The two year study relied heavily on what people had to say at six regional forums held around the state.

The project's co-chair, Stan Gruszynski from UW-Stevens Point says there was a central theme. People want a future that looks and feels like the Wisconsin they know and believe in. And that means agriculture is very important.

There were issues that many felt threatened that vision. Affordability and accessibility of health care coverage. Equal education between rural and wealthier suburbs.

And the immigration debate also plays into the future of the farm. Many farmers, according to Gruszynski, big and small, dairy or produce, say they rely on migrant workers. Their business depends on the outcome of the immigration debate.

Also on the minds of rural residents, land preservation and urban sprawl. Gruszynski says they discovered people want to farm.

The project was sponsored by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in hopes the public, community groups and lawmakers will take the recommendations and begin to shape policy that will protect the future of rural life in Wisconsin.

AUDIO: Jim Dick reports ( 1:28 MP3 )

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