Evers' proposal aims to add funding for UW-Extension

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Wisconsin could see a boost in the number of county agriculture agents under a proposal in Gov. Tony Evers' budget.

Evers is looking to restore $3.5 million to the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

The proposal would divide the funding into $1.5 million for the first fiscal year and then $2.5 million for the next.

It would also add another 20 full-time county-based agriculture agents.

Eau Claire’s UW-Extension says some counties no longer have any agricultural agents like Rusk County and says even Chippewa Falls used to have two agents and now only has one.

UW-Extension says in 2017 it had 78 agriculture agents but that number dropped to 64 during the last fiscal year.

Agricultural agent Mark Hagedorn says they're being spread a little thin and often have to go across county lines to get help from neighboring agents and share expertise.

Hagedorn said, “If we had the latitude to get a few gaps filled I think that would be good for all. I'm also of the opinion that it would be interesting to take a deeper dive into areas of specialization. I think that there have been some good arguments made that this could make us, on a county level, more efficient and we could maybe be able to deliver a little more bang for our buck to our counties and taxpayers.”

Hagedorn says agriculture agents are resources for producers and residents in the county for issues relating to dairy, livestock, horticulture and they're even currently helping advise on Eau Claire’s poultry project that's being enacted within city limits.