Barnes endorsed by coalition of farmers, releases ag plan

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Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) announces Senate bid in Milwaukee, July 20, 2021

MADISON, Wis. — U.S. Senate candidate and current Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes announced the endorsement of a coalition of farmers as he released a plan Thursday to bolster the state’s agriculture sector.

“Our family farms are the backbone of this state and an integral part of our history, our economy and our communities,” Barnes said in an interview with News 3 Now.

Barnes’ plan would crack down on monopolistic practices and Chinese government-backed firms that buy up farmland.

“There’s still so much more work that we need to do to make sure that the farm bill actually benefits our small family farms instead of big corporate monopolies,” Barnes said. “This plan comes from the conversations that I’ve had traveling across the state over the last few years.”

His plan also includes addressing climate change and its impact on extreme weather events, as well as providing a pathway to citizenship for immigrant farm workers to help address the state’s worker shortage.

If Barnes emerges from the Democratic primary, he will face incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in the fall. Johnson voted against the most recent farm bill in 2018, saying the bill did not reign in a runaway government.

Last month, Johnson pushed to stop a ban on mink farming — an industry with 19 farms in Wisconsin, which once claimed Medford as “Mink Capital of the World.”

Other candidates, including Alex Lasry and Sarah Godlewski, have also released plans for rural Wisconsin ahead of the Aug. 9 primary.