Keeping farmland working in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Working Lands Program became part of the 2009–2011 state budget after it was signed into law in July 2009. Three main components of the program include updates to the state’s current Farmland Preservation Program, the ability for farmers and local governments to establish voluntary Agricultural Enterprise Areas, and a state program to help with the purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements.
"Wisconsin’s population is growing steadily, and there are growing conflicts over land use. If we don’t act soon, these conflicts will get worse and will become much harder to resolve. Wisconsin farmland is being permanently lost at an alarming rate. If we don’t act soon, it will be too late to save key agricultural resources on which our future depends," according to a report from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
"Land use conflicts and fragmentation threaten our agricultural economy. We need agricultural lands for food, quality of life, a healthy environment, a strong business climate, water quality, flood prevention and Wisconsin’s emerging bio-economy."
The state program provides tools to preserve ag land, including financial incentives to "help farmers keep land in agricultural use and employ good conservation practices," officials say. Specifically, the program is modernizing the Wisconsin farmland preservation program and will help local governments "modernize outdated farmland preservation plans and zoning ordinances."