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News Release

USDA Awards New Partnership Projects in Wisconsin to Help Mitigate Climate Change and Protect Natural Resources while Supporting America’s Producers

MADISON, WIS., April 27, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it is investing $330 million in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships to address climate change, improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability, including 3 projects in Wisconsin. Projects are awarded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is public-private partnerships working at their best,” said Angela Biggs, NRCS State Conservationist in Wisconsin. “These new projects will harness the power of partnerships to help bring about solutions to natural resource concerns across the country while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis.” Highlighted below are the three selected Wisconsin projects.

Improving Soil Health and Water Quality—Dane County Land and Water Resources Department is leading this effort and partnering with the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District in the Mississippi River Basin critical conservation area. The partners will help producers and landowners implement soil health systems and practices to reduce phosphorus loading to local surface waters. Partner cash contributions will complement NRCS funding and provide a menu of incentive options for producers. Project partners have used USDA's Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework to identify critical areas with high phosphorous delivery potential, allowing for the targeting of project funds. 

Grasslands and Oak Savannas for Water and Wildlife—The Sand County Foundation is leading this effort in the Mississippi River Basin critical conservation area. The Grasslands and Oak Savannas for Water and Wildlife project will work on a holistic effort to increase terrestrial habitat for grassland birds and pollinators, reduce nutrient and sediment loss from vulnerable lands, and improve the economic well-being of farmers and rural communities in Wisconsin's increasingly-threatened Driftless Area. To achieve these goals, the project will transition sensitive cropland to permanent, productive vegetation; restore degraded grasslands and oak savannas; and support prescribed grazing, perennial buffers and field borders, agroforestry, and invasive species control on approximately 2,000 acres. Project partners will also integrate bird, water quality and socio-economic studies to report on project outcomes.

Wisconsin Farmland Protection Partnership ProjectAmerican Farmland Trust is leading this effort to scale up farmland protection efforts in the State, with a focus on targeting funding to areas underserved by easement funding in the past. This partnership of 18 entities aims to protect land and help create large anchors of preserved agricultural land to help mitigate the high number of farm bankruptcies in Wisconsin, while also increasing adoption of conservation practices on protected land. 

Across America, producers are seeing the impacts from climate change. Farmers, landowners and local communities can be a major part of the effort to combat climate change.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, including those through RCPP, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including state, local and Tribal governments. 

About RCPP

Through RCPP, conservation partners work in collaboration with NRCS to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners throughout the nation to implement systems that conserve water and soil resources, improve the health of wildlife habitats and increase climate resilience. 

RCPP partners offer value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding. These projects offer impactful and measurable outcomes. Throughout its history, RCPP has leveraged partner contributions of more than $1 for every $1 invested by USDA, resulting in nearly $3 billion collectively invested in natural resource conservation on private lands. The Department anticipates the investments made today will generate at least $440 million in additional conservation funds by communities and other partners.

See the interactive map of awarded RCPP projects here.

There are currently 336 active RCPP projects that have engaged more than 2,000 partners. For more information, visit the RCPP website.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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