Funding available for farmers’ soil and water conservation efforts in the Western Lake Erie Basin

What’s happening: Agricultural producers and landowners in the Western Lake Erie Basin have until Friday, Dec. 2, to apply for federal funding to implement conservation practices. The program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture aims to help Michigan farmers address water and soil quality concerns.

Who’s eligible: Farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin are encouraged to apply, an area that includes Lenawee and Monroe counties and portions of Branch, Hillsdale, Jackson, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Priority will be given to those farms in the Lime Creek, Niles Ditch, Stony Creek, LaPointe Drain, Covell Drain, and Silver Creek sub-watersheds, although all lands within the Western Lake Erie Basin are eligible for funding.

What they’re looking for: Funding will support projects that improve water and soil quality, which includes cover crops, nutrient management plans, grassed waterways, drainage water management, amending soil properties with gypsum products, filter strips, and residue management. Further goals of the project include reducing phosphorus and sediment loading, preventing harmful algal blooms, and the long-term goal of reducing phosphorus by 40 percent.

How to apply: Agricultural producers and landowners within the WLEB can visit the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the USDA online for more information about the program and application process. The program is available through the Tri-State Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which covers Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, and is led locally by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

Why it’s important: "In Michigan, we are defined by our Great Lakes. We must all unite to protect these precious resources for future generations and our state's economy. This project is an example of the commitment from public, private, and non-profit organizations to address the nutrient loading issue in the Western Lake Erie Basin," says MDARD Director Gary McDowell. "This is one of many opportunities available to farmers in the area to get technical and financial assistance to develop specific conservation plans and help with conservation practice adoption. These steps will help reduce nutrient loss and minimize future harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie."

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