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Plan 7: Strengthen Rural Wisconsin

Summary

Mark Neumann's first job was working on a farm in Mukwonago. His wife, Sue, grew up on a farm. They understand firsthand the importance that farming and agriculture have not only for the state's economy, but also for Wisconsin's very character and culture.

Mark Neumann learned conservative values working on a farm as his first job.


Neumann's first job was on a farm. He understands that farming and agriculture are more than just an important of the state's economy; they are an important part of Wisconsin's character and culture.

Wisconsin's farming and agricultural community is responsible for creating over 350,000 jobs and generating over $59 billion in revenue for the state.1 Small businesses and jobs in rural Wisconsin are important and often overlooked.

According to 2009 estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Resource Service, those living in rural Wisconsin make up almost 27% of the state's population.2 It is essential that distinctions are made between Wisconsin's farming and small businesses in rural communities, and a greater effort needs to be made in ensuring that rural Wisconsinites are able to have the same opportunities for job growth and personal advancement opportunities as many of our state's more populated areas.

Promote Business Development in Rural Areas

Mark Neumann will actively work with local leaders in agriculture and business to promote business expansion and development opportunities in rural Wisconsin. The Neumann Administration will also ensure that small-business owners and could-be entrepreneurs have access to the resources necessary to incorporate and operate a business in Wisconsin.

Expand Access to Broadband Internet

Neumann will actively work with the private sector to expand access to broadband internet across the state and upgrade existing broadband connections to close the digital divide.

Education: Local Control & Accountability

Education in rural areas is becoming an increasing challenge, as parents correctly demand excellence in their schools at the same time the funding from the state is being reduced dramatically. A Neumann Administration would ask that all students receiving public funding for their education take a standardized national test with national norms available so as to be able to measure academic growth. This will increase accountability in the schools.

Politicians in Madison should not control rural school districts.

A Neumann Administration will return control of the education system to the local parents and school boards. Too much money is being spent on bureaucracy and not enough actually in the classroom educating our children. This would change under the education plan written by Neumann. Costs would come down in rural areas as mandates from Madison are eliminated.

Stand up for Wisconsin Farmers — Support Use Value Assessment

Neumann will work with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, other state agencies, and the Wisconsin State Legislature, to make sure that Wisconsin's agriculture community has a seat at the table. Neumann will support Right to Farm3 laws, and remain a strong advocate of Use Value Assessment,4 ensuring that Wisconsin's farms can stay where they have been for generations, even if their surrounding community changes. Neumann will also work with leaders from the agriculture industry to promote a legislative agenda that will result in Wisconsin leading the nation in this sector.

Current Situation

Rural Wisconsinites at Technical Disadvantage

We can close the digital divide between urban and rural Wisconsin by expanding and upgrading our broadband infrastructure.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture Research Service in 2007, only 55 to 65% of homes in rural Wisconsin had internet access.5 According to industry figures, statewide, approximately 80% of all Wisconsinites have access to broadband internet. While Wisconsin federal funding was earmarked for rural broadband internet in Wisconsin, as of July 7, 2010, only the city of Reedsburg and the counties of Marquette and Adams have been approved for federal funding.6 As the September 30th deadline draws near, it's likely that many broadband projects in Wisconsin will not be funded by the federal government. The Neumann Administration will be working with the private sector to develop economically viable plans to improve internet access.

Mark Neumann's Plan

Make Rural Wisconsin More Economically Competitive

Neumann will make rural Wisconsin more economically competitive by ensuring that those who live in those areas have the same opportunities for advancement and job creation as those in the non-rural parts of the state.

Improve Rural Telecommunications Infrastructure

Neumann will work with the private sector to have a goal of 95% high-speed internet coverage in rural Wisconsin. Mark Neumann supports competition among service providers to increase innovation and competitive pricing, and to provide consumers with choices. With improved telecommunications, rural Wisconsin will not only be more attractive for new business, it will also improve education, expand opportunities for health IT, and improve overall quality of life.

Improve Rural Access to Educational Opportunities

To ensure that all Wisconsinites, regardless of where they live have access to quality education, the Neumann Administration will work to grow and improve Wisconsin's virtual schools. Furthermore, to help reduce the unemployment rate, the Neumann Administration will actively encourage the UW-System to expand their online course offerings, as well as hybrid learning opportunities, giving adults in these areas the ability to become proficient in new areas as their local economies change. Neumann will also work to promote institutions of higher education in rural areas to attract students and provide opportunities. Neumann's plan to create Research Triangles will connect students, businesses, and schools to make Wisconsin companies more competitive. For more information on the Research Triangles, please see Mark Neumann's plan to CREATE 300,000 JOBS.

