Douglas County is part of 20 counties in Minnesota that will receive money to help farmers undertake conservation measures on irrigated lands.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is awarding the funds through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. A total of $3.5 million is being awarded through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and will fund a five-year project that's focused on the 20 counties in the state.

“We are grateful for this funding from NRCS,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “Irrigation is critical for many of our farmers, and this money will allow us to work with producers and our partners to enhance conservation measures on the land that will ultimately benefit our water resources.”

“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is public-private partnership working at its best,” said Terry Cosby, acting chief for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “These new projects will harness the power of partnership to help bring about solutions to natural resource concerns across the country while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis.”

Through the RCPP, conservation partners like the Minnesota Department of Agriculture work in collaboration with NRCS and Soil and Water Conservation Districts to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners throughout the nation to implement systems that conserve water and soil resources, improve the health of wildlife habitats and increase climate resilience.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

The MDA project, “Implementing Innovative Irrigation Practices to Protect Groundwater Quality and Quantity,” will work directly with agricultural producers using irrigation to implement conservation practices that protect groundwater and promote expanded precision irrigation practices.

The ag department has partnered with SWCDs, educational institutions like Central Lakes College and the University of Minnesota, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, irrigation associations, and other public and private organizations to implement the project.

The 20 Soil and Water Conservation Districts in the project area are: Becker, Benton, Cass, Dakota, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Kandiyohi, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Wadena, and Washington.

The irrigation project is one of 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships receiving more than $330 million as part of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

For more information, visit the RCPP website.