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Ag Secretary announces more financial aid for farmers impacted by the pandemic

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 8:03 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week more financial aid is going to certain areas of agriculture because of ongoing financial stress caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Vilsack said the aid would deal with a number of gaps and disparities in previous rounds of financial aid. Included in this latest round of help will be timber harvesters, biofuels producers, dairy farmers and processors, livestock farmers, contract poultry growers as well as assistance for organic cost sharing. For various areas of the dairy industry it looks like about $1 billion will be made available through this new initiative.

The livestock industry was a main focus of testimony earlier this week before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Senators questioned Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on issues like price transparency, slaughter capacity, how to make cattle pricing more competitive and fairer for producers and what changes, if any, need to be made to the Packers and Stockyards Act. The hearing was part of the process to establish the USDA budget for Fiscal Year 2022.

We’re not the only part of the world that is dry. Brazil is going through its driest period in almost a century. That’s making river transportation hard and is costing producers and exporters more money to get their commodities to the ports for export. Some commodities already affected are soybeans, coffee and sugar. At some ports that serve major growing areas, the Brazilian government has reduced the draft on ships meaning less cargo can be loaded on ocean going vessels.

State and University of Wisconsin-Madison leaders will break ground tomorrow on a building expansion at the School of Veterinary medicine. The $128 million project will include a new building that will provide more class rooms, double the size of the small animal hospital, significantly increase the size of the large animal hospital, expand lab space and increase and modernize the space for infectious disease research. The funding for the project was included in the 2019-2020 state budget that also includes $38 million in private funds.

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