The Land & Water Resources Department provides the following cost-share programs for landowners and producers to help achieve conservation goals outlined in Dane County’s Land and Water Resource Management Plan. Many of these goals are accomplished through the implementation of agricultural conservation practices that reduce soil erosion, improve water infiltration, improve water quality, build soil health, increase wildlife habitat, sequester carbon, and diversify production practices.
Helps with the implementation of structural conservation practices that keep soil and nutrients on the land. This program is available to landowners or producers who own or operate agricultural land in Dane County and meet the eligibility requirements.
Provides funding to help convert traditional row-cropped fields to continuous vegetative cover. Continuous vegetation can increase water infiltration, reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, build soil health, increase wildlife habitat, sequester carbon, and diversify production practices.
Helps landowners and producers offset the cost of purchasing certain equipment used to address agricultural resource concerns, such as soil health or water quality. Equipment can be purchased new, used (if in good working condition), or custom-built with prior approval from county staff.
Funding opportunities supporting wetland restoration projects across the county. By expanding the ability for current wetlands to properly function or restoring areas that were historically wetlands, landowners can make a positive impact in the overall health of our watershed.
In addition to our cost-share programs, our department administers other state and federal programs that help landowners and producers meet their conservation goals.
The primary objective of the Wisconsin Working Lands Initiative is to preserve farmland for future generations. The initiative passed in 2009 and can be found primarily in Chapter 91 of Wisconsin State Statutes. Main components are listed below.
Farmland Preservation Program (FPP)
The purpose of the FPP program is to help preserve farmland through local planning and zoning, and to provide tax credit to participating landowners. Landowners in Agricultural Zoning Districts A-1 Ex, A-4 and A-B (all Towns except for Bristol, Burke, Middleton and Springdale) qualify for the FPP tax credit if they meet the eligibility requirements. Note: Land enrolled in Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Managed Forest Law is eligible for the tax credit provided that specific requirements are met. Useful links:
Agricultural Enterprise Area (AEA)
An AEA is an area of contiguous land primarily in agricultural use that has been designated by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) in response to a locally developed petition. It can be used by individuals and communities to meet locally identified agricultural preservation and agricultural development goals. Dane County has three designated AEAs: Town of Dunn, Town of Windsor and Vienna-Dane-Westport. More information about Dane County AEAs, including petition text, rule map and parcel number list, can be found at Farmland Preservation Agricultural Enterprise Areas (DATCP). Eligible landowners in these three designated AEAs, can enter into voluntary farmland preservation agreements to collect the farmland preservation tax credits. Participants can receive a tax credit of $10.00 for each eligible acre. To determine if your parcels are included within the three Dane County AEAs, click on the Interactive Map (DATCP). If your parcels are within a designated AEA, please contact Curt Diehl at the Dane County Land Conservation Division, 608-224-3741, for more information.
Purchase Agriculture Conservation Easements (PACE)
The Working Lands Initiative establishes a new program to provide up to 50% of the cost of purchasing agricultural conservation easements, including transaction costs. Through the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) program, the state will provide funding to cooperating local governments or non-profit organizations to purchase easements from willing landowners. Land with an agricultural conservation easement cannot be developed for any purpose that would prevent its use for agriculture. The PACE program is not currently accepting applications. See the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) for more information.
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)
CREP is a subprogram of the Conservation Reserve Program and is administered by both USDA and the State of Wisconsin. Through this program, participating landowners voluntarily establish conservation practices on environmentally sensitive agricultural land. These conservation practices are intended to decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water, while leaving the majority of the land in agricultural production. USDA pays enrollees annual land rental payments for 15 years, as well as cost-sharing for 50% of the cost of installing conservation practices.
Our department works in partnership with the USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service and USDA – Farm Service Agency to administer federal conservation programs. More information on program specifics and eligibility requirements can be found on our partners' websites.
Conservation Stewardship Program
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is geared to agricultural producers already participating in conservation activities who are interested in doing more. Agricultural producers may apply to enter into five-year contracts providing: annual payments for installation of new conservation practices and maintenance of old practices; and supplemental payments for adopting crop rotation systems.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offers financial assistance and technical help to eligible participants for the installation or implementation of structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. Program participants enroll in the program under contracts of up to ten years. This program provides funds for addressing resource concerns that may exist on agricultural lands.
Conservation Reserve Program
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) encourages private landowners to establish vegetative covers on land susceptible to erosion.
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a subprogram of the Conservation Reserve Program and is administered by both USDA and the state of Wisconsin. Through this program, participating landowners voluntarily establish conservation practices on environmentally sensitive agricultural land. These conservation practices are intended to decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water, while leaving the majority of the land in agricultural production. USDA pays enrollees annual land rental payments for 15 years, as well as cost-sharing for 50% of the cost of installing conservation practices.