In response to petitions submitted by landowners and local governments, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has designated over 88,000 acres as agricultural enterprise areas (AEAs) in Chippewa, Dodge, Dunn, Green Lake, and Outagamie counties. There are currently 43 AEAs in the state totaling 1.4 million acres located in portions of 28 counties, 119 towns, and the Bad River Reservation. An AEA designation identifies land important to Wisconsin’s agricultural future that supports local farmland protection goals, the agricultural economy, environmental efforts, and rural prosperity.
Designations include the following new and modified AEAs:
Cicero Blackmour AEA, Outagamie County: Includes 45,466 acres in the towns of Black Creek, Cicero, and Seymour. This is the third AEA in the county and joins Three Rivers and the Greenville Greenbelt AEAs. The goals of the AEA are to explore and expand beyond traditional agriculture and agricultural-related uses to allow for increased sustainability and market stability for existing and future agricultural operations. Local contact: Greg Baneck, county conservationist, (920) 832-5073, [email protected]
St. Marie AEA, Green Lake County: Includes 19,725 acres in the towns of St. Marie and Princeton. This is the first AEA for the county. The AEA’s goals are to support local food production and markets by creating a local brand associated with the AEA for products sold at local stores and farmers markets. Local contact: Todd Morris, soil conservationist, (920) 294-4056, [email protected]
Town of Westford AEA, Dodge County: Includes 18,203 acres in the town of Westford. This is the sixth AEA in the county, and joins Ashippun-Oconomowoc, Burnett, Elba-Portland, Shields-Emmet, and Trenton AEAs. The AEA’s goals are to promote nutrient management planning to reduce sediment and phosphorus runoff to improve local surface water quality of Beaver Creek and Beaver Dam Lake. Local contact: John Bohonek, county conservationist, (920) 386-3660, [email protected]
Town of Grant AEA, Chippewa and Dunn counties: Adds 5,095 acres in the town of Otter Creek that includes a strong producer-led network supporting conservation and preservation. Previously designated in 2014, this AEA now has 31,140 acres in the towns of Grant, Colfax, Sand Creek, Otter Creek, and Cooks Valley. The AEA will continue to expand on promoting nutrient management planning to encourage protection of local water resources and preserve agricultural lands for future generations. Local contact: Travis Drier, conservation planner – nutrient management specialist, (715) 232-1496, [email protected]
Land located in an AEA provides landowners the option to sign a farmland preservation agreement. Agreements provide protections for certain uses of local lands while allowing the landowner the opportunity to claim the farmland preservation tax credit. AEAs also provide an opportunity to reinforce future land use goals and preserve agricultural lands, soil, and water resources.
If you are interested in starting an AEA or modifying an existing one, you may submit a petition to DATCP until August 1, 2021. A minimum of five landowners and their local government(s) must file the petition jointly. To begin the petition process, contact your local government or county land conservation department. Petition materials are available at https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/AEAPetitionInfo.aspx. For information and resources to help prepare a petition, contact Wednesday Jordan at (608) 224-4611 or email [email protected].