Four farmer led watershed groups in Vernon County receive state funded but see their total dollar amounts reduced

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has awarded $1 million in producer-led watershed protection grants (PLWPG) to 47 farmer-led groups for 2023. Grants support producer-led conservation solutions by encouraging innovation and farmer participation in on-the-ground efforts to improve Wisconsin’s soil health and water quality.

“Across the state, producer-led groups are doing tremendous work caring and advocating for our state’s land and water resources, and those efforts continue to grow year after year,” said Gov. Evers. “This program supports farmers who aim to engage with their communities in a variety of conservation initiatives.”

This is the ninth round of grant awards since funding was first made available in the 2015-17 biennial budget. Annual interest in DATCP’s PLWPG program continues to exceed the program budget. This funding cycle received the highest amount of requests in the history of the program, with 47 groups applying for a total funding request of almost $1.6 million. This year’s grant cycle funding will support four new groups while helping veteran groups continue to advance their work.

A map of recipients can be found on DATCP’s website.

The following Vernon County area watershed councils were among the grant recipients:

  • Bad-Axe Farmer-Led Watershed Council, $29,600;
  • Coon Creek Community Watershed Council, $22,800;
  • Rush Creek Watershed Conservation Council, $22,800 (this is a new group);
  • Tainter Creek Farmer-Led Watershed Council, $22,800.

About the Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grants

Including the recent round of funding, DATCP has awarded more than $6.2 million to 49 different groups across the state since the program started in 2015. Grant projects have focused on providing conservation education to farmers, conducting on-farm demonstrations and research, issuing incentive payments for implementing conservation practices, organizing field days, and gathering data on soil health and water quality.

In 2022, groups in the program delivered conservation practices on over 1.1 million acres, an increase from 978,881 acres in 2021. This includes a 35% increase in no-till practices, a 30% increase in nutrient management, and a 27% increase in cover crop adoption. In addition, the program provides valuable peer-to-peer learning opportunities for farmers across the state.

Producer-led groups must work with a county land conservation department, University of Wisconsin-Division of Extension, non-profit conservation organization, or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Funds cannot pay for real estate, loans, equipment, or lobbying, and the program places caps on the amount of funding that can be used for staff support to the groups. Each group must start with at least five farmers in the watershed.

For additional details on the impacts of Wisconsin’s producer-led groups, visit DATCP’s website.

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