The Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance (DSSA) is a collaborative, industry supported effort to promote and support farmer-led solutions to today’s environmental challenges, taking into account business viability and community engagement.
The alliance was established in 2016 and driven primarily by the Dairy Business Association, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative and The Nature Conservancy.
The DSSA currently supports farmer-led watershed conservation initiatives around Wisconsin, with potential for growth in other states. These non-profit organizations work to foster innovation and shared learning among members to bring about continuous measurable improvements in areas such as water quality and soil health by exploring on-farm conservation strategies such as cover crops and low-disturbance manure injection.
Mutual goals of a farmer-led conservation group and the DSSA are met through the partnership. DSSA services provide the opportunity for the farmer-led group to achieve increased membership, revenue and community engagement.
Collaborating with the DSSA is intended to make more efficient use of time for farmers and group collaborators. Additionally, services provided help the group maintain a professional image and assist the group in realizing goals.
DSSA serves as an incubator and support system for the organizations. The alliance offers various services that each group can choose from depending on its individual needs. Examples include administrative support, communications, strategic services and connections with experts. DSSA also serves as a conduit between the farmer organizations, experts and other entities that can add value and help in achieving their goals and amplifying their stories.
DSSA can also serve as a funding vehicle to help groups secure money for research projects or other initiatives.
A new resource is available Producer-Led Group Roadmap: A guide to farmers and their partners in conservation on the road to success
This document is the result of a collaboration between the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), the Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance (DSSA) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The intended audience for this roadmap is for groups that are either funded through the Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grant (PLWPG) program at DATCP or for those groups that are currently functioning without funding from the program.
These farmer-led organizations foster innovation and shared learning among members to bring about continuous measurable improvements in areas such as water quality and soil health by exploring on-farm conservation practices.
This document guides groups through all of the necessary steps to be successful as a farmer-led watershed organization including setting goals, membership requirements, securing DATCP and outside funding, tracking outcomes, documenting progress, establishing communications, developing work plans and reporting.
Watch the DSSA introduction webinar:
Foster environmental, economic and social stewardship
Ensure long-term viability of dairy farms and related businesses
Proactively align with company/customer demands
Demonstrate commitment to community
Show science-based outcomes
Build relationships with legislators to showcase improvements
Engage with community through positive discussion
Farm groups: Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance, Peninsula Pride Farms, Western Wisconsin Conservation Council