Farmer-Led Conservation Signed Into Law

Gov. Tony Evers has signed a bill prioritizing farmer-led conservation efforts into law as Wisconsin Act 223.

Act 223 includes a commercial nitrogen optimization pilot program that will incentivize farmers to engage in new practices to better utilize nitrogen on farms and share their project findings with other farmers across the state. Also included is a cover crop insurance premium rebate program that will provide additional support to farmers that plant cover crops. The act also allows for the creation of an additional, limited-term hydrogeologist position at Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey to continue to develop reliable soil depth-to-bedrock maps to help provide accurate maps and data for Wisconsin farmers.

“These tools will further empower farmer-led conservation efforts across the state,” says WFBF President Kevin Krentz. “Wisconsin farmers appreciate the continued bipartisan support for this initiative and the opportunity this will provide for farmers to continue finding ways to utilize nitrogen efficiently on their farms.”

Authored by Senator Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, and Representative Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, the bill supports farmer-led conservation efforts across the state and enables farmers to continue finding ways to enhance nitrogen efficiency on farms.

“Wisconsin farmers want to be leaders in the development of improved water quality practices on farms,” says Tamas Houlihan, executive director of Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. “The new programs created in this bill support those incredibly powerful and successful farmer-led conservation efforts that we have seen develop across Wisconsin.”

Four other environmental and agricultural groups, working as partners to bring about long-term solutions to Wisconsin’s water quality issues, cheered the signing of legislation aimed at reducing nitrates in rural wells, a move they hope will build momentum for broader efforts. 

“This legislation is a positive, practical step forward, one that will spur innovation and empower more farmers to prioritize groundwater protection,” the groups — Clean Wisconsin, the Dairy Business Association, The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, and WI Land+Water — said jointly.  

“We hope this action signals a long-term commitment by state leaders to significantly change how Wisconsin approaches drinking water protection and farmer support,” the groups said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature and administration on this critically important issue.”