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Nearly 700 Acres of Dane County Cropland to be Converted to Continuous, Perennial Cover to Help Preserve Small Family Farms, Rural Lands

April 16, 2020
Ariana Vruwink, 608-267-8823
County Executive

Caps off Second Successful Year of Dane County’s Continuous Cover Program; Since 2019, More Than 1,200 Acres Have Been or Are in the Process of Being Converted

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced nearly 700 acres of annual row crops will be converted into continuous, perennial cover in Dane County thanks to the success of its Continuous Cover Program. Designed to reduce run-off, enhance carbon sequestration, and preserve rural character, interest in the county’s effort was overwhelming for a second year in a row. The more than 40 landowners set to benefit from the program’s second cycle belong to 23 different townships and 13 watersheds.

“We are happy to have farmers in our community use the Continuous Cover Program as an opportunity to make ends meet during this time of economic hardship and preserve the character of their land,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Through this effort, small family farms and rural property owners will be able to make their land less vulnerable to flooding and protect their land for conservation efforts in the face of expanding development pressures.”

After a successful cycle in 2019, County Executive Joe Parisi doubled funding for the Continuous Cover Program in his 2020 budget to $1.5 million, providing more landowners with the opportunity to participate. This year nearly 60 applications were received totaling almost 1,000 acres and amounting to over $2.1 million. Since Dane County debuted this program in 2019, more than 1,200 acres have been or are in the process of being converted.

The benefits of the Continuous Cover Program include reducing phosphorus and carbon emissions, protecting lands for conservation in the face of expanding development pressures, and promoting habitats good for pollinators who continue to face adversity from challenges like pesticides and climate change. It offers landowners/farmers a tool to diversify or address marginally productive lands. Not only does this program address environmentally sensitive areas, but it also helps protect small farms and rural lands.

Dane County’s Land and Water Resources Department held an application sign-up period from January 6 through February 28, 2020. Properties will be converted to continuous cover through a variety of practices including: prescribed grazing, pasture establishment, cool season grass establishment, native prairie, and pollinator habitat. Those who enroll in the program commit to keeping and maintaining their land in perennial cover for at least 15 years.

To learn more about Dane County’s Continuous Cover Program, visit, or call the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department at (608) 224-3730.