Government checks still going out to farmers

Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 7:08 AM CST
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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) - The government is still writing checks to farmers. As of the first of this month almost $9 billion has been sent out to farmers from the second Coronavirus Food Assistance program. That includes $4.4 billion to crop farmers, 2.4 billion to livestock producers, 877 million to dairy farmers and almost 22 million dollars to poultry farmers. Iowa farmers have gotten the most money so far-almost 870 and a half million dollars, followed by Nebraska, Minnesota at almost 599 million dollars, Illinois, California, Kansas, South Dakota and then Wisconsin with payments of $406.1 million as of November first.

The USDA has stopped collecting data for its Farm Labor Survey. So the Labor Department has released a final rule which will set wage guidelines for H-2A guest workers.

That rule would set wages for field and livestock workers through the end of 2023. The rate would be based on average hourly wages included in the November, 2019 Farm Labor Survey. Unions like the United Farm Workers have already filed lawsuits challenging both the USDA’s decision to stop the Farm Labor Survey and the Labor Department’s final wage rules.

There will be a new Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in the next Congress. That’s because current chair, Colin Peterson, who has represented his rural Minnesota district for the past 3 decades was beaten in Tuesday’s election. Former Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Michelle Fischbach beat Peterson in what one political science professor in Minnesota said would mean the end of the moderate rural Democrat as more and more rural areas are turning Republican.

In Wisconsin politics, things could get interesting in the state senate during the next term. That’s because Democrat Brad Pfaff won the seat in the 32nd Senatorial District from his Republican challenger, former senator Dan Kapanke. Senator-elect Pfaff was designated to be the state Agriculture Secretary in the Evers Administration and served in that job until the state senate failed to confirm his nomination last November. But he won’t have to spar with the leader of the effort to defeat his nomination as Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald is heading to Washington as the newly elected Congressman to represent the 5th Congressional District. That seat was formerly held by James Sensenbrenner who decided to retire from Congress.

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