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Gulf Coast Fishermen Praise Wisconsin Conservation Farming

Gulf Coast fishermen are relying on farmers in southwest Wisconsin to help keep the water as clean as possible. (Solstock/iStockPhoto.com)
Gulf Coast fishermen are relying on farmers in southwest Wisconsin to help keep the water as clean as possible. (Solstock/iStockPhoto.com)
September 21, 2016

EAST TROY, Wis. - Conservation practices employed by farmers in southwest Wisconsin not only are helping their bottom lines but also are helping protect the lower Mississippi watershed and the Gulf Coast.

Several fishermen from the Gulf Coast are taking time from their busiest season to travel to Wisconsin to thank the farmers. They'll co-host a three-farm tour on Friday, which will highlight the measures these farmers are taking in cover cropping, rotational grazing, water management and other steps.

Margaret Krome, program director for public policy at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, said the farmers will lead the tour with the special guests.

"Fishermen from the Gulf of Mexico and the Southern Mississippi River estuary are coming up," she said, "to share with us how important it is to their livelihood, to their families, their culture, their communities, that the conservation farmers in southwest Wisconsin are using the great practices that they're using."

The tour is open to the public, starts at 9 a.m. Friday at the Seven Seeds farm in Spring Green and ends with lunch at the Cates Farm in Spring Green.

Complete information is available along with registration online at michaelfields.org

The tour will highlight the conservation practices of the Iowa County Farmer Led Watershed Group, including no-till corn and soybeans, alley-cropping and unique water-management diversions. Krome said these forward-looking practices have paid off in many ways for the farmers.

"Cutting down on their nutrients and using only what they need is actually saving them money," she said, "but it matters to the fishermen because it's helping them keep the water clean, and they're able to have fish in the Gulf of Mexico when farmers up in the north part of the Mississippi watershed are using these sorts of practices."

At the end of the tour, the fishermen will join the farmers in serving up a brats-and-seafood lunch,

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI