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Tammy Baldwin in Beaver Dam

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, shown here visiting recently with constituents at Higher Grounds Coffee Shop in Beaver Dam, worked with other farm-state senators to push for provisions to help Wisconsin dairy farmers. PHOTO BY BEAVER DAM DAILY CITIZEN

The bipartisan Senate budget agreement that was cobbled together in order to avert a federal government shutdown was flawed in many ways. But it contained a lot of good news for Wisconsin farmers, thanks to U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

Baldwin recognized the urgency of the moment, noting that “our farmers are facing a very difficult year” and recognizing that “Washington has been far too slow to recognize the challenges facing our agriculture economy.” She sought to shift the dynamic by embracing innovative proposals and working across party lines to build alliances with senators from other farm states.

Baldwin’s flexibility and commitment made the senator from Wisconsin a critical player in a loose coalition of farm-state senators that did not let the budget negotiators forget that dairy farmers in states such as Wisconsin have been hurting for a number of years — as prices have dropped and market conditions have worsened.

Baldwin and her allies got a lot. The budget deal includes an investment of more than $1 billion in the safety net for dairy farmers, adjusts policies to benefit small dairy farms, provides more protections for farmers who are hit by drops in prices and increases in feed costs, and waives administrative fees for beginning, veteran, and underserved farmers.

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By securing "much-needed relief for our dairy farmers,” Baldwin said, as the agreement was worked out, “we are doing right by them and Wisconsin’s rural economy.”

True enough, but there’s more to it than that. Because the rural economy is such a vital component of the state’s overall economy, Baldwin's focus on improving conditions for our dairy farmers benefits all of Wisconsin.

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