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Wisconsin's U.S. senators help approve new ag budget

Wisconsin's two U.S. senators helped approve a new agriculture budget that includes $350 million in emergency aid for struggling dairy farmers.

The Senate sent the $121 billion ag budget to President Obama Thursday on a 76-22 vote.

Wisconsin Democrats Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold both voted yes.

Kohl helped negotiate the dairy aid, in which $290 million will go directly to farmers and $60 million will buy their dairy products to feed the hungry.

Kohl said he trusted that Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack will put the new aid in the right hands.

After meeting with California Democrat Barbara Boxer, Vilsack promised the aid would be distributed equitably - which means that larger herds in the West will get the same share as the smaller family farms typically found in Wisconsin.

Also yesterday, a bi-partisan group of lawmakers called on Vilsack to spread more payments from the Milk Income Loss Contract program to larger herds. Wisconsin's smaller farms have gotten the most from that program, which gives federal subsidies when market prices fall below certain levels.