Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill requires the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer
Protection to establish a program for the Higher Educational Aids Board to
reimburse beginning farmers for their higher educational debt, except for debt that
is reimbursed, assumed, or paid for under any other public or private program. The
bill defines “beginning farmer” as an individual who satisfies all of the following: 1)
manages a farm or a component of a farm in this state as his or her primary
occupation; 2) has produced farm products for no more than ten consecutive years;
and 3) at the time he or she first applies for reimbursement, has an annual adjusted
gross income that is not more than 500 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
To obtain reimbursement from HEAB, the bill requires an individual to apply
to the Beginning Farmer Higher Education Debt Council, which is created in
DATCP. The council consists of the secretary of agriculture, trade and consumer
protection or his or her designee and the dean and director of the UW-Madison
division of extension or his or her designee. The secretary appoints the following
other members for three-year terms: 1) an individual who administers or

participates or cooperates in programs of the Farm Service Agency of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture; 2) a representative of agricultural lenders; and 3) a
representative of higher education loan providers or servicers. The council must
advise HEAB on carrying out its duties and promulgating rules under the bill.
DATCP is required to provide administrative support to the council.
To be eligible for reimbursement, an individual must be a state resident who is
a beginning farmer as defined above. In addition, the individual must intend to
manage a farm or component of a farm in this state as his or her primary occupation
for at least five years after applying for reimbursement. Also, the individual must
have completed one of the following educational requirements: 1) graduated from an
accredited public or nonprofit institution with an associate or baccalaureate degree;
2) completed a farm and industry short course offered by the University of Wisconsin
System; or 3) obtained a technical college diploma or certificate in agriculture or a
field related to agriculture. The council must advise HEAB on whether an applicant
is eligible for reimbursement. If there are insufficient funds to make payments to
all eligible applicants, the council must advise HEAB to give priority to applicants
in specified categories, including financial need, likelihood to successfully continue
farming in this state, progress toward farm ownership, and use of sustainable best
practices.
The bill requires HEAB to enter into reimbursement agreements with eligible
individuals. An agreement must express an individual's commitment to pursue a
long-term career in farming in this state and to make a good faith effort to comply
with the requirements of the program. An individual must also agree to annually
submit documentation to HEAB showing that the individual continues to be a state
resident who is managing a farm or a component of a farm in this state as his or her
primary occupation. The documentation must also show that in the preceding year
the individual has made all required payments on outstanding higher education debt
in amounts not less than amounts reimbursed under the program. The individual
must also agree to notify HEAB within 60 days if he or she ceases to be a state
resident or ceases to manage a farm or farm component in this state as his or her
primary occupation. The agreement must also describe the grounds for terminating
an agreement, which are described below, and the penalties for intentionally
providing false information to HEAB or the council, which are a civil forfeiture of no
more than $500, and, for individuals with agreements with HEAB, liability under
the clawback provision described below.
The bill requires HEAB to make five annual payments of equal amounts to
individuals who satisfy the bill's requirements. HEAB must make the first payment
as soon as practicable after entering into the agreement and the subsequent
payments annually thereafter after receiving the documentation described above.
The total amount of payments over five years is $30,000, which is adjusted for
inflation, or the total amount of an individual's outstanding higher education debt,
whichever is less. The bill appropriates the following maximum amounts for the
program: in fiscal year 2019-20, $120,000; in fiscal year 2020-21, $240,000; in fiscal
year 2021-22, $360,000; in fiscal year 2022-23, $480,000; and in fiscal year 2023-24

and each fiscal year thereafter, $600,000. The Department of Administration must
adjust the foregoing amounts based on inflation.
