Wisconsin groups announce Clean Water Initiative priorities

Farmers and environmental groups have teamed up to promote clean water funding in the Wisconsin state budget.  Karen Gefvert is with the Dairy Business Association and says they came together with The Nature Conservancy, Wisconsin Land and Water, and Clean Wisconsin to support specific state programs. “They’re not groups that have traditionally worked together but we saw that as a missed opportunity and in really bringing these groups together and talking about what our future goals were, we did find some ways in which we could align.”

Gefvert tells Brownfield a new proposal the Clean Water Initiative would like to have funded is for residential well testing. “This would be a new program to work on either a county-led effort or some sort of a state-directed fund that would help residents offset the cost of testing their wells, specifically if they are located in a high-risk area.”

Gefvert says the group is also advocating for the expansion of Wisconsin’s one-year-old farmer-led Nitrogen Optimization Pilot Program and the cover crop premium rebate program.

The group supports budget investments of $3.7 million per year for the state’s Well Compensation Grant Program and $43.8 million in existing, successful agricultural and conservation programs.  That would include increased funding for county conservation department staffing, $4.125 million to maintain grants for farmer-led watershed protection programs, further support meat processors in efforts to boost capacity, and create a pilot program to help farmers transition row crop fields to grass-based grazing or perennial forage production systems for livestock.  They also support the expansion of tax credits for farmers who commit to keeping their land in agricultural use while meeting conservation standards.

She says the overall response from legislators has been very good so far, and she’s looking forward to bringing these priorities to more lawmakers next Wednesday during Dairy Day at the Capitol.

Karen Gefvert with the Dairy Business Association discusses the Clean Water Initiative’s budget goals with Brownfield’s Larry Lee

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