DATCP: State and federal funds available for technical assistance, education and research in management intensive grazing

Contact: Laura Paine 608-224-5120

MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced today that competitive grant funds will be available for technical assistance, education and research projects in management intensive grazing. Applications for education projects must be postmarked by April 10. Applications for technical assistance and research projects must be postmarked by May 29.

“Pasture-based systems are one of the keys to preserving Wisconsin’s working lands,” Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen said. “With over 40 percent of dairy farmers using pasture as a primary source of forage, these grazing grants help provide the technical assistance, research and education many farmers are asking for.”

Funding for the program comes from both state and federal sources. State funding available for this year’s grazing grants totals $310,000. The exact amount of federal funds has not yet been set. Projects will be funded competitively after final funding levels are known. The funds are available to county, state and federal agriculture and natural resource agencies; colleges and universities; nonprofit organizations; grazing networks; and farmers using managed intensive grazing.

“Both state and federal budgets face challenges this year, but we’ll have adequate funds to continue the grant program,” said Laura Paine, program coordinator at the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. “Education grants help fund the activities of grazing networks and allow organizations and agencies to conduct grazing schools, workshops, and conferences on management intensive grazing, whereas technical assistance grants provide funds for grazing specialists to work one-on-one with farmers to develop their grazing system.”

The research program requires farmer involvement. Research can be conducted as University of Wisconsin farmer-assisted projects or as applied on-farm projects. “We’ve supported a wide range of research projects from pasture management studies to economics to organic fertility management,” Paine said. “The key is to make it relevant to the farmers’ needs.”

“Many grazing farms can significantly reduce their capital investment and labor costs,” said Nilsestuen. “Almost half of the state’s beginning dairy farmers are using grazing as a strategy for getting started. We’re pleased to be able to support this trend with these grant dollars.”

Governor Jim Doyle has included $396,000 in each of the next two years for the grazing grant program in the budget he recently presented to the Legislature. Funding for the next two years is subject to approval by the Legislature.

Materials for the 2009 grant application will be available on the department’s web site the week of March 9. Go to http://www.datcp.state.wi.us and search for “grazing grants.”