Support Coming For Water Quality Efforts

There’s a new law on the docket that aims to support farmers with water quality efforts. This was a bill introduced in early 2020 by the bipartisan Water Quality Task Force, but it wasn’t passed until April of this year.

This week DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski and the bill’s author Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, are starting to push the word out to farmers who may be interested in taking advantage of the new programs.

Shankland says the programs may start as early as this fall, which includes dollars to help reduce commercial fertilizer application, cover crop insurance and a three-year state hydrogeologist position to be a resource for producers.

The law creates a new nitrogen optimization pilot program to help farmers reduce nitrogen loading and leaching, supports a new cover crop insurance rebate program to help farmers utilize cover crops to improve soil health, and funds a new Wisconsin State Hydrogeologist position to help local governments find and address local hotspots of contamination.

“Act 223 will provide much-needed support for farmers in taking preventative measures that protect our drinking water while strengthening farm resiliency,” Shankland says. “From offering support to farmers who lower nitrogen leaching and utilize cover crops to supporting our local governments with resources to find and address contamination, this new law will strengthen access to clean drinking water in Wisconsin.”

Romanski adds the DATCP will work with producers and stakeholders to implement the nitrogen optimization pilot program.