State Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen has tirelessly promoted the working-lands proposal for more than two years.
appointed a bipartisan Working Lands Initiative Steering Committee in 2005 and crafted the recommendations of that committee into a plan to modernize the Wisconsin Farmland Preservation Program, develop a statewide Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements program and create Agricultural Enterprise Areas to encourage agriculture in specific areas in each county.
and others who have been promoting the working-lands proposal should be commended for their foresight and understanding that something must be done soon.
To address how we may stem that loss and what measures the State of Wisconsin is taking to tackle this issue, Secretary Rod Nilsestuen of the Department of Trade, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) will speak to it at the New Berlin Public Library, Community Room, on Thursday October 23, 7pm.
New Berlin Land Conservancy, Inc.
, is sponsoring this meeting.
The public is invited.
, State of Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has accepted the invitation to be the presenter for the first seminar on October 23, 7pm @ the New Berlin Public Library
, Conference Room.
Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen is reconvening the Working Lands Initiative Steering Committee this week to up-date the panel on plans for a 2009 working lands state budget initiative.
said "the time is right" to advance a working lands proposal, even though state tax dollars are tight.
"We've got heightened public concern about food availability and whether we have enough land to produce food and biomass for renew-able products," Mr. Nilses-tuen said.
"All of those things boil down to having enough farm and forestland to do it."
The Working Lands Steer-ing Committee
was formed in 2005 to develop a consensus vision on managing Wiscon-sin's land assets.
Among the recommendations of the panel were proposals to overhaul the Farmland Pres-ervation Program; create ag-riculture enterprise zones to encourage farmers to volun-tarily keep their land from development; and implement a purchase-of-development-rights program to target farm-land most vulnerable to de-velopment pressure.
said De-partment of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protec-tion officials have been de-veloping the working lands proposal and are ready to un-veil it to policymakers.
thought it was impor-tant for task force members who proposed the proposals to be brought up to speed on the DATCP's progress.
"What I charged them with doing originally was putting together a broad series of policy recommendations, and I think they did a very good job of it," he
"Even though the recommendations didn't go into the (2007-2009) budget as we had first envisioned, we think there is a strong opportunity that it will be in there this time."
said the proposal wouldn't cost the state a lot of money, which could make it more palatable to lawmakers.
"We don't think it will be a big dipper," he
"(The proposals) won't be splashy and they won't be big, but by overhauling the Farmland Preservation Program we think we'll have adequate re-sources to do this."
The recently pass federal farm bill includes funds for farmland protection, Mr. Nilsestuen
said, and state of-ficials also have to do a bet-ter job of acquiring those federal funds.
"There is up to a 50 per-cent match for purchase of easements and other actions, so that will provide an oppor-tunity for us to spread our re-sources farther than we have before," he
said if the proposal were to be success-ful, it would need broad sup-port from agricultural, rural, environmental and local gov-ernment groups.
"I'm very hopeful this will be part of the policy stances of these organizations as we are going into an election year," Mr. Nilsestuen
"It's an opportune time to make that happen."
State officials are planning a series of working lands meetings across the state for this year, but he
doesn't ex-pect the task force to meet regularly or be involved in the statewide sessions.
"We'll be asking them how often they would like to meet and stay involved," he
said it was the only large committee he
ever appointed where everyone said yes the first time they were asked.