wisconsin soybean

Ag road grant program now open

Categories: WSA, WSMBPublished On: March 12, 20242.6 min read

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By Jordan Lamb, The Welch Group

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) is now accepting applications for the first round of grant funding from the new Agricultural Road Improvement Program (ARIP). This new state grant program will provide $150 million to local governments for qualifying agricultural road improvement projects across rural Wisconsin. The first round of grant applications will award $50 million in grants and is open until April 5, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. The second round will award $100 in grants and will open for applications sometime in mid- to late-2024.

Background. The ARIP program was created in legislation passed in 2023 and was funded in the 2023-25 biennial state budget bill. Senators Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), Cory Tomczyk (R-Mosinee) and Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan), and Representatives Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) and Nancy VanderMeer (R-Tomah) authored the legislation. The legislation creates a grant program for local governments to apply for funding to upgrade posted roads that create problems for farmers and agribusiness.

Eligible Projects. To be eligible for an ARIP grant, the route or structure must have been posted for weight for at least one month in the previous year, must be maintained by a local government, be classified as a local road or minor collector, and must provide access to agricultural lands or facilities. Stand-alone bridge and culvert projects are limited to structures under 20 feet in length. Local governments applying for ARIP grants can expect to have 90 percent of the costs for these projects funded by the state grant dollars.

Grant Criteria. Priority for awarding ARIP grants will be given to applications for projects that provide the greatest benefit to agricultural producers using the following criteria:

  • Provides the greatest positive economic impact.
  • Provides access to the largest number of farmers or volume of agricultural goods.
  • Improves the only practicable access to a farm field or facility.
  • Results in the reduction of cost for farmers due to repeated trips at reduced weight, labor, fuel, mileage, or wear on agricultural equipment.

Contact Your Local Government – Ask to Assist with an Application. Farmers should work with their local governments to identify eligible roads and to assemble the required information needed to complete and submit the grant application. Local governments will need assistance from affected farmers and agribusiness to complete the required economic information that is part of the grant application.  The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation has created a fillable form that is designed to assist farmers and other agribusiness with collecting and providing required economic data to local officials. The questions on the form correspond directly to the questions on the ARIP grant application. (Note: This form is NOT part of the ARIP application. This form is an optional tool designed to assist in the collection of information required to complete an application.)