Wisconsin farmers can start applying this month for direct payments from the state in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced the sign up for the Wisconsin Farm Support Program will start Monday, June 15.
Gov. Tony Evers announced in May the new program would receive $50 million of funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
During a call with reporters Thursday, DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski said farmers would receive between $1,000 and $3,500 based on their gross income in 2019 tax filings.
"In Wisconsin, there are tens of thousands of farms. So we wanted to make sure that this was able to include as many farms as possible," Romanski said.
Romanski said producers who made between $35,000 and $5 million in 2019 will be eligible for the payments. He said the state tried to make the program as inclusive as possible.
"We had everything from dairy to corn, soybeans, ginseng, cherries, potatoes and vegetables. The plan is to cover all commodities," Romanski said.
Farmers will have two weeks to apply for the aid through the state Department of Revenue’s website. Romanski said the short window will allow the program to get payments out more quickly.
He said the state plans to release exact details of the program and information on the sign up in the coming days, and provide assistance over the phone for Spanish- and Hmong-speaking producers.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Joe Bragger said he appreciates state officials getting the money to farmers quickly.
"We also recognize there's no way that these payments can make all our farmers whole. The losses have been staggering and our farmers are hurting pretty severely. But we appreciate so much any help that we can get," Bragger said.
Tom Crave, president of the Dairy Business Association, also applauded the eligibility details of the program.
"We realize it's a difficult decision for the government to decide how to break that money up," Crave said. "Even though $50 million is a lot of money, it is a limited amount. So I believe they’re hoping that farmers will take advantage of other federal programs that are out there."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also been issuing direct payments to farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. As of June 3, the program had paid more than $45 million to Wisconsin producers.