Evers says plan for $1.9B in federal funds to come in ‘next day or two’

Governor says part of money will go toward helping dairy, agriculture

Gov. Tony Evers said Tuesday he plans to release a plan for the $1.9 billion given to the state of Wisconsin in the federal CARES Act in the “next day or two.”

Evers told listeners on a Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin web program he plans to use some of the money to help out the struggling dairy and other agriculture industries.

Most, if not all, the agriculture commodity markets in Wisconsin are worried about multimillion dollar losses because of the coronavirus. In a letter to Evers last month, those in dairy wrote they lost $66 million in revenue in February and March, and they expect hundreds of millions of dollars lost for the year.

To help cushion that, in the same letter they asked Evers for $50 million in direct cash relief from the money the federal government gave to the state.

On Tuesday Evers wouldn’t say a specific dollar amount, but he said he and his administration are just days away from releasing their plan.

“It’s based on need,” he said. “Dairy and agriculture have been ‘needy’ around issues surrounding their wellbeing before this pandemic, so that would be possibly a higher priority than some other areas.”

Evers said money will also have to go to increased testing and contact tracing efforts, which he said will help the state handle any surge in cases.

Dairy’s need is great, however, and the executive director of Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin pressed Evers on how the state can help.

“Dairy feels like we’re bleeding from arteries, and when you’re bleeding from an artery, Band-Aids don’t stop the bleeding,” said Shelly Mayer. “How do we think of this and how do we address it?”

Evers said it agriculture is a state and federal issue, and since the federal government has the ability to borrow money, it should help where the state reaches its limit.

“I’m not an advocate of deficit spending, but when we’re in a situation such as this, there ain’t much other choice,” he said.