other nonprofit organizations fighting food insecurity adapt to challenges posed by the coronavirus. Gov. Evers says this may include adjustments to public health and social distancing guidelines, such as curbside pickup or delivery services, purchasing prepared meals from local restaurants for distribution, as well as other expenses that are being incurred by these organizations as they continue to provide services to families in need.
The initiative will emphasize the importance of prioritizing the use of Wisconsin products wherever possible in feeding citizens who find themselves in need of support. Applicants are strongly encouraged to partner with local food experts to aid in connecting with farmers in their area.
According to Gov. Evers, these grants will bolster Wisconsin’s food supply chain by strengthening bridges, from producers and processors to food banks and consumers. This section of the Food Security Initiative will help ensure that the funding provided in the federal CARES Act goes to help Wisconsin organizations distribute nutritious Wisconsin food products to Wisconsin consumers who need them most.
“During this difficult time, people across our state don’t have enough to eat in a state that helps feed the entire country,” said Gov. Evers. “Connecting the dots between struggling food producers with organizations that are working to address food insecurity requires a coordinated effort—one that draws upon the ingenuity of our residents and their devotion to their neighbors and communities. Our farmers and agribusinesses have never wavered in their commitment to providing nutritious, high-quality food for folks here in Wisconsin and around the world. Now, we’re going all in together to support both Wisconsin’s agriculture industry and people in need throughout the state.”
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced direct assistance to farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The program provides $16 billion to farmers and ranchers impacted by the pandemic.