The bill specifies four grounds for terminating agreements. First, if an
individual ceases to be a state resident or ceases to manage a farm or component of
a farm in this state as his or her primary occupation, the agreement and payments
terminate, except as provided in rules that HEAB must promulgate. Under those
rules, an individual's agreement is suspended, instead of terminated, if, due to
circumstances beyond the individual's control, including deployment in the U.S.
armed forces or national guard, the individual ceases to be a state resident or ceases
engaging in the required farm management. The rules must provide for suspending
the payments until an individual resumes state residency or engaging in the
required farm management. Second, an agreement terminates if an individual fails
to submit the required annual documentation by a due date determined by HEAB.
However, the bill allows HEAB, at its discretion, to grant an extension for submitting
the documentation. The bill allows an individual whose agreement is terminated on
this basis to reapply for reimbursement under the program. If an individual's
agreement terminates under the first or second grounds, he or she is liable to HEAB
under a clawback provision for a portion of his or her most recent annual payment
that corresponds to the portion of the year that the agreement is no longer in effect.
For example, for termination under the first ground, the liability corresponds to the
portion of the year the individual was no longer a state resident or did not engage in
farming.
Third, if an individual intentionally provides false information to HEAB or the
council, HEAB must terminate the agreement and the individual is liable to HEAB
under a clawback provision for the total amount of payments made to the individual
at a 10 percent interest rate. Fourth, if an individual fails to comply with a
requirement in an agreement to notify HEAB within 60 days of ceasing to be a state
resident or ceasing the required farm management activities, HEAB must terminate
the agreement and the individual is liable to HEAB for the most recent payment
received at a 5 percent interest rate.
The bill also does the following:
1. Provides that no more than 30 percent of the amount appropriated for the
program in a fiscal year may be used to reimburse individuals who completed a farm
and industry short course or obtained the technical college diploma or certificate
described above.
2. To the extent funding is available in a fiscal year, allows HEAB to make total
annual payments that are less then $30,000 to additional eligible individuals.
3. Creates an individual income tax subtract modification (deduction) for
payments made to an individual under the bill. The deduction first applies to taxable
years beginning after December 31, 2018.
4. Requires the Legislative Audit Bureau to evaluate the effectiveness of the
program and, no later than July 1, 2026, and every ten years thereafter, submit a
report to the legislature regarding its evaluation.

Because this bill relates to an exemption from state or local taxes, it may be
referred to the Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions for a report to be printed
as an appendix to the bill.
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
AB519,1 1Section 1. 15.137 (7) of the statutes is created to read:
AB519,4,82 15.137 (7) Beginning farmer higher education debt council. There is created
3in the department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection a beginning farmer
4higher education debt council consisting of the secretary of agriculture, trade and
5consumer protection or his or her designee, the dean and director of the University
6of Wisconsin-Madison division of extension or his or her designee, and the following
7members appointed by the secretary of agriculture, trade and consumer protection
8for 3-year terms:
AB519,4,119 (a) An individual who administers or participates or cooperates in programs
10of the farm service agency of the U.S. department of agriculture. The secretary may
11consult with the farm service agency in making the appointment.
AB519,4,1212 (b) An individual representing agricultural lenders.
AB519,4,1313 (c) An individual representing higher education loan providers or servicers.
AB519,2 14Section 2. 20.235 (1) (em) of the statutes is created to read:
AB519,5,215 20.235 (1) (em) Beginning farmers. A sum sufficient to make reimbursement
16payments to beginning farmers under the program under s. 39.52. Subject to s. 39.52
17(6), the amount appropriated under this paragraph in fiscal year 2019-20 may not
18exceed $120,000, in fiscal year 2020-21 may not exceed $240,000, in fiscal year

12021-22 may not exceed $360,000, in fiscal year 2022-23 may not exceed $480,000,
2and in fiscal year 2023-24 and each fiscal year thereafter may not exceed $600,000.
AB519,3 3Section 3. 39.52 of the statutes is created to read:
AB519,5,18 439.52 Beginning farmers. (1) Findings. The legislature finds that farming
5is central to this state's traditions and economy and essential for feeding residents
6of this state and beyond. The legislature also finds that as the population of farmers
7ages, this state faces a challenge recruiting and retaining beginning farmers. The
8legislature believes that higher education debt is a significant barrier for beginning
9farmers who work towards economic viability during the early years of their careers.
