Reps in the News: April 10-17

Senator Tammy Baldwin

With the coronavirus pandemic threatening Wisconsin’s agriculture economy, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin led seven bipartisan members of the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation in calling on U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to take immediate action on behalf of Wisconsin dairy farmers and dairy-processing businesses.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, Wisconsin dairy farmers have been forced to dispose of thousands of gallons of fresh milk each day as the demand for dairy products used in schools, restaurants and food service has rapidly switched to almost entirely at-home consumption. This puts an enormous economic strain on all parts of the dairy industry, from farms to processing plants to warehouses. Markets had already been difficult for farmers prior to the coronavirus outbreak, and Wisconsin has lost more than 2,000 dairy farms since early 2017.

In their letter, the members wrote, “Wisconsin’s dairy and agriculture economy is in crisis, and we write to ask for your immediate attention and aid. Supply-chain disruptions are cascading through communities across the state, putting dairy farmers and dairy processors at immediate risk of layoffs and closure. Our dairy industry was already in a precarious situation after several challenging years and uncertainty in dairy markets. Coronavirus-related changes in consumer purchasing have caused rapid shifts in demand. Although these changes in consumer demand are temporary, without immediate action, they could have a permanent effect in causing the closure of hundreds and possibly thousands of farms, rural businesses and food processors. Wisconsin needs your help.”

Source: Baldwin press release

Senator Ron Johnson

Sen. Ron Johnson wrote the following opinion piece for USA Today regarding the coronavirus pandemic:

“I’m not aware of any public official, including President Donald Trump, who is calling for a complete opening of the U.S. economy. What more people are saying is that as we learn more about COVID-19, we should evaluate the total societal cost of this awful disease and try to put things into perspective.

“Each year, approximately 48,000 Americans commit suicide, and an estimated 67,000 die of a drug overdose. That level of individual despair has occurred in a strong economy with near-record-low levels of unemployment in virtually every demographic.

“Imagine the potential psychological and human toll if this shutdown continues indefinitely; unemployment reaches 20 percent or higher, as some now predict; and we sink into a deep recession or depression. The U.S. Senate just passed a $2 trillion coronavirus-relief bill in a less-than-perfect attempt to mitigate some of the economic fallout.

In addition to the current human toll, future generations will be required to pick up that tab.

“Every premature death is a tragedy, but death is an unavoidable part of life. More than 2.8 million die each year – nearly 7,700 a day. The 2017-18 flu season was exceptionally bad, with 61,000 deaths attributed to it. Can you imagine the panic if those mortality statistics were attributed to a new virus and reported nonstop?

“Social-distancing policies make sense because no one wants to overwhelm our health-care system to the point of failure. Social distancing should continue until this outbreak is under control.

Nonetheless, much of our economy must stay open to provide life’s basic necessities. Rather than announcing general shutdowns and drawing up lists of ‘essential’ businesses that can remain open, let’s draw up lists of ‘nonessential’ businesses that pose a risk for coronavirus spread.

“A commonsense approach would be to keep those shut down and to provide financial support to their employees, and the businesses or organizations themselves, so they can reopen and rehire when the threat subsides.”Source: USA Today