MADISON — In response to petitions submitted by landowners and local governments, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has designated more than 88,000 acres as agricultural enterprise areas in Chippewa, Dodge, Dunn, Green Lake, and Outagamie counties.

There are currently 43 AEAs in the state totaling 1.4 million acres located in portions of 28 counties, 119 towns, and the Bad River Reservation. An AEA designation identifies land important to Wisconsin’s agricultural future that supports local farmland protection goals, the agricultural economy, environmental efforts, and rural prosperity.

In Dodge County, the property is located in the Town of Westford. The property includes 18,203 acres. This is the sixth AEA in the county, and joins Ashippun-Oconomowoc, Burnett, Elba-Portland, Shields-Emmet, and Trenton AEAs. The AEA’s goals are to promote nutrient management planning to reduce sediment and phosphorus runoff to improve local surface water quality of Beaver Creek and Beaver Dam Lake.

Land located in an AEA provides landowners the option to sign a farmland preservation agreement. Agreements provide protections for certain uses of local lands while allowing the landowner the opportunity to claim the farmland preservation tax credit. AEAs also provide an opportunity to reinforce future land use goals and preserve agricultural lands, soil, and water resources.

AEAs are a part of the Wisconsin Farmland Preservation Program, administered by DATCP. DATCP has the authority to designate up to two million acres for AEAs. For more information on AEAs, visit https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/AgriculturalEnterpriseAreas.aspx.

For more information on the Farmland Preservation Program, visit https://farmlandpreservation.wi.gov.

If one is interested in starting an AEA or modifying an existing one, they may submit a petition to DATCP by Aug. 1. A minimum of five landowners and their local government(s) must file the petition jointly. To begin the petition process, contact local government or county land conservation department.

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