Farmers, GOP lawmakers decry high fuel prices on National Agriculture Day

MADISON, Wis. — Politicians on both sides of the aisle took time on Tuesday to thank farmers on National Agriculture Day.

Tuesday morning, the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Republican National Committee hosted a virtual discussion about issues facing farmers, especially high energy prices.

During the event, U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany and State Rep. Tony Kurtz blasted President Joe Biden for high fuel prices and inflation, which they said have significantly harmed those in the agriculture industry. They also talked about the effects Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is having on farmers in the United States.

“Many farmers are cutting back, unfortunately,” Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) said. “And like Congressman Tiffany talked about, with the horrible Russian invasion of Ukraine – Ukraine being the breadbasket of Europe – we in the United States should be producing as much grain, as much agricultural products as we possibly can to make up for that shortfall in Ukraine.”

Rachel Schroeder, a dairy farmer in Jefferson County, said that while milk prices for farmers are up, other costs related to hauling means farmers’ margins are the same or worse than they previously were. The same is true for corn, she added.

“Everyone thinks farmers are getting rich this year, but as the representative and congressman have said, your price for RoundUp, your price for fertilizer is doubling,” she said. “So again, your margins are exactly the same if not even worse than right now.”

In a statement Tuesday evening, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler touted investments in agriculture made as part of the American Rescue Plan and other legislation at the state and federal levels.

“In the American Rescue Plan alone, Democrats have invested over $10 billion in programs that will strengthen our agricultural industry and build a better, more competitive America,” Wikler said. “Funds from Democrats’ rescue plan are making these industries more competitive by addressing supply chain disruptions for families and farmers, advancing equity in agriculture, investing in farmworker training, and many additional programs.”

During an event in Plymouth, Gov. Tony Evers signed what his office described as a bipartisan bill that will use more than $883,000 from an unused appropriation to help promote dairy exports.

In a proclamation declaring Tuesday as National Agriculture Day, Biden thanked farmers for their resiliency amid the COVID-19 pandemic and “tireless efforts” to feed the country:

“My Administration is also committed to protecting farmers — including small family farms that are vital to our food system — by bolstering competition across the industry and around the world. We are taking action to enforce antitrust laws, move agriculture products to market more expeditiously, expand new agriculture processing capacity, and strengthen our supply chain resiliency. We are also eliminating systemic barriers that have denied underserved producers consistent, fair, and equal access to opportunities for far too long. My Administration remains determined to advance an American agriculture sector that works for everyone.”