Wisconsin has a long tradition of being a leader in agriculture. That tradition continues today as the state is one of the national leaders in milk production and value added dairy products such as cheese and butter.
In addition, Wisconsin is a leader in specialty crops like cranberries, ginseng and many varieties of vegetables.
The 6th Congressional District has a strong agricultural presence, as evidenced by the more than 10,000 farms that operate within its borders. Congressman Petri recognizes the importance of agriculture to the local and national economy and has been a supporter of several programs that assist the Wisconsin agricultural community to maintain its vast diversity and production.
The farm bill was last reauthorized in 2008. The Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007, H.R. 2419, was the House-passed version of this bill. During House consideration in 2007, Rep. Petri voted in support of a number of amendments to reform the farm bill, but ultimately voted against the legislation. On June 18, 2008, President Bush vetoed the farm bill, but on the same day Congress voted to override the President's veto, so it became law. The farm bill is due to be reauthorized in 2012.
Along with many other members of the House, Rep. Petri believed that the farm bill reauthorization did not implement necessary reforms in many important areas such as farm subsidies, conservation, and trade. The legislation failed to more fairly distribute federal program spending and benefits across a larger share of the U.S. farm community, distorted the rural economy and weakened our hand at the World Trade Organization by establishing new subsidies that would set back trade negotiations.
The low dairy prices of the past few years have triggered some of the federal government's dairy support programs. While these have provided some relief, many in the industry are seeking ways to reform these programs to help reduce dairy price volatility in the future. As the next reauthorization of the farm bill approaches, a number of proposals -- ranging from supply management to a new system of margin insurance to reforms to the federal milk marketing orders regime -- are currently being discussed. Rep. Petri looks forward to working with those in the Sixth District who are impacted by these policies to help craft reforms that will help to provide stability while keep the industry competitive going forward.