TOWN OF GOETZ, Wis. (WEAU) -- At the farm of Les Danielson, just north of Cadott, it was time to listen – but it was Democrat U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin and Jeff Merkley from Oregon, whose ears were opened.
The visit was tied to working on a new five-year-long farm bill. The Senate passed its version Thursday with a vote of 86-11. To Baldwin, this is a sign her side of Capitol Hill has the right plan.
"We're in a crisis here and I wanted to make sure that message was loud and clear and that there was a response – at least, the best we could do in this farm bill that's going to last five years," Baldwin said to WEAU 13 News on Friday.
Now, the real horse trading begins. With the current bill set to expire on Sept. 30, that Senate version must try to come together with one that narrowly escaped the House floor earlier this month.
The House version changes eligibility for food stamps and moves some money from the program to other initiatives. To this, the office of one of Baldwin's GOP rivals this election year – state senator Leah Vukmir – released a statement to WEAU 13 News on Friday
“The farm bill is the perfect example why people hate Washington,” part of Friday’s statement said. “Nearly 80% of the bill's spending goes to food stamps — not farming. Sen. Baldwin and her liberal colleagues love to advance their far-left agenda using our hardworking farmers as puppets. "
Baldwin said, in response: "When you pay for food, you are also contributing to those who grow the food, who raise the livestock – and so that's the bottom line."
Friday's stop was made within Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional district. The office of its representative – Republican Sean Suffy – also sent a statement to WEAU 13 News.
"The House-passed Farm Bill is a huge win for Wisconsin farmers and will help them remain the best in the world," part of the statement from Duffy’s office said. “It creates the Dairy Risk Management Program, which provides higher coverage levels and lower premiums for the first 5 million pounds of milk.
“Additionally, right now in America, there are more jobs available than people looking for work, and there has never been a better opportunity to find a job. That’s why the final version of the Farm Bill should include the House's reform that requires more people to strive for the American Dream with commonsense work requirements for work-capable adults.”
With three months to go before the current farm bill is set to expire, Baldwin extended a hand across the aisle, as well as the U.S. Capitol.
“We benefit greatly from the diversity in our dairy sector and we need to keep those provisions in,” she said. “I am happy to work with any willing House member to do the strongest bill we can that helps our Wisconsin dairy farmers weather the storm.”
Congress is now out for the next week, as it takes its Fourth of July recess, but Friday's host admitted the roundtable discussion with area farmers and agriculture experts was a welcome change from his initial expectation.
"We had organic farmers, we had some large farmers, small farmers, crop farmers and they listen to everything we had to say and our concerns,” Les Danielson said to WEAU 13 News on Friday. “I expected them to talk to us, but it was just the other way around.”