Growing It In Wisconsin - Demanding Food Sovereignty and a New Dairy Revitalization Plan
Tom grew up in Little Chute where his father founded a Lutheran church. His grandparents operated a dairy farm in Polk County. He understands intimately the joys and struggles of rural Wisconsin and how they are being left behind as a result of corporate globalization and Wall Street greed. The Dairyland state has lost over 70% of its dairy farmers in the past 20 years. This is tragic to lose the heartbeat of so many of our small towns. Meanwhile, the decline in manufacturing, including our paper industry, has also contributed to our struggle to retain population and vitality in our small towns. We need to invest in food sovereignty that invests in our local food economies, not out-of-state hog and dairy factories that threaten our water quality and rural way of life. And we need to reform our tax and trade policy to stop favoring offshoring manufacturing to China and start making things here again in Wisconsin.
- Enforce and revive antitrust laws and break up monopolies. During Tom’s 72 county Full Nelson tour, he heard about the impacts of corporate monopolies on rural communities, from the loss of community banks to Amazon’s impact on small businesses, to higher seed and input costs for farmers to not getting a fair price for their milk, beef and other crops.
- Represent Wisconsin on the Senate Agriculture Committee to fight for policies that support food sovereignty and family farmers. That means a growth management policy to ensure a fair price for Wisconsin’s hardworking dairy farmers, reforming corrupt cooperatives that are failing to represent their farmer members, reforming the broken checkoff system that serves as a tax on our farmers and institute country-of-origin labeling so we know where our food comes from.
- Expansion of broadband to all communities and challenging big tech companies who refuse to invest in rural towns. The FDR New Deal rural electrification program transformed rural America. Broadband is every bit the economic necessity that electricity is, especially when COVID forced students to rely on remote learning. Broadband should also be made a public utility and regulated accordingly to ensure geographic coverage and affordability.
- Opposing Line 5 to ensure it no longer threatens Wisconsin’s rural environment and violates tribal sovereignty.
- Crack down and oppose out-of-state industrial livestock CAFOs like the 26,000 hog factory proposed in Burnett County and others in Kewaunee County and elsewhere that are driving out family farms and endangering public health.
- Participated in a private-public cover cropping partnership with area farmers to limit run off, keep green house-causing gasses in the ground (i.e. methane) and improve crop yields.
- Outagamie County is one of the top state-wide recipients of land conservation grants that assist farmers in land management.
- Fully fund UW-Extension agriculture agents to assist small family farms on a variety of issues including soil conservation and crop yields.
- 100 percent Farmers Union voting record as a member of the State Assembly.
- Strong and consistent supporter of the Knowles-Nelson stewardship fund as a state legislator.
- Outagamie County helps lead a regional broadband study initiative to make efficient use of ARPA and other federal and state grant money to build out broadband infrastructure and ensure residents have access to fast internet.
Watch Tom’s speech on farming and antitrust here.