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Evers dedicates $43 million to rural initiatives in budget

February 5, 2021 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers’ two-year state budget will include $43 million in spending designed to help the state’s rural economy, he announced Friday.

Evers, a Democrat, submits his budget to the Republican-controlled Legislature on Feb. 16, which will take the next several months rewriting it before passing their version sometime in the summer.

Evers’ plan includes many of the recommendations made by a commission he created that submitted a report in December. Evers’ budget proposal includes plans to:

— Create and fund the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports to boost exports.

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— Increase by $1.2 million funding for a grant program that invests in dairy processors.

— Spend $20 million to connect Wisconsin food banks and pantries with farmers.

— Fund a grant programs that supplies farm fresh food to cafeterias at both schools and businesses.

— Create a meat processor grant program to help the industry, including increasing capacity.

— Create and fund a value-added grant program to provide education and technical assistance related to value-added agricultural products.

— Create a variety of programs designed to address water issues.

— Create a new regional farmer mental health program to help increase farmers’ access to mental health support services.

— Provide continued funding for the existing farmer mental health counseling service.