Competitive grant funds will be available for technical assistance, education and research projects in management-intensive grazing, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Applications for all projects must be postmarked by Nov. 12.

"Managed grazing is a means for dairy and livestock producers to raise high-quality forage at a low cost," state ag secretary Randy Romanski says. "Trimming production costs is a high priority for farmers. These grazing grants help provide the technical assistance, research and education many farmers are asking for."

State and federal sources will provide financial support. Projects will be funded competitively after final funding levels are known, with grants available no later than next spring. Eligible applicants include county, state and federal agriculture and natural resource agencies; colleges and universities; non-profit organizations; grazing networks; and farmers who wish to do on-farm research.

"This program has strong support at both the state and federal level," says Laura Paine, program coordinator. "We have a good track record of effective projects. Education grants support the activities of grazing networks and allow organizations and agencies to conduct grazing schools, workshops and conferences on management-intensive grazing, whereas technical assistance grants provide funds for grazing specialists to work one-on-one with farmers to develop their grazing systems."

The research program requires farmer involvement from planning onward. On-farm projects are especially encouraged, but research can be conducted as University of Wisconsin farmer-assisted projects as well. "We've supported a wide range of research projects from soil fertility to dairy cow grazing behavior," Paine says. "The key is to make it relevant to the farmers' needs."

Materials for the 2011 grant application will be available on the department's Web site the week of Oct. 4. Click here or go to the DATCP home page and search for "grazer grants."