ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Governor Scott Walker did include agriculture in his State of the State address last evening by saying how important it is to the state's economy and what challenges are now facing our farmers. He touted the increased of farming's impact on the state-rising from $59 billion in 2007 up to $88 billion last year. But he also recognizes the tough times farmers are facing with low prices and the stress of finding employees to help on the farm. The governor wants more young people to get involved in agriculture in some way through his Family Farm Fund which encourages students to take more agricultural classes at our technical colleges and 4 year campuses. He also said he signed an Executive Order yesterday that helps farmers sell more of their products across the country and the world. And he also said the state has committed $41 and a half million to expand high speed internet to rural schools and homes across the state.
Gov. Scott Walker proclaimed the State of the State is "historically strong" during an address in the assembly chamber of Wisconsin's state capitol building Wednesday.
We may be looking at another mega merger in agriculture. This time it would be in the grain handling industry. Reports say Archer Daniels Midland Company has proposed a takeover of Bunge Limited. Bunge, which is headquartered in New York, operates grain facilities in 40 countries and is currently Brazil's largest exporter of agricultural products. ADM recently moved its headquarters from Danville, Illinois to Chicago and has customers in 160 countries. But ADM does not have a strong presence in South America and that would change with the Bunge purchase. Both have been around a long time as Bunge is about 200 years old while ADM was founded in 1902. But before any sale could happen the proposal would have to be cleared by countries all over the world. The purchase price could go as high as $100 a share. And grain farmers across the U.S. are already worried about such a deal since they say it will lessen competition for their grain resulting in even lower prices.
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has long said his agency will not write a farm bill but would instead give Congress a set of principles the administration wants to see in the new 2018 farm bill. The major principles include a fiscally responsible bill that reduces the regulatory burden on farmers and a bill that improves the farm safety net. Perdue said he wants to see a more innovative crop insurance program, more access to the farming opportunity for young people and more incentives to access foreign markets with our farm production as well as improve current farm bill programs, like the Margin Protection Program for dairy farmers, so it will actually give them some price relief when prices are low.
Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin had a meeting yesterday at the Agriculture Department in Washington. She met with an Assistant Secretary for Rural Development to talk about the needs of rural areas across the state and the country. Baldwin wants USDA to be more active in expanding rural broadband access, put more money in projects to upgrade our inland waterway system with lock and dam funding and come up with more funding to help our rural health facilities that she said are struggling to fight the opioid epidemic.
The American Beekeeping Federation has a new Queen and she's from Wisconsin. Jenny Gross of Sheboygan was recently selected to be the group's 2018 queen at their annual meeting in Reno. Gross moves up from her duties last year as Wisconsin Honey Queen and will spend this year travelling the country promoting the honey industry. She is also a sophomore at Concordia University near Milwaukee.