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Grant Encourages Wisconsin Farmers To Start Own Water Protection Programs

DATCP Offers Help To Those Who Create Watersheds With Their Land

lake and pier and blufflands
MPCA Photos (CC-BY-NC)  

Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection are now offering grant money for farmers to start their own watershed protection projects.

Groups of Wisconsin farmers are now eligible to receive up to $20,000 from DATCP to reduce field runoff and encourage other farmers to participate in water conservation.

Jeff Endres, chair of Yahara Pride Farms, a water conservation project lead by farmers in Dane County, said producers should be leaders in developing new ways to protect water resources.

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“I think it’s important for agriculture to be out in the lead on this. Nobody understands their farms better than the farmers,” said Endres. “They’re working with the land directly. They know what practices are working on their farms.”

Donna Gilson, a spokeswoman for DATCP, said the department wanted to try a different approach to water conservation.

“We’ve had programs and they’ve always come from the government and we create them based on what we see from science and then try to get farmers to sign up for them,” Gilson said. “This is one where the farmers are coming to us saying, ‘This is where we see the need.’”

Gilson said DATCP officials hope more farmers will want to take ownership of protecting their watershed. Producers can use the grant for planning, education or incentive programs.

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