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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.
Several hundred people attended a rally at the State Capitol Sunday for a bill to legalize marijuana to treat serious illnesses. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, are sponsoring the measure. It would let patients or caregivers grow small amounts of marijuana for medical use and those who can't grow it themselves could have it dispensed. Thirteen other states allow medical marijuana. Previous efforts to allow it in Wisconsin never went anywhere in the Legislature.
The Minnesota Vikings can stay undefeated and keep a one-game lead in the NFC North Division by beating the Green Bay Packers tonight in Minneapolis. But the big question is how quarterback Brett Favre will perform against the team he helped bring back from obscurity in the 1990s and the team which let him go when he wanted to unretire last season. Favre, who turns 40 on Saturday, will make his NFL-record 273rd consecutive start.
The Wisconsin football team has made the Top 25 in the USA Today coaches' poll. The Badgers are 25th after their win at Minnesota on Saturday. They improved to 5-0 overall, and 2-0 in the Big Ten going into their battle at Ohio State next weekend. Wisconsin also got enough votes to be just one spot away from making the AP's Top-25. Meanwhile, Badgers' junior running back John Clay was named the Big Ten's offensive player of the week for his 184-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Gophers.
Milwaukee Brewers' manager Ken Macha will be back next year and he will not be a lame duck. Macha's contract still expires a year from now, but general manager Doug Melvin added a one-year option for 2011. Melvin said it shows how much he supports Macha, 59. The GM does not blame the manager for the Brewers' meltdown in starting pitching, caused in part by long-term injuries to Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan. Bench coach Willie Randolph was also invited to return next year, along with batting coach Dale Sveum, first base coach Ed Sedar, and third base coach Brad Fischer.
The Brewers ended their season Sunday with a 9-7 win at St. Louis in 10 innings. Jody Gerut had the game-winning hit with an infield single, and Ryan Braun doubled home the final run. Prince Fielder homered twice, giving him 46 for the year. And he drove in three runs to tie Ryan Howard for the Major League RBI crown with 141. He lost a chance to win the title outright when he was intentionally walked in the 10th. Still, Fielder went 3-5 on the day, as the Brewers out-slugged the Cardinals 15-7. Braun had two hits, and he led the National League with 203 hits this season.
Minnesota will host Detroit at 4 p.m. Tuesday, to decide who wins the American League Central and a playoff berth. The Twins and Tigers ended the regular season in a tie for the division lead. Minnesota swept Kansas City for three games in Minneapolis over the weekend, while Detroit lost two-of-three to the White Sox in Chicago. The Twins crushed the Royals 10-4 Sunday, as Jason Kubel hit a pair of three-run homers. The Tigers stayed alive with a 5-3 win over the White Sox.
The Milwaukee Bucks lost their exhibition opener Sunday, 117-103 to the Timberwolves in Mankato, Minn. The Bucks went down by 12 at the half, and they never got close to catching up the rest of the way. Forward Hakim Warrick led the Bucks with 24 points off the bench. First-round draft choice Brandon Jennings had 14 points and five assists at the point guard spot. Kevin Love had 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Timberwolves, and Al Jefferson added 14 points while playing just 16 minutes in the first half.
Wisconsinites are using less water. The state Public Service Commission said the average residential water customer used 56,000 gallons last year - down from 60,000 gallons in 2004. PSC chairman Eric Callisto said its shows that water conservation efforts are gaining momentum. Plover administrator Dan Mahoney says the village newsletter tells residents how to cut their water usage. He says more residents are putting in toilets that conserve water. Wisconsin Rapids Water Works manager Jem Brown credits the weather.
Officials at University of Wisconsin-Madison have softened a proposed policy against letting doctors make presentations at events for outside medical firms and getting big money in the process. Doctors would still be banned from speaking to drug companies about new medications. But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says orthopedic surgeons and others who implant various devices could still make presentations to medical device companies.