Wisconsin’s second round of Producer Led Watershed Protection Grants have been awarded to 11 groups of farmers who will work with resource conservation agencies and organizations to address soil and water issues tailored to their local conditions.
All but one of the groups already existed, many of them having started with the help of funding from the first round of grants. Together they will receive $197,000 in this second round of awards.
The grant program was included in the 2015-17 state budget, designed to give financial support to farmers willing to lead conservation efforts in their own watersheds. The emphasis is on innovation and practices not already covered by other state and federal programs, and the intent is that participating farmers will reach out to other farmers to help them adopt conservation practices. Each group is eligible for up to $20,000 a year.
Producer groups must work with DATCP, the Department of Natural Resources, a county land conservation committee, the University of Wisconsin-Extension, or a nonprofit conservation organization. Grant funds cannot pay for real estate, loans, equipment purchases, or lobbying, and the program places caps on the amount of funding that can be used for staff support to the groups.
The second-round grant recipients are:
- Buffalo-Trempealeau Farmer Network – Elk Creek Watershed: $13,440 for understanding and improving nitrogen application in the Elk Creek Watershed .
- Farmers for Lake Country – Oconomowoc River Watershed: $20,000 for improving water quality in the Oconomowoc River watershed .
- Farmers for the Upper Sugar River: $20,000 for making best management practices accessible to the Upper Sugar River Producer Coalition.
- Farmers of Mill Creek Watershed Council: $19,975 for water quality improvement and public outreach in Mill Creek .
- Horse Creek Farmer-Led Watershed Council: $15,450 for improving water quality and building soil health in the Horse Creek Watershed .
- Milwaukee River Watershed Clean Farm Families: $20,000 for improving soil health and water quality in the Milwaukee River watershed.
- Pecatonica Pride: $20,000 for community watershed project.
- Peninsula Pride Farms: $20,000 for implementing practices that reduce nutrient and sediment loads in the Kewaunee River Watershed. Collaborating with Wisconsin Center for Agriculture and Environmental Resources, this group will use funding for incentive payments for farmers to try new conservation practices, nutrient management assessments, and demonstrations and field days to help farmers see the environmental and economic benefits of conservation practices best suited for the karst topography in their region.
- South Kinni Farmer-Led Watershed Council: $10,000 for improving water quality and building soil health in the South Kinni Watershed .
- Trout Creek-Mill Creek Watershed Group: $18,200 for reducing nutrient and sediment loss in the Trout Creek-Mill Creek watershed.
- Yahara Pride Farms: $20,000 for r educing agricultural phosphorus loss to surface waters in the Yahara watershed .