and Dairy Share Goals
New Wisconsin Governor, Legislature Share Priorities With Dairy
Volume 135, No.
28 Friday,January 7, 2010
This week, incoming Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced initial legislation to address his stated top three priorities for Wisconsin: “Jobs, jobs and jobs.”
Cheese production is the leading edge of Wisconsin’s $26 billion dairy economic engine and Wisconsin cheesemakers are adding jobs and building dairy plants. Governor Walker and the Wisconsin dairy industry share similar legislative priorities.
Governor Walker and dairy manufacturers agree that reform of state regulatory processes will stimulate growth and job creation.
New legislation from the Walker Administration will take a multi-pronged approach to improve Wisconsin's regulatory climate. First, it will state that an agency may not create rules more restrictive than the regulatory standards or thresholds provided by the Legislature.
Second, it will allow rules to be challenged in the county circuit court where the plaintiff resides. Third, this legislation will require the governor to approve proposed rules.
Walker states that, “Our proposal will take the power of regulating away from unelected bureaucrats and put it back where it belongs-in the hands of the people.”
WCMA has expressed concern, in particular, with regulation from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The state DNR exceeds its regulatory authority when staff add restrictions to wastewater permits not supported by statute or regulation. This “regulation by permit” creates uncertainty for business and adds cost.
WCMA is also concerned that DNR promotes regulation in advance of neighboring states and states that compete with our dairy industry. Most recently, new regulation in Wisconsin cut phosphorus emissions 10- to 20-fold for dairy manufacturers, food processors and municipalities.
Wisconsin’s uptake of these new restrictions (sought by US EPA) moved through the state rulemaking process at break-neck speed in 2010. Wisconsin manufacturers now face millions of dollars in new costs to remove phosphorus, years in advance of any regulatory activity in other states.
Investment Tax Credits
Governor Walker outlined this week several proposals for tax credits that incent businesses to grow in Wisconsin. In one proposal, companies new to Wisconsin would receive a credit equal to their first two years of income and franchise tax liability. Another proposal would increase the Economic Development Tax Credit fund by $25 million.
For the dairy industry, WCMA supports an extension of the state’s Dairy Manufacturing Facility Investment Tax Credit beyond its sunset on Jan. 1, 2015. In the last three years, this modestly funded ($700,000 in total) annual tax credit has spurred more than $100 million in new brick & mortar construction and equipment purchases at dairy plants and has added hundreds of full-time jobs.
WCMA proposes expansion of this investment credit program to $2 million annually, with a cap of $250,000 per project.
Babcock Hall Reconstruction
Built in 1950, Babcock Hall is a crucial teaching and research hub and home to the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, a collection of world-class researchers whose research, training, trouble-shooting and product development skills have helped revitalize Wisconsin's dairy industry.
Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, along with Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research and the food science department, has identified the reconstruction and expansion of the Babcock Hall dairy plant as crucial to Wisconsin's dairy future.
In December, WCMA announced a $500,000 pledge to kick-off a fund drive for Babcock Hall and urged the rest of the dairy industry to join this effort.
WCMA proposes that the Walker administration support reconstruction of Babcock Hall as a crucial Wisconsin business development priority and fast-track approval of a construction plan and budget.
Wisconsin’s dairy processing industry strongly opposes the sale of unpasteurized beverage milk from farms to consumers.
With a focus on business growth, the Walker administration can and should protect Wisconsin’s reputation for providing safe, wholesome and delicious dairy foods to consumers across the United States. An illness outbreak (or repeated outbreaks) associated with raw milk sales has the potential to undermine consumer confidence in Wisconsin dairy products.
As a new legislative session begins in Madison, WCMA will seek Walker administration support for pasteurization of beverage milk in the interest of consumer safety and the hard-won reputation of the state dairy industry.
John Umhoefer has served as executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association since 1992. You can phone John at (608) 828-4550; Fax him at (608) 828-4551; or e-mail John Umhoefer at