What a hyper-partisan political world spells for dairy policy
Political uncertainties pose concerns for the dairy industry
The politics we’re experiencing in today’s world are nothing like what our parents’ and grandparents’ generations lived through. The days of bi-partisanship, compromise and polite regard for differing viewpoints are gone.
The new reality is that whichever political party controls a legislative chamber also controls all legislation and determines which bills are scheduled for public hearings and voted on. The minority party is basically left standing on the sidelines.
One must be cognizant of the fact that everything that will occur in the political world in the next one and a half years is solely focused on the 2020 elections. Our elected leaders currently have a myopic vision on November 2020, and everything they do between now and then will be designed to garner favorable impressions for their party’s loyalists and energize their electorate.
In Washington, D.C., this has been playing out on a daily basis since the Democrats seized control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Their agenda in the next 17 months is to do everything they can to denigrate President Trump and thwart his political agenda. On the other side, President Trump and GOP leaders will deride the Democrats and utilize just as much name-calling and political shenanigans as the Democrats.
Impacts at the state level
In Wisconsin, political jousting certainly affects our state’s citizens. It also influences how our association conducts its lobbying efforts; we are cognizant that it is usually futile to back any proposed legislation introduced by a Democrat since Republicans control both legislative chambers. The odds of the minority party getting one of its bills passed are slim to none.
This dichotomous political environment is clearly exhibited in our current biennial budget process. Newly elected Gov. Tony Evers (Democrat) submitted his proposed two-year budget earlier this year. The Senate and Assembly Republicans summarily rejected the budget and decided to write their own.
How things will play out when the legislature hands the governor its budget is anyone’s guess, especially since the governor of Wisconsin has some of the strongest budget veto powers in the nation.
Our association is also dealing with political discrepancies between the governor’s office and the Republican legislature when it comes to environmental issues such as phosphorous discharge. Wisconsin has some of the strictest clean water regulations in the country.
Under the Obama administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tried to ratchet up the pressure on water and environmental regulations in our state. During those years, Wisconsin had a Republican governor who tried hard to support businesses by circumventing these stricter rules.
However, in 2019, the roles are reversed. We have a Republican president who is making changes at the EPA, and in Wisconsin, a Democrat governor is trying to increase water regulations. Where this tug of war eventually winds up is anyone’s guess.
Another political uncertainty for our association is whether the new governor will accept the 49 recommendations developed by the Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0. This committee was created last year by a Republican governor to explore ways to improve our state’s dairy industry. The task force has discovered some significant possibilities for our industry, but the governor’s acceptance would bring credit to the Republican who formerly held his office.
In addition to the task force’s recommendations, will the governor support the newly introduced legislation, written by a Republican senator, to form a dairy innovation hub that would spur on dairy research and development in Wisconsin?
Politics have changed — in my opinion, for the worse. If you’re a political junkie, maybe you love this new hyper-partisan era. However, if you’re like most people, you’ll have to learn to mute out the constant din of politics wafting throughout society.