Actively Promote Rural Wisconsin

Neumann believes rural Wisconsin is one of our state's great hidden gems, but that it is too often overlooked. To ensure that rural Wisconsin isn't forgotten, a Neumann Administration will actively promote these parts of the state.

Promote Business Development Opportunities in Rural Wisconsin

A Neumann Administration will actively work to promote interested rural communities to business leaders who would benefit from relocating or starting new companies in Wisconsin. Colleges, Universities, and Tech Schools all around Wisconsin — not just in the big cities — will be targeted for Research Triangle opportunities. See Mark Neumann's plan to CREATE 300,000 JOBS for details.

Stand up for Wisconsin Farmers

Neumann will work with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, other state agencies, and the Wisconsin State Legislature, to make sure that Wisconsin's agriculture community has a seat at the table. Neumann will support Right to Farm3 laws, and remain a strong advocate of Use Value Assessment,4 ensuring that Wisconsin's farms can stay where they have been for generations, even if their surrounding community changes. Neumann will also work with leaders from the agriculture industry to promote a legislative agenda that will result in Wisconsin leading the nation in this sector.

Support Right to Farm and Use Value Assessment

Mark Neumann supports "right to farm" laws. He recognizes that a farm that has been in place for years, perhaps even generations, has the right to continue farming even if the community around it changes.

The Neumann Administration will support "use value assessment" which allow for farm lands to be taxed based on its value for farming rather than its potential value as development property.

Provide Support in Madison

The Natural Resources Board should have members with an agricultural background and who have had hunting, fishing, or trapping licenses.

Mark Neumann will require that at least one member of the Natural Resources Board has an agriculture background and that multiple members of the NRB have held a hunting, fishing, or trapping license in Wisconsin in at least seven of the last ten years. These are important steps to keep the NRB from falling out of touch.

Allow Bio-Energy to Compete

Wisconsin has 22 on-farm bio-energy systems in operation and likely more on the way that convert manure into renewable energy.8 Mark Neumann will remove rules, regulations, and mandates in the energy sector to allow the bio-energy industry to fairly compete with other energy solutions. Neumann is a strong proponent of free competition, and is confident that the best energy source will be organically adopted by the market.


1 Wisconsin Ag Industry Reaches $59 Billion, The Business Journal of Milwaukee, Aug. 6, 2009, available at http://milwaukee.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/2009/08/03/daily84.html.

2 State Fact Sheets: Wisconsin, United States Department of Agriculture: Economic Research Service, last updated July 1, 2010, http://www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/WI.htm (1,521,252 people in rural areas compared to 5,654,774 total Wisconsin citizens).

3 The "Right to Farm" statute directs the courts, under specific conditions, to favor agriculture in certain legal disputes over agricultural uses of land. Mark C. Patronsky, Legal Memorandum No. LM-2000-12: Wisconsin's Right-to-Farm Law, Wisconsin Legislative Council, Aug. 16, 2000, available at http://libcd.law.wisc.edu/~wilc/lm/lm_2000_12.pdf.

4 "Use Value Assessment" taxes farmland on its value for farming, not on its potential "market value" for development or recreational use. Laura Paine & Mark Kopecky, Use Value Assessment of Farmland, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Sept. 30, 2005, available at http://www.wfbf.com/archivej/htmArchive/showPage.aspx?id=15062&page=15062.htm.

5 Rural Digital Economy: Where, United States Department of Agriculture: Economic Research Service, http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Telecom/distributionservices.htm (Rural Home Internet Access, 2007 chart).

6 Rick Barrett, Rural Broadband Efforts Yield Some Hits, Many Misses, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 7, 2010, available at http://www.jsonline.com/business/97990899.html.

7 Wisconsin Ag Industry Reaches $59 Billion, The Business Journal of Milwaukee, Aug. 6, 2009, available at http://milwaukee.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/2009/08/03/daily84.html.

8 Wisconsin DBA: Dairy Growth Planned, DairyBusiness, June 10, 2008, http://dairywebmall.com/dbcpress/?p=53.


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