Veteran Farming Bill, Infamous Mothers, Photographing UW-Madison’s Libraries, Disability Claims Rise In Rural Areas

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Over the past two decades, the number of working-age Americans claiming disability has nearly doubled, with the biggest increase seen in rural areas. Our guest says that as jobs have relocated to other places, many have turned to disability as a means of support. A UW-Madison student also joins us to talk about taking photographs of the university’s dozens of libraries. A veteran farming bill also gets a closer look, and during Wisconsin Life, we learn about an organization trying to destigmatize mothers on the outskirts of society.

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  • New Proposed Legislation Would Help Wisconsin Veterans Become Farmers

    Wisconsin veterans could have a helping hand if they want to become a farmer under a new bill introduced today at the state Capitol. State Representative Evan Goyke and State Senator Patrick Testin join us to talk about the legislation.

  • Bill Aims To Help Wisconsin Veterans Become Farmers

    A new bipartisan bill in the Wisconsin Legislature would provide assistance to veterans and their families as a way of encouraging them to get into agriculture. The “Wisconsin Veterans Farm Bill of 2017” was introduced this week by Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, and Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point.

    The first goal of the bill would be to provide mentorship and assistance to veteran farmers through the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protections, the lawmakers said. The program would not only help veterans looking to get into farming but veterans currently working in agriculture.

    Goyke said while the bill itself doesn’t have a financial component, it will create better avenues for the DATCP and the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs to use their combined resources to help veterans and farmers.

    “Getting those agencies to talk to one another so that veterans going into farming or that are existing farmers understand what options and what programs are available in the state,” Goyke said. “I don’t think these two agencies are talking to each other in this context yet and that’s one of the major outcomes of this bill that we see as a positive.”

    Goyke admitted that getting started in agriculture can seem like a daunting task for a veteran, especially if they didn’t grow up on a farm. But he said that the state ought to step up and provide veterans with mentorship opportunities and assistance to guarantee their success.

    The second part of the bill would be to create a special logo for products produced by veteran farmers to distinguish their produce or meat for Wisconsin consumers.

    “For me as a consumer, I then can direct my dollars to support these initiatives,” Goyke said. “And the farmer benefits from being able to boost their produce in the store.”

    While the bill aims to address the needs of veterans and their families specifically, Testin said that the bill could have more widespread benefits in the state.

    “When you take a look at the state of Wisconsin, this is also a workforce development issue,” Testin said. “We have about 69,000 farms in the state of Wisconsin, but the average age of our farmers is in the upper 50s. So, we need to make sure that we’re developing pipelines for people to take an interest in (agriculture). And I can’t think of a harder working group of individuals than veterans to do just that.”

    Farming is one of the most significant economic drivers in the state. Agriculture generates more than $88 billion annually for the state and accounts for nearly 12 percent of the state’s jobs, according to DATCP.

    Both lawmakers stressed that the bill would help veterans interested in farming in any part of the state regardless of whether they’re planning on living in rural or urban areas. Additionally, Gold Star families would be eligible for this assistance if it passes in the Legislature.

    In addition to Goyke and Testin, the bill was also co-authored by Rep. Ed Brooks, R-Reedsburg, and Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville.

  • Capturing The Personalities Of Campus Libraries

    A UW-Madison student turned a photography assignment into a tribute to the more than 40 libraries on campus. We talk with her about some of the least known spots, and which are her favorites.

  • New Investigation Shows More Rural Americans Turning To Disability As Jobs Disappear

    Between 1996 and 2015, the number of working-age Americans seeking disability nearly doubled. And in rural areas, the increase has been particularly noticeable as jobs relocate to other areas. We’ll speak with Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post about his piece, “Disabled, or just desperate? Rural Americans turn to disability as jobs dry up.”

Episode Credits

  • Kate Archer Kent Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Host
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • State Senator Patrick Testin Guest
  • Evan Goyke Guest
  • Elise Schimke Guest
  • Terrence McCoy Guest

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