The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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Truth and Taxes

How often do we feel a certain way about an issue without knowing if it’s actually true?

Wisconsinites elected a governor and state legislature, in part, on the pledge of “lowering taxes.” Yet it seemed to me Wisconsin taxes were unreasonably high.  Out of curiosity I did an internet search, which, if I’m reading these charts right, confirms Wisconsin does indeed have some of the highest individual tax rates in the country.

I lamented to several friends, who live there, that Wisconsin was trying to beef up tax revenues on the backs of lower and middle income workers.  But, I wondered, is this just me complaining or is it true?  I did a little further research and found the vast majority of tax breaks enacted by Wisconsin’s legislative body went to the top 1%, placing a greater tax burden on the lower and middle classes.

Best off pay smallest share of income in taxes

Tamerin Cornelius sums it up nicely at the Wisconsin Budget Project blog:

In Wisconsin, the top 1% is thriving. The share of income going to the top 1% in Wisconsin has reached its highest level ever, with nearly 1 out of every 5 dollars of income in Wisconsin going to the top 1%. Wisconsin’s tax system widens the chasm between the very highest earners and everybody else, contributing to hardships for Wisconsin’s families, communities and businesses. Instead of focusing on tax cuts that largely benefit the highest earners, state lawmakers should turn their attention to measures that could grow the state’s economy and lift families out of poverty, such as increasing the minimum wage and reversing the recent cuts in the state’s tax credits for low-income households.

If you’re curious about where your state ranks, take a look.

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Fifth Season Cooperative Expands Product Line

It’s so amazing to be living here in Wisconsin.  We have a conservative state legislature that passed a bill watering down environmental protections in favor of an out-of-state mining operation that wants to open a strip mine in one of the most ecologically pristine areas in the state.  We have acre upon acre of GE corn and soy growing every year.

On the other hand, we have this:

The Fifth Season Cooperative, founded in August 2010, is co-owned by farmers, distributors, buyers, producer groups, workers and processors within a 150-mile radius of Viroqua.
The cooperative produces and distributes locally grown produce, meats, dairy and value-added food products to institutional and foodservice buyers from farms and regional processors through its distribution member, Reinhart FoodService. Fifth Season requires sustainable practices and provides fair pricing for small and mid-sized growers and processors. The cooperative also works together with businesses and organizations to provide education on and increased exposure to locally produced foods.
Current membership includes 30 independent farms, three farmer cooperatives, 11 processors and two distributors.  Hundreds of foodservice buyers have access to Fifth Season’s products through Reinhart, La  Crosse. Continue reading

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How Our Food Choices Impact Our Health, Our Environment, and the Economic Vitality of Our Communities

Mark Kastel is co-founder of The Cornucopia Institute, a progressive farm policy research group based in Wisconsin and director of its Organic Integrity Project.

For almost 20 years prior to its launch he was president of M. A. Kastel and Associates, Inc. His professional practice included political consulting, lobbying work on behalf of family farm groups, and business development work benefiting family-scale farmers. Mr. Kastel has played a key role in a number of cooperative ventures designed to empower farmers in the marketplace. His development work has focused on creating sustainable farmer-owned businesses with an emphasis on dairy production and marketing.

Kastel, who worked for agribusiness giants International Harvester and J.I. Case before making the paradigm shift to sustainable farming, lives on a 160-acre organic farm in the rugged hills of southwestern Wisconsin, near the tiny burg of Rockton.


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Celebrate Cooperatives this October

The Wisconsin Ag Connection encourages Americans to celebrate cooperatives this month:

Wisconsin kicks off Cooperative Month in October, there is new evidence that people prefer to do business with cooperatives over investor-owned businesses. That’s according to Cooperative Network, which commissioned a survey through the St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute that shows 47 percent of consumers in Wisconsin and Minnesota indicated they were members of a cooperative, of which 74 percent said that they were more likely to choose cooperatives over other businesses based on their past experiences. Continue reading