Gov. Evers tours Breitenmoser Family Farms
Dairy Month, Badger Bounceback, redistricting discussed
TINA L. SCOTT
Governor Tony Evers and Senator Brad Pfaff toured Breitenmoser Family Farms on Joe Snow Road in Lincoln County on Wednesday, June 2, as part of his June Dairy Month kick off. Hans Breitenmoser, Jr., showed the Governor around the acreage and barns and gave them the “98 cent tour,” Breitenmoser said. They discussed some serious topics, and some not-so-serious. “My daughter, Abby, was able to introduce her fair cow, Matilda, to the Govermor, which was sort of fun,” he said.
Of more strategic importance, however, Breitenmoser enjoyed the chance to speak to the Governor and the Senator about issues pertaining to farming and to redistricting, issues he is personally invested in. “When we have an opportunity to speak one-on-one with our elected officials, we are silly not to take advantage of that,” he said.
Breintenmoser Family Farms
Breitenmoser Family Farms began when Hans Breitenmoser, Sr., and his wife put down roots in rural Lincoln County, Wisconsin. “My parents moved here from Switzerland in 1968, and then I came along in 1969,” Hans Breitenmoser, Jr. said. The land has been in the family ever since.
Now married with five children, his wife has her own business as a midwife, and his five children [Maggie, age 17; Abby, age 15, Charlie, age 13, Calvin, age 11, and Lilah, age 9] are growing up on the farm and helping with the family business. With about 1,300 acres and 450 cows, the dairy operation has come a long way since his parents’ humble beginning with 20 cows. As such, it now requires about a dozen hired hands, most of whom come from Mexico to work on the farm.
Dairy was and is still the farm’s primary focus. They haven’t diversifed much over the years. “The only cash cropping that we do is just a little bit of soybeans,” Breitenmoser said.
“Family farms like this one are an important part of our history, the backbone of our economy, and will be vital to our bounce back from this pandemic,” Governor Tony Evers said in a post following his tour of the farm. “Thanks to the Breitenmosers for hosting us!”
Breitenmoser said he and the Governor met a couple of years back, so he was pleased when the Governor’s office reached out to tour his family farm.
Budget concerns and Badger Bounceback agenda
Breitenmoser said that during the visit, the Governor spoke about the upcoming proposed budget and how it relates to farming in particular.
“The dairy industry is such an important part of Wisconsin’s economy, and he gets that,” Breitenmoser said.
In his Democratic Radio Address on June 3, Gov. Evers similarly celebrated National Dairy Month while also highlighting his proposed Badger Bounceback Agenda investments as they pertain to Wisconsin’s agricultural economy and farm families.
“This month we’re celebrating June Dairy Month in Wisconsin and if there’s one thing we all know for sure, it’s that they don’t call Wisconsin ‘America’s Dairyland’ for nothing,” he began in his address. “As one of the nation’s top producers of dairy and supplier of more than a quarter of the country’s cheese, no one does dairy quite like us.”
“With more than 1.2 million dairy cows across our state and more than 95% of our dairy farms being family-owned, it’s impossible to go anywhere in Wisconsin and not be reminded how critically important the dairy industry is to our state, our economy, and who we are as Wisconsinites.”
“Our state has relied on the resilience and dedication of our farmers for generations, and that’s why my budget has prioritized helping our farmers and farming industries bounce back.”
The Governor went on to say: “My Badger Bounceback agenda invests more than $43 million in our agricultural economy and farm families. These investments are critically important so that we can work to expand market opportunities, develop new and innovative farming practices, strengthen our agricultural workforce, connect local producers to food banks and pantries, and support farmer mental health and wellbeing.”
“These historic investments will create and fund the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports, boosting export opportunities for our agricultural products. It will also increase support for the Dairy Processor Grant Program and fund the Farm-to-School Grant Program, which can help get fresh, nutritious, and locally-produced foods onto kids’ plates in school cafeterias across Wisconsin.”
“Our agricultural industry is Wisconsin’s past and present, and it will be our future, so this Dairy Month, join me in supporting Wisconsin’s dairy farmers and producers,” Governor Evers concluded in his speech.
In a June 5 post on Governor Tony Evers’ Facebook page, he said, “Family farms are an important part of our state’s culture, history and economy, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on them. As we recover from COVID-19, I’m going to keep doing all I can to ensure they have the support they need to succeed.”
Redistricting was also a topic of discussion
In addition to talking about farming and the budget, Breitenmoser said he spent time talking about another hot topic with the Governor: redistricting. Breitenmoser said it’s critically important and “crucial to getting good government” that redistricting, in addition to being based on Census numbers, is done in a transparent manner and is a “non-partisan procedure that doesn’t take any voter history into consideration.”
“We need to take away any partisanship and bias and get us back to a situation where we’re not so terribly polarized,” Breitenmoser said.
On Jan. 28, 2020, Governor Evers created the People’s Maps Commission (PMC) of Wisconsin, designating that representatives of each district who are not politicians or politically affiliated make up the Commission and hold hearings and otherwise solicit input directly from people across the state of Wisconsin, and that they should then draw up what they consider to be a fair and impartial redistricting map, using the most recent Census numbers, for the State Legislature to consider later in 2021.
Lincoln County currently lies within the 7th Congressional District for the state of Wisconsin. Jason Bisonette of Hayward, Wis., represents the 7th Congressional District on the People’s Maps Commission. Bisonette, the Dean of Students for a small K-12 tribal school on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Reservation and the Board Chair for the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College, is the person with whom Lincoln County residents should share their concerns, ideas, issues, and opinions with regard to a proposed redistricting map to be submitted by the PMC. A public meeting to accept input from members of the 7th Congressional District was held this past Jan. 28, 2021. Interested parties can watch a recording of that meeting online at: https://youtu.be/RIOdGL7zDzs. However, written comments are still being accepted at: https://appengine.egov.com/apps/wi/peoplesmaps/writtencomment.
“I’m a big fan of the People’s Maps Commission,” Breitenmoser said. “This gives us an opportunity to have a system that looks more like Iowa’s system, a system that has been working since 1983.” He said Iowa adopted a non-partisan procedure for drawing district lines and hasn’t had a lawsuit since, whereas Wisconsin has wasted countless dollars of taxpayer money in lawsuits pertaining to redistricting.
The PMC is currently in the process of creating those proposed maps – three of them actually. Using the most recent U.S. Census data, as soon as it is available, the proposed redistricting maps will be drawn for election of congressional seats, state senate seats, and state assembly seats, based on the population distribution, or apportionment, of the Census. This apportionment of people throughout the state and these redistricting lines will also determine how funds are prioritized and distributed for roads and bridges, schools, healthcare systems, and other government resources.
It is not yet known when the maps will be completed and submitted to the State Legislature for review.
Final thoughts from the Governor
“It’s nearly impossible to go anywhere in Wisconsin without being reminded of the critical role family farms like the Breitenmoser’s play in our state’s success,” Governor Evers said in a follow-up email. “Wisconsin’s agricultural economy has been the backbone of our state for generations, and it’s part of our future and bouncing back from this pandemic, too. I’m proud our Badger Bounceback agenda made historic investments in support of our farmers, their families, rural communities, and agricultural industries across our state.”