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Fighting for America’s Dairyland

Posted by Jennifer Shilling, State Senator Dist 32 (B)
Jennifer Shilling, State Senator Dist 32 (B)
Jennifer Shilling lives in La Crosse with her husband and two children. She curr
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on Friday, 24 January 2020 in Wisconsin

farm-familyWe need a meaningful and comprehensive approach to help our farmers and rural communities succeed.


MADISON - When you say ‘Wisconsin’ what is the first thing that comes to mind? For me, I think ‘America’s Dairyland.’ As Wisconsinites, that title is something we take deep pride in, knowing that our state produces the finest milk and cheese in the nation.

It isn’t surprising that Wisconsin produces more than 26 percent of the nation’s cheese and accounts for more than 14 percent of the nation’s milk productions. Between cheese, dairy and vegetables, agriculture contributes almost $105 billion to our state’s economy.

What’s easy to forget is the people whose sweat, hard work, perseverance, and dedication built the foundation of our state pride.

Despite this honorable farming heritage, Wisconsin has been losing dairy farms at an alarming rate – roughly two farms a day – and our state leads the nation in farm bankruptcies. We cannot abandon those generations of families that have dedicated their lives to feeding our families and communities.

jennifer-shillingOur local farm families are the backbone of communities across Wisconsin, but the federal trade war is making it impossible for many to stay afloat. Rather than closing markets and eliminating trade opportunities, we should be supporting our local farmers and helping them compete on a level playing field.

The time for action is now, and Governor Evers is seizing this moment by calling a special session for the legislature to address these challenges head on. The package of bills he announced in his State of the State address aim to do the following: create the Wisconsin Initiative for Dairy Exports to help build Wisconsin’s dairy brand in international markets, expand the Farm Center that currently provides no-cost services to farmers, increase staffing at UW Extension to ensure farmers have partners and resources closer to home, and help connect farmers and their produce to local universities, tech colleges, hospitals and businesses through a farm-to-fork program.

Additionally, the Governor wants to expand rural access to broadband services, improve access to affordable health care, and help rural communities harness the technologies, opportunities and jobs of the renewable energy economy.

This is a meaningful and comprehensive approach to help our farmers and rural communities succeed.

By promoting financial security and expanding economic opportunities, we can support Wisconsin’s family farmers and ensure everyone can enjoy healthy, affordable and locally-grown food options.

My Democratic colleagues and I remain committed to working with Gov. Evers to advance these bold solutions and improve the economic security and prosperity of Wisconsin rural communities.

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Jennifer Shilling lives in La Crosse with her husband and two children. She currently represents the 32nd State Senate District which includes La Crosse, Vernon, Crawford, and part of Monroe Counties.

She is serving her first full term as the State Senator for the 32nd Senate District after being elected in a 2011 special election. She previously served as the State Representative for the 95th Assembly District and worked as a legislative aide to State Representative Mark Meyer and Congressman Ron Kind. She is a proud graduate of UW-La Crosse and a former La Crosse County Supervisor.

Jennifer was elected by her colleagues as the Senate Democratic Leader. She has served as a ranking member on the Joint Committee on Finance,which is primarily responsible for crafting the state's biennial budget and reviewing state appropriations and revenues. She has also served on the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Public Works, and Telecommunications and the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges.

Locally, Jennifer serves as a member of the UW-La Crosse Alumni Association Board of Directors (past President), the UW-La Crosse Chancellor’s Community Council, the La Crosse Area Habitat for Humanity Women Build (Honorary Chairwoman), the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce, the La Crosse County Local Emergency Planning Committee, the La Crosse County League of Women Voters, the La Crosse County Democratic Party, the Vernon Women’s Alliance, and the Viroqua Chamber Main Street.

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