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Legislation Would Transform Milwaukee’s Post-Industrial Central City into a Hub for Urban Farming

State Rep. Evan Goyke and State Sen. LaTonya Johnson are sponsoring four pieces of legislation in their respective chambers of the legislature. The legislation seeks to create a $10 million educational institution focused on urban agriculture, and greater access to resources for community organizations that work on urban farming projects throughout the city.

By Graham Kilmer
Urban Milwaukee
Oct 31st, 2017

Excerpt:

One of the bills directs the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to create the Office of Urban Agriculture. Another bill directs that new office to help urban farmers, and community organizations like the Hunger Task Force, with guidance and training and educational and promotional resources. This is something the state already does for industries like soybeans, dairy, corn and others, Goyke said. And with offices already existing for minority and veteran famers, he thinks an office for urban farming is warranted.

The other two bills being proposed should “cement Milwaukee’s position as a national leader in urban agriculture,” Goyke said.

These bills would create a School of Urban Farming and Nutrition. The new institution would be a space for universities and colleges in the Milwaukee area to research and provide education and degrees in urban farming for students. The ideal location for the school is somewhere in the central city along the 30th street corridor.

Read the complete article here.

“Wisconsin Urban Farming Futures” Initiative

Rural and urban farming operations play a vital role in the economic success of our State. Wisconsin’s agricultural economy is changing. At a recent Democratic Study Group meeting focused on the future of Wisconsin farming, legislators learned that median farm income and commodity prices are falling. Cost of production is high and Wisconsin dairies have been closing at an alarming rate.

Urban farming is part of Wisconsin’s future agricultural economy and agriculture community. States across the country are investing in urban farming, working to eliminate urban food deserts, encouraging entrepreneurship and creating new workforce opportunities for those interested in the agriculture field.

Milwaukee is home to a number of urban farming operations. To provide some examples – Central Greens Farm produces over 30,000 pounds of produce each year and supplies their products to over 40 restaurants and grocery stores. The Riverwest Co-Op purchases $5,000-$10,000 per year in produce from Milwaukee urban farmers. The Learn-Earn-Grow MKE pilot program produced 605 pounds of produce and created summer jobs, career training, and college preparation for 15 underserved MPS students and five MATC and UWM students. The program also built three micro-farm sites.

The Wisconsin Urban Farming Futures Initiative invests our State in supporting the field of urban farming. Specifically, the legislation accomplishes four goals:

1.) Creates within DATCP an Office of Urban Agriculture to help support those interested in urban farming and those individuals currently operating.

2.) Requires DATCP to develop and promote programs to support urban farming.

3.) Requires the identification of land in Milwaukee’s 30th Street Industrial Corridor for the future degree offering “Wisconsin School of Urban Agriculture.”

4.) Provides construction funding for the future “Wisconsin School of Urban Agriculture.”

This package of legislation is supported by The Institute for Urban Agriculture and Nutrition (IUAN) whose members include Growing Power, among schools of higher education. This legislation is also supported by Hunger Task Force, the Milwaukee Food Council, and the Victory Garden Initiative.

Please find attached copies of each bill. To sign on to any or all of the bills, please contact Rep. Goyke at Rep.Goyke@legis.wi.gov or at (6-0645) or Sen. Johnson at (6-2500) or Sen.Johnson@legis.wi.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 9th. Please be specific about what bills you wish to co-sponsor.

Urban Agriculture at DATCP

LRB 2421/1: requires the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to create an office of urban agriculture, located in an urban environment, to promote urban agriculture and assist urban farmers and small businesses involved with urban agriculture.

LRB 2422/1: requires the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, in consultation with the federal Department of Agriculture and the Institute for Urban Agriculture and Nutrition and its member organizations, to develop and promote programs to support urban farming.

The Wisconsin School of Urban Agriculture

LRB 2420/1 – requires the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, in consultation with the Institute for Urban Agriculture and Nutrition and its member organizations, to identify unused and available municipal, county, or state land located in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor in Milwaukee that could be used for a Wisconsin School of Urban Agriculture.

LRB 4312/1 – amends the 2017-19 Authorized State Building Program to add one project for the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The project involves the construction of a Wisconsin School of Urban Agriculture in the City of Milwaukee. The project is financed with $10,000,000 in general fund supported borrowing.

The Bills:

17-4312_1 (2)

17-2422_1 (2)

17-2421_1 (2)

17-2420_1 (2)