10The legislature therefore finds it in the best interest of the state to establish a
11program to provide financial assistance to beginning farmers carrying student debt
12in their first years of farming in exchange for a commitment to farming in this state.
13The purpose of the program is to recruit and retain beginning farmers of diverse
14backgrounds who have completed postsecondary education, regardless of field of
15study, previous state residency, or background in agriculture, and who are committed
16to a career of farming in Wisconsin, in order to sustain this state's farmers, family
17farms, and agricultural economy while fostering innovation in sustainable best
18practices.
AB519,5,19 19(2) Definitions. In this section:
AB519,5,2520 (a) “Beginning farmer” means an individual who manages a farm or a
21component of a farm in this state as his or her primary occupation, has produced farm
22products, as defined in s. 93.01 (5), for no more than 10 consecutive years, and has
23an annual adjusted gross income of not more than 500 percent of the federal poverty
24guidelines at the time the individual first applies for reimbursement payments
25under this section.
AB519,6,1
1(b) “Council" means the beginning farmer higher education debt council.
AB519,6,32 (c) “Department” means the department of agriculture, trade and consumer
3protection.
AB519,6,94 (d) “Higher education debt" means debt, including interest, incurred in pursuit
5of a certificate, diploma, or degree from an institution of higher education or to
6complete a farm and industry short course offered by the University of Wisconsin
7System, but does not include any debt reimbursed, assumed, or otherwise paid for
8under any public or private program other than the program established under sub.
9(3).
AB519,6,1310 (e) “Institution of higher education" means a nonprofit or public educational
11institution that awards an associate or baccalaureate degree and that is accredited
12by an accrediting agency that is recognized by the secretary of the federal
13department of education.
AB519,6,16 14(3) Reimbursement program; eligibility. (a) The department shall establish
15a program for the board to reimburse the higher education debt under sub. (5) or (9)
16(b) of an individual who applies to the council and satisfies all of the following:
AB519,6,1717 1. The individual is a beginning farmer and state resident.
AB519,6,1818 2. The individual satisfies one of the following:
AB519,6,2019 a. The individual has graduated from an institution of higher education with
20an associate or baccalaureate degree.
AB519,6,2221 b. The individual has completed a farm and industry short course offered by
22the University of Wisconsin System.
AB519,6,2423 c. The individual has obtained a technical college diploma or certificate in
24agriculture or a field related to agriculture from an institution of higher education.
AB519,7,3
13. The individual intends to manage a farm or component of a farm in this state
2as his or her primary occupation for at least 5 years after applying to the council for
3reimbursement.
AB519,7,54 (b) The program established under par. (a) shall allow an individual to apply
5for reimbursement prior to satisfying the requirement under par. (a) 2.
AB519,7,8 6(4) Agreements. (a) The board shall enter into an agreement for making
7payments under sub. (5) or (9) (b) to an individual who satisfies the requirements
8under sub. (3).
AB519,7,99 (b) An agreement under par. (a) shall do all of the following:
AB519,7,1310 1. Express the individual's commitment to pursue a long-term career in
11farming in this state and to make a good faith effort to comply with the requirements
12of this section during the 5-year period in which the individual receives payments
13under sub. (5) or (9) (b).
AB519,7,1914 2. Require the individual to annually submit documentation showing to the
15board's satisfaction that the individual continues to be a state resident who is
16managing a farm or a component of a farm in this state as his or her primary
17occupation and that the individual has in the preceding year made payments to the
18individual's outstanding higher education debt in an amount no less than the
19amount of the preceding year's reimbursement payment under sub. (5).
AB519,7,2120 3. Except as otherwise provided in this section, require the board to make
21annual payments under sub. (5).
AB519,7,2422 4. Require the individual to notify the board within 60 days if the individual
23ceases to be a state resident or ceases to manage a farm or a component of a farm in
24this state as his or her primary occupation.
