PLOVER – Yesterday, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Randy Romanski joined Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) and local farmers and water advocates to celebrate the signing and implementation of 2021 Wisconsin Act 223, a new law to support farmers with water quality efforts.
This new law originated from the 2019-20 Water Quality Task Force, which Rep. Shankland co-chaired. She authored this bipartisan legislation to help support farmers with water quality conservation practices. The law creates a new nitrogen optimization pilot program to help farmers reduce nitrogen loading and leaching, supports a new cover crop insurance rebate program to help farmers utilize cover crops to improve soil health, and funds a new Wisconsin State Hydrogeologist position to help local governments find and address local hotspots of contamination.
“It was a pleasure to welcome Secretary Romanski to Central Wisconsin to celebrate the new resources available to farmers across our state to help protect our drinking water,” said Rep. Katrina Shankland. “This new law is the culmination of work that we began through the Water Quality Task Force. After nearly four years of thoughtful, bipartisan collaboration, I’m thrilled that we’ve gotten it across the finish line. This new law proves that when we work together across the aisle, we can do great things for agriculture and our environment. We owe it to the people of Wisconsin to ensure everyone has access to clean drinking water and to do everything we can to reduce and prevent nitrate contamination. Act 223 will provide much-needed support for farmers in taking preventative measures that protect our drinking water while strengthening farm resiliency. From offering support to farmers who lower nitrogen leaching and utilize cover crops to supporting our local governments with resources to find and address contamination, this new law will strengthen access to clean drinking water in Wisconsin.”
“Wisconsin resources set Wisconsin apart and allow us to grow so many high-quality products,” said DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski. “Farmers across Wisconsin understand that our water and agricultural land are our strength and implement practices to maximize soil and water health. The DATCP team will work with producers and stakeholders to implement the nitrogen optimization pilot program.”
“Farmers have been the backbone of our economy for generations and are a critical part of our conservation efforts because they value of our land and water and depend on it every day for the success of their businesses,” said Governor Tony Evers. “Thank you to Rep. Katrina Shankland and her leadership getting this bill to my desk. I was proud to sign this bipartisan bill that will help farmers take the lead on water conservation efforts and best practices, while also helping to protect their bottom lines, and I look forward to continuing our work together to continue supporting our farmers and their conservation efforts across our state.”
“Everyone deserves clean drinking water, and everyone wins when we can lower nitrate contamination, safeguard our drinking water supply, and support our farmers working to protect our water quality,” shared Rep. Shankland. “Our communities will be stronger and healthier for this new law. Thank you to the hundreds of people who made their voices heard at the task force’s 14 public hearings to urge state action on water quality. I’m grateful to everyone who worked to make this new law a reality, from the producer-led watershed groups and clean water advocates of Portage County to the DATCP Secretary and Governor Evers. You all inspire me, and this victory is all of ours together. Today we celebrate, and tomorrow we continue our work of addressing Wisconsin’s water quality concerns together.”