Farmers for the Upper Sugar River

Next Meeting:  Monday June 12, 2017 at 7 pm. Meetings are located at the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association office (207 E. Main St., Mt. Horeb)usr_prodcoalition_logo5_color

Next Event: Field Day in mid-August 2017 is being planned. Date and location to be determined.

Mission: “Ensuring the future of agriculture by being responsible stewards of the land and water quality in the Upper Sugar River Watershed.”

Beginning in May 2016, in partnership with seven local producers in the watershed, USRWA received funding from the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to kick start a farmer-led coalition in the Upper Sugar River Watershed. USRWA and it’s founding producers who helped write the grant application are one of 14 groups around the state that will benefit from Wisconsin’s first Producer Led Watershed Protection Grants issued.

Press Coverage

DATCP article on the Coalition

11/25/2016 Verona Press: “USRWA looks to bolster new farmer-led group”

1/10/2017 Agri-View: “Farmers ensure, share watershed future”

field day pic
April 2017 Field Day in Pine Bluff

Years in the making

Receiving this grant is a culmination of nearly two years worth of effort. “Two years ago we made it a priority to understand the issues facing both the watershed and the farmers when it came to ag runoff,” said Wade Moder, Executive Director of USRWA.

“As a conservation group, things really started coming together and making sense when we brought farmers into the conversation. We learned from each other quickly, and it became clear a farmer-led coalition would be a great asset for everyone.”

Focus of the Group

Farmers for the Upper Sugar River is targeting the Headwaters Sugar River and West Branch Sugar River watersheds, which are both impaired due to excess phosphorus loading. USRWA, who is partnering with the farmers on the coalition, has already established baseline water quality data to help prioritize the coalition’s efforts. The overarching goal of the group is to bring together like minded farmers, strengthen water quality improvement efforts, and leverage educational and financial resources in the future.

As a newly formed producer led group, the grant funding will be used to develop a mission statement, goals, and work plan for the watershed, in addition to recruiting more producers into the coalition.  Farmer education will also be a primary focus. In its first year, the group will host a field day and a “Lunch and Learn” educational workshop in partnership with Dane County UW-Extension’s Crop and Soils Educator, Heidi Johnson for all of the producers in the Sugar River Watershed. To further engage producers in the watershed, the group will also develop an incentive program to fund the installation of various conservation practices.

Producers currently participating: Brian Brown, Doug Brown, Sherry Combs, Shawn Connors, John Doerfer, Mike Duerst, John Judd, Mark Keller, Gerry Krantz, Jerome Zander

farm near belleville
Farm along the Sugar River near Belleville

Current timeline:

May-October 2016: Perform monthly total phosphorus sampling at 15 watershed locations

June-August 2016: Create mission, vision, goals, project plan, and logo for the group

September-October 2016: Create mailing list, produce first mailing, plan for a Lunch & Learn event

November-December 2016: Host Lunch & Learn event, produce a second mailing, ask for an extension to use grant funds into 2017

January-February 2017: Recruit producers to participate in cost incentive program, create another mailing

March-April 2017: Plan and host a cover crop field day event in Pine Bluff

May-September 2017: Assist watershed farmers with implementing new practices through grant incentive payments, plan another field day

November 2017: Host 2nd annual Lunch & Learn workshop for watershed farmers

Any producers living and farming in the Upper Sugar River Watershed are invited to join the council. For more information, please contact Upper Sugar River Watershed Association Executive Director Wade Moder by email usrwa@usrwa.org or by phone at 608-437-7707.