Wisconsin is a state that is home to a number of farmer-led conservation programs, such as UW-Discovery Farms, that are devoted to tackling environmental issues and promoting sustainability. In order to gain a better understanding of the attitudes of dairy farmers towards extreme weather events and their willingness to implement beneficial management practices, six focus groups were conducted in New York and Pennsylvania, and a social science survey was conducted on dairy farmers mainly in the Midwest and Northeast. Eight farms were chosen to participate in the project, including five operating dairies, two university research dairies, and a USDA ARS research farm. The responsibilities of the researchers and staff involved range from collecting data in the field or in the barn to analyzing USDA data related to the dairy industry and sustainability and developing websites. The Dairy CAP team presented eight abstracts at the annual meeting of the Sustainability Council for Innovation at the U.
Innovation Center. Joyce Cooper from the University of Washington is leading the development of data for the USDA LCA Digital Commons, an open access database and toolset created by the USDA National Agriculture Library. Companies can apply for recognition based on their efforts in terms of recycling, waste prevention, energy and water conservation, as well as environmentally sustainable practices in purchasing, transportation, and environmental defense among staff. The Dairy Management Institute (DMI) scientists are leading a project to address research gaps in the production of feedingstuffs and fertilizers based on manure. This will allow new markets, incentives and investments in the sustainability of dairy products.
Field experiments will be conducted in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York to measure greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions, soil C retention, and soil and forage quality. This will create a database that provides reference data on emissions and data for the evaluation of sustainable practices. Eau Claire was one of the first companies to receive Green Business designation from the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce. The New Zealand Institute (NZI) is working to help the industry move towards its collective goals, harness untapped value to support economic viability, and allow other industries and communities to be more sustainable. The change in knowledge will allow a better understanding of where greenhouse gas emissions are highest in the dairy production system, where they can be reduced and what adaptation strategies should be implemented.