AB519,8,2
15. Require the individual to provide the board with any information the board
2determines is necessary for administering this section.
AB519,8,33 6. Identify the higher education debt to be reimbursed.
AB519,8,54 7. Describe the grounds for terminating the agreement and an individual's
5liability to the board upon termination.
AB519,8,76 8. Identify the penalty under sub. (10) (a) and (b) 1. for intentionally providing
7false information to the board or council.
AB519,8,14 8(5) Reimbursement payments. Except as otherwise provided in this section, for
9each individual with whom the board enters into an agreement under sub. (4) (a), the
10board shall make 5 annual payments of equal amounts to the individual that in total
11equal the total amount of the individual's outstanding higher education debts, or
12$30,000, whichever is less. The board shall make the first payment as soon as
13practicable after entering into the agreement and the subsequent payments
14annually thereafter upon receipt of the documentation required under sub. (4) (b) 2.
AB519,8,19 15(6) Adjustments. The department of administration shall annually on July 1
16adjust the amounts appropriated under s. 20.235 (1) (em) and the amount specified
17in sub. (5) to reflect any changes in the U.S. consumer price index for all urban
18consumers, U.S. city average, as determined by the U.S. department of labor, for the
1912-month period ending on the preceding December 31.
AB519,8,22 20(7) Limits. In a fiscal year, no more than 30 percent of the amount appropriated
21under s. 20.235 (1) (em) for the fiscal year may be used to make payments under subs.
22(5) and (9) (b) to individuals who satisfy sub. (3) (a) 2. b. or c.
AB519,9,2 23(8) Termination; suspension. (a) Grounds. 1. Except as provided in par. (c),
24on the date that an individual ceases to be a state resident or manage a farm or
25component of a farm in this state as his or her primary occupation, the board shall

1terminate the individual's agreement under sub. (4) (a) on that date and the
2individual is not eligible to receive any remaining payments under the agreement.
AB519,9,93 2. If an individual fails to annually submit documentation to the board as
4required under sub. (4) (b) 2. by a due date determined by the board, the board shall
5terminate the individual's agreement under sub. (4) (a) and the individual is not
6eligible to receive any remaining payments under the agreement, unless the board
7at its discretion grants the individual an extension for submitting the required
8documentation. An individual whose agreement is terminated under this
9subdivision may reapply for reimbursement under sub. (3).
AB519,9,1510 (b) Clawback. Upon termination of an agreement under par. (a), an individual
11is liable to the board for an amount equal to the product obtained by multiplying the
12amount of the most recent annual payment received by the individual under sub. (5)
13or (9) (b) by a fraction in which the denominator is 365 and the numerator is the
14number of days after the termination date that remain in the year immediately
15following the most recent annual payment.
AB519,9,2116 (c) Suspension. The board shall promulgate rules that allow for suspension of
17an individual's agreement under sub. (4) (a) if, due to circumstances beyond the
18individual's control, the individual ceases to be a state resident or ceases to manage
19a farm or component of a farm in this state as his or her primary occupation for a
20limited period. The circumstances shall include deployment in the U.S. armed
21services or national guard. The rules shall provide for each of the following:
AB519,9,2322 1. Suspending payments during the period the individual ceases to be a state
23resident and reinstituting payments when the individual is a state resident.
AB519,9,2524 2. Suspending payments during the period the individual ceases managing a
25farm or component of a farm in this state as his or her primary occupation and

1reinstituting payments when the individual resumes managing a farm or component
2of a farm in this state as his or her primary occupation.
AB519,10,7 3(9) Applicants; funding. (a) The council shall advise the board whether an
4applicant for reimbursement payments satisfies the requirements under sub. (3). If
5there is not sufficient funding to make reimbursement payments to all applicants for
6reimbursement, the council shall advise the board to give priority to applicants
7under the following categories:
AB519,10,88 1. Applicants with the greatest financial need.
