Wisconsin’s first Producer Led Watershed Protection Grants have been awarded to 14 groups of farmers who will work with resource conservation agencies and organizations to address soil and water issues tailored to their local conditions.
Secretary Ben Brancel said, “All of these projects have strong farmer leadership and a commitment to improving water and soil quality on Wisconsin farmland. Each project is unique, but they all include learning about best management practices, installing conservation practices, and forming partnerships to strengthen their efforts. I look forward to seeing what they accomplish.”
Brancel leads the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, which will administer the program.
He added, “We were very impressed how many groups could organize themselves in such a short period of time in this first round of funding. It is clear that they have been thinking about similar efforts for quite some time. We commend the farmers’ commitment and the level of partnerships involved in these innovative water quality projects.”
Of the 14 groups, 9 are new and 5 already existed. About half will collaborate with their county land conservation departments and about a third are working with their local University of Wisconsin-Extension offices. UW Discovery Farms and nonprofit organizations are also collaborating with some of the projects. Together they will receive $242,550. Each group is eligible for up to $20,000 a year.
The first grant recipients are: Buffalo-Trempealeau Farmer Network – Elk Creek Watershed – $17,700; Buffalo-Trempealeau Farmer Network – Waumandee Creek Watershed – $12,000; Peninsula Pride Farms – Ahnapee Watershed – $20,000; Farmers for Lake Country – Oconomowoc River Watershed – $7,000; South Kinni Farmer-Led Watershed Council Dry Run Creek Farmer-Led Council Horse Creek Farmer-Led Watershed Council Hay River Farmer-Led Watershed Council – $20,000 each; Milwaukee River Watershed Clean Farm Families – $20,000; Farmers of Barron County Watersheds – $16,000; Farmers of Mill Creek Watershed Council – $20,000; Farmer Led Watershed Group in Iowa County – $20,000; Yahara Pride Farms – $20,000; and Upper Sugar River Watershed Coalition – $9,850.
The grant for Peninsula Pride Farms, a group focused on working with agriculture to protect groundwater in southern Door County and Kewaunee County, will work with Discovery Farms on protective land management practices in this karst region, using field days, conferences, incentive programs and research demonstration projects.