Gov. Jim Doyle is proposing the state buy development rights to some agricultural property as a way to stop developers from gobbling up Wisconsin farms.
The proposal also would give some farmers money to invest in their farms if Doyle's two-year budget plan is approved by the Legislature.
Wisconsin has been losing farms to suburban sprawl for decades.
To help slow the loss, Doyle has proposed buying so-called agricultural conservation easements to some important farms. The easements allow farmers to keep working the land but prevent them, their heirs or anyone who buys the land from developing the property.
The state would put up $12 million to buy the easements in partnership with local governments or private trusts.