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Gov. Tony Evers signs bipartisan watershed protection bill for agriculture

By: Ethan Duran//May 8, 2023//

Gov. Tony Evers signs bipartisan watershed protection bill for agriculture

By: Ethan Duran//May 8, 2023//

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An agricultural researcher controls an irrigation pipe in Italy as more farmers invest in precision irrigation during one of the hottest months of the year. In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers signed into law an act to increase eligibility for producer-leg groups and farmers seeking watershed protection grants. The bill includes provisions for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to administer lake and protection grants. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

By Ethan Duran

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Gov. Tony Evers on Monday signed four bills including a bipartisan bill to widen eligibility for watershed, lake and river protection grants for farmers and producers.

2023 Assembly Bill, now Wisconsin Act 5, expands eligibility of producer-leg groups for a watershed protection grant program from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), according to a Legislative Reference Bureau memo. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) can administer grant programs to fitting producer groups to protect different lakes and rivers, the memo added.

Up to five agricultural producers located in a single watershed or neighboring watersheds can get grants, according to the bill text.

“The producer−led group includes at least 5 agricultural producers each of whom operates an eligible farm, as defined in s. 91.86 (1), in one watershed or in adjacent watersheds. The group may include additional agricultural producers who are not required to be operators of eligible farms,” according to the bill.

The state defines an eligible farm as a farm that produced $6,000 in gross revenue during the taxable year before a petition is filed or one that made $18,000 in gross revenues over three years, according to state law.

“Farmers and producers are leading the way on some of our water conservation efforts because they know firsthand the value of clean water and fruitful land. I am glad to be signing this bipartisan bill today to expand opportunities for more producers to access this program so we can work together to improve surface water quality across the state,” Gov. Evers said in a statement.

Gov. Evers also signed a bill that eliminated an inactive land recycling loan program, a bill that repealed requirements the Department of Tourism distribute cheese at tourism information centers and a law providing exceptions to the village of Pleasant Prairie Tax Increment District (TID) Number 2, governor’s office officials added.

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