Governor Laura Kelly today visited the farm of Henry and Tracy Hill near Holton, Kansas, to celebrate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarding $750,000 to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment as part of its Farmer to Farmer grant program.

KDHE is one of 11 organizations sharing nearly $11 million total in Farmer to Farmer grant funding, which will be used to support soil health, habitat, resilience, and peer-to-peer information exchange among farmers to improve water quality and protect Kansans’ health.

“We owe it to our kids, grandkids, and all future generations of Kansans to leave our state better than we found it,” Governor Kelly said. “This grant will allow Kansas farmers to balance the need to increase agricultural productivity with the need to take care of our planet. I want to thank the EPA for its partnership and KDHE for working with our communities to distribute these funds that will improve water quality in Kansas and protect our environment.”

While farmers are working in watersheds to produce food, fuel, and fiber, they are also managing challenges across the landscape to minimize pollution occurring from a variety of locations known as “nonpoint sources,” specifically the excess nitrogen and phosphorous that can enter water bodies through runoff or soil erosion. Farmers are often the first line of action in reducing nonpoint source pollution and have developed innovative practices and models to share their knowledge with others.

“The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is excited to be part of the Farmer to Farmer Program and the opportunities this initiative will bring to our state’s environment,” Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary, said. “By providing our farmers with the coaching to facilitate regenerative agriculture adoption across the Kansas landscape, we can increase water holding capacity of our fields and protect the watersheds that we all live in.”

“Kansas farmers and ranchers have a strong tradition of conservation that stretches back to the 1930s to fight the Dust Bowl,” Kansas Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam said. “Locally led conservation efforts are just as important today as they were then. Innovation, ingenuity, and partnership are crucial to protecting our natural resources while increasing the productivity of our agricultural systems.”

“EPA is proud to support the leadership of farmers and their innovative approaches to improve water quality while working to fuel and feed the world,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said. “EPA is committed to meaningful partnerships with farmers to advance sustainable agriculture practices while creating healthy, clean, and safe environments for all.”

“It is critically important that we work with states, nonprofits, the private sector, and farmers to reduce agriculture-related nutrients in our waters,” Acting EPA Region 7 Administrator Edward H. Chu said. “The Farmer to Farmer program generates ideas and action by targeting funds on local solutions where we can make the greatest difference. I’m pleased that this funding will go to educate and empower farmers to implement best practices in their operations to reduce nutrient loads and improve water quality in local watersheds.”

The below photos of today’s event are available for media use:

Learn more about this year’s Farmer to Farmer grant awards here.

About Farmer to Farmer:

Farmer to Farmer grant funding is available to develop innovative practices within farming communities, measure the results of those practices, and identify how the practices will be incorporated into farming operations. Under this grant program, proposals will carry out project activities using one or more of the following methods: surveys, studies, research, investigation, experimentation, education, training, and/or demonstrations.

This grant program is managed by the Gulf of Mexico Division, which is a non-regulatory program of EPA founded to facilitate collaborative actions to protect, maintain, and restore the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico in ways consistent with the economic well-being of the region.

To carry out its mission, the Gulf of Mexico Division continues to maintain and expand partnerships with state and federal agencies, federally recognized tribes, local governments and authorities, academia, regional business and industry, agricultural and environmental organizations, and individual citizens and communities.