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Applications being accepted for DATCP watershed protection grant program now

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer
Jeff Pfeuti stands in one of his fields Friday, May 18, 2018, near Albany, Wis. He's a member of a watershed group that has received state funding to do better environmental practices.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is opening applications for the Producer-Led Watershed Protection grant program until September 21 this year.

The grants are awarded to producers living in a watershed who use water conservation initiatives to improve the farming industry and bring their communities together. Groups of producers are eligible to receive up to $40,000 to work on water and soil conservation and quality issues in their area. The program has given more than $2 million to 31 producer-led groups since 2015.

Producers and other community leaders work together to identify strategies that help conserve and protect their local watershed based on land and soil characteristics, access to resources, kinds of operations and other criteria. There are 330 watersheds and 32 water basins in Wisconsin.

The application requires groups of five or more individual producers with farms in the same watershed (an area where precipitation collects and drains into a body of water). Each farm must have made at least $6,000 in gross income according to 2019 tax returns or $18,000 over the last three years.

Producer-led groups must also create a partnership with either the Department of Natural Resources, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, a land conservation committee or a non-profit conservation organization. There are also restrictions on what the grant won't pay for – it won't cover things like real estate costs, loans or equipment purchases.

Information on how to apply is on the DATCP website.