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  • July 18, 2019

    Survey Highlights Issues Faced by Wisconsin Farmers

    A recent Wisconsin Farm Bureau Survey reports farmers are now receiving less than 15% of the money consumers spend on groceries. Nancy L. Trueblood talks about the survey and its impact, and urges attorneys to be aware of the perennial – and season-specific – issues faced by their clients who are Wisconsin farmers.

    Nancy L. Trueblood

    Summertime, and the living’s ... not so easy for your clients who earn their living by farming.

    A recent Wisconsin­ Farm Bureau Federation survey found a typical summer cookout for 10 in Wisconsin costs $56.47, just a few cents more than the national level of $56.38. That might be good news for those hosting a cookout with the 14 food items surveyed, but it’s another worrisome sign for farmers.

    Thirty years ago, farmers received nearly one-third of the money consumers spent at grocery stores and restaurants. But even though the retail price of food has increased, farmers now get only about 14.6 percent, reports the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, citing the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    Nancy L. Trueblood Nancy L. Trueblood, Marquette 2001, owns Trueblood Law Firm LLC, Wauwatosa, where she serves small businesses and people with estate planning needs.

    The USDA also says Americans spend about 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food – the lowest average in the world.

    So while cookout hosts may be thrilled to serve cheap fare such as hamburger and hot dogs on buns with condiments, deli potato salad, baked beans, and corn chips – all washed down with pre-mixed lemonade and topped off with watermelon and ice cream – for less than $6 per person, the typical farmer is getting only $8.24 of the $56.47 spent on that grocery bill.

    “With this year’s survey items being slightly updated, we are focusing on comparing national and state food prices,” said Sarah Hetke, the state farm bureau’s director of communications, quoted in the Farm Bureau Survey. “Next summer, we will be able to do a year-over-year comparison for state-specific pricing.”

    Members of Wisconsin Farm Bureau collected price samples of 14 food items in 28 communities across Wisconsin in June to come up with its figures. The July Cookout Survey is part of the national Farm Bureau’s Marketbasket series, which also includes an annual Thanksgiving dinner cost survey.

    It might be helpful to let your farming clients know you understand this seemingly perennial problem. It would be as if lawyers in Wisconsin worked the same number of billable hours every year, but forces beyond their control cut their income by one-third.

    Spring-seeded Crop Filing Deadline Extended

    Meanwhile, your farming clients did get some good news this month, when the federal government extended the filing deadline to report spring-seeded crops to Farm Service Agency offices and crop insurance agents.

    Wisconsin farmers were among those in 12 states granted the extension because of 2019’s unusual weather, which has forced many to delay planting or even re-plant. Just setting up an appointment by July 22 to file acreage reports with FAA county offices signaled compliance, even if the appointment is set for after the deadline.

    Other states granted an extension include Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, and Tennessee.

    The Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Section is offering four scholarships to attend the Wisconsin Solo/Small Firm Conference on Oct. 24-26, 2019. For more information, contact Jane Corkery at

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    Solo/Small Firm & General Practice Blog is published by the Solo/Small Firm & General Practice Section and the State Bar of Wisconsin; blog posts are written by section members. To contribute to this blog, contact Nancy Trueblood and review Author Submission Guidelines. Learn more about the Solo/Small Firm & General Practice Section or become a member.

    Disclaimer: Views presented in blog posts are those of the blog post authors, not necessarily those of the Section or the State Bar of Wisconsin. Due to the rapidly changing nature of law and our reliance on information provided by outside sources, the State Bar of Wisconsin makes no warranty or guarantee concerning the accuracy or completeness of this content.

    © 2023 State Bar of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158.

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