We are a group of farmers and landowners who promote adoption of conservation agriculture within four watersheds in western Wisconsin
Our objectives are:
– Improve water quality through reduced phosphorus and sediment loading.
– Increase farmer engagement with water quality issues including the adoption of conservation practices.
– Develop farmer leadership around water quality in each watershed.
– Develop a collaborative model for improving water quality that can be replicated in other watersheds.
How we meet those objectives:
-Monetary incentives for conservation practices. (Click the specific council from the dropdown menu above to see incentive applications.)
-On-field events to educate farmers about the benefits to them of conservation
– Networking events to help farmers talk together and learn from one another
Each Farmer-Led Watershed Council consists of farmers who live and/or work in the watershed. Membership to these councils is generally informal, although farmers may volunteer to sign up as leaders for grant applications. Council activities and direction are determined by farmer consensus and discussion at local meetings held throughout the year.
Each council works with staff from a local county who assist with administration and technical knowledge. The councils also share a coordinator who works at the direction of the farmers setting up events, doing outreach, and coordinating communications.
These councils were organized in 2013 with the assistance of UW-Extension staff and local county Land Conservation Departments. Shortly thereafter, they received a clean water grant from the McKnight Foundation which provides funds for education and incentives and created a coordinator position to assist all 4 groups.
Since those early days, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP) started providing funds for Producer-Led Watershed Groups across Wisconsin, which these 4 groups can apply for annually.
The councils also recently received a Surface Water Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to assist with administration, education, and outreach work they will be doing in 2022 and 2023. All grants and coordinator administration needs are managed through the Wisconsin Farmers Union.