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 all projects must be postmarked by November 12.
"Managed grazing is a means for dairy and livestock producers to raise high quality forage at a low cost," Agriculture Secretary Randy Romanski said. "Trimming production costs is a high priority for farmers. These grazing grants help provide the technical assistance, research and education many farmers are asking for."
Financial support for the program comes from both state and federal sources. Projects will be funded competitively after final funding levels are known, with grants available no later than Spring 2011. Eligible applicants include county, state and federal agriculture and natural resource agencies; colleges and universities; nonprofit organizations; grazing networks; and farmers who wish to do on-farm research.
"This program has strong support at both the state and federal level," said Laura Paine, program coordinator at the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. "We have a good track record of effective projects. Education grants support 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 from planning onward. On-farm projects are especially encouraged, but research can be conducted as University of Wisconsin farmer-assisted projects as well. "We've supported a wide range of research projects from soil fertility to dairy cow grazing behavior," Paine said. "The key is to make it relevant to the farmers' needs."
"Managed grazing is a means for dairy and livestock farmers to be profitable with less capital investment and labor costs," said Romanski. "Well-managed pastures also protect the environment by reducing runoff and soil erosion. It's a win-win system and we're pleased to be able to support this sustainable practice with these grant dollars."
Materials for the 2011 grant application will be available on the department's web site the week of Oct. 4. Go to www.datcp.state.wi.us/arm/agriculture/land-water/grazergrant/index.jsp or to the DATCP home page ( www.datcp.state.wi.us ) and search for "grazer grants."