As Scott Walker Panders in Iowa on Wind, Ethanol, His Budget Slashes Funding for Farms and the Environment

Mar 10, 2015

Panderer in chief Scott Walker flipped and flopped on ethanol subsidies and wind energy as he campaigned for president in Iowa over the weekend, but he’s been consistent back in Wisconsin with cut after cut for programs that support agriculture and the environment.

Included in Walker’s Iowa Caucus Budget is a proposal to cut state funding for a farm research program by one-third. Discovery Farms, a UW-Extension program started under former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, will lose $248,000 of its $750,000 budget that goes towards helping farmers all over the state with conservation strategies.

Walker’s program cut comes on top of a proposed $300 million cut to the University of Wisconsin System, which has raised concerns for university officials in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW-Madison. 

“Discovery Farms has tremendous support from the ag community. It’s the only program of its type in the state and deeply engages farmers in their actual work,” John Shutske, UW-Extension agriculture and natural resources program director and associate dean at UW-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences told the Wisconsin State Journal.

That’s something farmers in the state seem to agree on. In a statement, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation commented that, “there are more questions than answers about how agriculture’s priorities will fare in overall changes to the University of Wisconsin System.”

The Farm Bureau also praised the Discovery Farms program for its “innovative on-farm work,” and according to the Wisconsin State Journal, “was puzzled by the proposed cuts to agricultural research.”

“Over the weekend Scott Walker was saying and doing whatever it takes to get agricultural leaders in Iowa to support his campaign for president, but back in Wisconsin he’s cutting funding for programs that actually benefit farmers and our $88 billion agricultural economy,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Wednesday. “Scott Walker is already underwater with Wisconsin voters – he’s only going to lose more support around the state as he puts his personal political gains before our farm families.”