AB519,10,129 2. Applicants who are most likely to successfully continue managing a farm or
10a component of a farm in this state based on factors including an applicant's interest
11in a farming career, demonstrated training and experience, farm business plan, and
12relationship with a mentor.
AB519,10,1313 3. Applicants who own or who are working toward ownership of a farm.
AB519,10,1714 4. Applicants who manage a farm or component of a farm that employs
15sustainable best practices for farming that are identified in the list of approved
16conservation enhancements and practices under the Conservation Stewardship
17Program of the U.S. department of agriculture.
AB519,10,1918 5. Applicants who are members of groups that are underrepresented in farming
19in this state.
AB519,11,220 (b) If funding is available due to agreement terminations under sub. (8) (a) or
21(10) (b), or if funding is available because the total amount of grants made by the
22board under sub. (5) in a fiscal year does not exceed the limit specified in s. 20.235
23(1) (em), the council shall advise the board of other individuals who are eligible for
24reimbursement under sub. (3). Based on the amount of funding that is available, the

1board may make payments to eligible individuals for a total amount that is less than
2the amount required under sub. (5).
AB519,11,5 3(10) Penalties. (a) Forfeiture. Any individual who intentionally provides false
4information to the board or council under this section may be required to forfeit no
5more than $500.
AB519,11,116 (b) Clawback. 1. If an individual with whom the board has entered into an
7agreement under sub. (4) (a) intentionally provides false information to the board or
8council under this section, the board shall terminate the agreement and the
9individual is liable to the board for the total amount of payments made to the
10individual under sub. (5) together with interest at the rate of 10 percent per year from
11the date of the payments.
AB519,11,1612 2. If an individual with whom the board has entered into an agreement under
13sub. (4) (a) fails to comply with a requirement under sub. (4) (b) 4., the board shall
14terminate the agreement and the individual is liable to the board for the most recent
15payment made to the individual under sub. (5) together with interest at the rate of
165 percent per year from the date of the payment.
AB519,11,18 17(11) Rules. The board and department may promulgate rules to carry out their
18respective duties under this section.
AB519,11,21 19(12) Council. The council shall advise the board on carrying out the board's
20duties and promulgating rules under this section. The department shall provide
21administrative support to the council.
AB519,12,4 22(13) Audits. The legislative audit bureau shall evaluate the effectiveness of the
23program established under this section in accomplishing the purposes specified in
24sub. (1). No later than July 1, 2026, and every 10 years thereafter, the legislative
25audit bureau shall submit a report of its evaluation to the chief clerk of each house

1of the legislature for distribution to the appropriate standing committees under s.
213.172 (3). The report shall include the legislative audit bureau's recommendations
3on terminating, continuing, revising, or expanding the program, including any
4recommendations regarding funding the program.
AB519,4 5Section 4. 71.05 (6) (a) 30. of the statutes is created to read:
AB519,12,86 71.05 (6) (a) 30. The amount of student loan interest taken as a deduction under
7section 221 of the Internal Revenue Code, to the extent student loan interest was
8reimbursed under s. 39.52 and subtracted under par. (b) 54.
AB519,5 9Section 5. 71.05 (6) (b) 54. of the statutes is created to read:
AB519,12,1110 71.05 (6) (b) 54. For taxable years beginning after December 31, 2018, any
11amount received by an individual under the program under s. 39.52.
AB519,6 12Section 6. Nonstatutory provisions.
AB519,12,1813 (1) Initial council members. Notwithstanding the length of term for certain
14members of the beginning farmer higher education debt council that is specified in
15s. 15.137 (7) (intro.), the initial member appointed under s. 15.137 (7) (a) shall have
16a term expiring on July 1, 2021, the initial member appointed under s. 15.137 (7) (b)
17shall have a term expiring on July 1, 2022, and the initial member appointed under
18s. 15.137 (7) (c) shall have a term expiring on July 1, 2023.
AB519,12,1919 (End)
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