Farmers launch environmental stewardship alliance in Lafayette County
DARLINGTON, Wis. (Aug. 29, 2017) — A diverse group of farmers have come together to enhance the stewardship of natural resources in Lafayette County.
The Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance (LASA), which was announced today, will identify and promote conservation practices that demonstrate continuous improvement in farming methods that protect water quality, said Jim Winn, a dairy farmer from Wiota and chairman of the new group.
The farmer-led, nonprofit organization, sets forth three main responsibilities: protecting natural resources, empowering members to continuously improve and giving the public an inside view of farming practices, Winn said.
“All of us in the community share in the responsibility of protecting the quality of our water. As farmers, we realize and accept our role,” Winn said.
Sixteen farmers, representing 23,000 animals and 56,000 acres of farmland, already are on board. Members include crop farmers, beef farmers and a pig farmer. The farms are of all sizes and types, including one organic dairy.
“Farmers are innovative but we are also independent. Through LASA, we want to create a collaborative atmosphere in which we come together to share what is working and what isn’t,” Winn said. “There is a lot we can learn from each other. And we want to empower members with tools to keep improving.”
LASA has been in the making for a year as organizers learned from other successful farmer-led watershed groups and recruited members.
The organization will tap into university research and scientists to set benchmarks in conservation practices and measure progress, Winn said. The group also will provide education and outreach through things like on-farm demonstrations for farmers and the public. Today’s announcement came during a field day at one of the member farms where participants learned about things like cover crops and low-disturbance manure injection technology.
LASA has formed with support from the Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance (DSSA), a diverse group of partners who work to ensure that all touchpoints in the production of dairy foods are continuously improving.
As part of that alliance, LASA joins a host of other partners charged with developing dairy-focused sustainability projects: American Society of Agronomy, Dairy Business Association, Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative, Foremost Farms USA, Grassland Dairy Products, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, The Nature Conservancy, Peninsula Pride Farms, Praedium Ventures, LLC, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey and Yahara Pride Farms.
Steve Richter, director of conservation programs in Wisconsin for The Nature Conservancy, said his group sees great potential for LASA.
“Farmers can take beneficial practices to scale the fastest way,” he said. “We are excited to support a project of this scale and scope in a region where we have experienced previous success.”
Winn shared LASA’s core values:
- Empower farmers to continuously improve
- Set high expectations and persistently pursue them
- Look to science and technology for guidance
- Support each other, our neighbors and the greater community
- Collaborate with solution-oriented stakeholders
- Cultivate an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect
“Whether or not you farm, we all want clean and safe water for our families and community,” Winn said.
About Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance: Established in 2017, Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance is a farmer-led 501c(3) non-profit organization with a vision of a community where farmers and friends of agriculture work together to protect and improve our water quality and environment. For more information go to lafayetteagstewardship.org.
For more information, contact:
Maria Woldt, communications
Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance
(608) 577-4345 | firstname.lastname@example.org