The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is the lead partner in this five-year project, which is a part of the USDA-Natural Resources Resource Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
The intent is to coordinate the expertise and resources of 13 partner agencies and organizations, both public and private, to help farmers reduce soil loss and nutrient runoff in this area of hills and valleys, with longstanding water quality and soil loss issues. All have been working on conservation issues in the region, but not in coordination, so redundancies were possible. EQIP funding and DATCP soil and water resource management funding will support the effort, and all the partners will provide their particular expertise.
The lands eligible for participation are those within two agricultural enterprise areas: the Pecatonica AEA and the Southwest Lead Mine Region AEA. About 200 landowners petitioned to be included in these AEAs; their goals include keeping agriculture vital and preserving their resources. Participants will receive technical assistance and some funding to install conservation practices or adopt new farming practices to prevent nutrient runoff and the water quality problems that follow. Because they are in AEAs, these landowners will also be able to claim Farmland Preservation Tax Credits when they bring their land into conservation compliance.
The partners will also present workshops and field days several times a year, and there will be a citizen water monitoring component as well. Farmer-to-farmer education will be an important component of the project. There will be opportunities for non-farm citizens to participate in water quality monitoring, and local municipalities may be able to work with the project on water quality trading. While all farms in the defined area will be eligible, beginning farmers and farmers who are military veterans are particularly encouraged to participate.
The project is just beginning in 2017, so we will build this website as information becomes available. Check back here frequently or sign up to receive updates and newsletters.
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List of organizations involved in this project, with contact information for each.