LANSING — Michigan Farm Bureau is joining forces on a new pilot project with The Nature Conservancy that recently received a $328,077 Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to encourage the adoption of conservation practices by farmers through drain assessments. The goal of the project is to recognize and incentivize the establishment of conservation practices that improve the function or reduce the maintenance cost of publicly managed drain systems.
“Farm Bureau’s member-written policy supports farmers working with local drain commissioners on soil and conservation practices and receiving incentives to help them recoup expenses for those practices,” said Michigan Farm Bureau Ag Ecology Department Manager, Laura Campbell. “This project will look at ways to accomplish that goal—to give drain commissioners the tools and ability to incentivize on-farm conservation practices, reduce the cost of drain projects and maintenance, and keep sediment out of waterways.”
Additional project partners include the Cook Family Foundation, Monroe County Drain Commissioner and the Saginaw County Public Works Commissioner. “This is one of those win-win opportunities that can provide environmental and economic benefits, and we look forward to working with the partners in the project to see it succeed. What it achieves in Monroe and Saginaw counties could become a model available elsewhere in the state or even the rest of the country,” Campbell said.
The Nature Conservancy award wasn’t the only project selected with a focus on Michigan agriculture. The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship was awarded a grant of $503,000 for a two-year accredited apprenticeship program for historically underserved beginning dairy producers in Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The grant will provide for a comprehensive apprenticeship in managed-grazing dairy production including mentoring, financial advising, on-farm employment and farm transfer.
The maximum Conservation Innovation Grant is $2 million per project and the length of time for project completion is three years. Nationwide 33 projects were selected totaling more than $22.6 million. The Natural Resources Conservation Service uses the grant program to work with other public and private entities to accelerate transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches to address some of the nation’s most pressing natural resource concerns.
— Michigan Farm Bureau
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