Farmers lead the way in environmental stewardship

Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 3:57 PM CDT
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CADOTT, Wis. (WEAU) - It’s Earth Week and events are happening in the Chippewa Valley and across the globe to demonstrate support for environmental protection. However, local farmers are leading the charge on environmental stewardship year-round.

Bob Panzer has been a farmer for 37 years and has spent 10 seasons on his farm in Cadott. For him, farming has always been an opportunity to protect the environment.

“That’s what farming here means to me, making some money and protecting our soil,” Panzer said.

Panzer uses a variety of conservation practices on his farm.

“We use cover crops. We’ve used prairie seeding in some cases. We entered some land along the creek here in CREP, a program that pays for environmental important land to be protected. We’ve done that because the Clear Creek runs through our farm here. We also do forestry management here in oak regeneration programs.”

He’s even been using solar energy on his farm since May, 2014.

“We produce about 80% of our solar energy for the farm here,” Panzer said.

But what he’s most proud of is helping to create the Chippewa Valley Producer-Led Watershed Council last summer. The council is made up of area farmers, crop consultants, and conservationists.

“We have people from all over Chippewa county participating. So it’s been it’s been exciting and a great group of farmers,” Panzer said.

Panzer said the council is working to improve the health of it’s local watershed and share best practices for sustainable farming.

“The whole valley’s impacted by what farmers do here, so we’re all working together on this, all farm organizations in the county and promoting good practice and demonstrating that,” Panzer said.

He also said the main mission of the council is to ensure a future in farming for new generations.

The Chippewa Valley Producer-Led Watershed Council was awarded a $10,000 grant last fall from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to continue its sustainable farming initiatives.

In June, they will be holding a “From Land to Lakes” event where people can get a tour highlighting conservation practices on a farm and Lake Wissota tour featuring water quality efforts. More information and events can be found here.