Yahara Pride Farms was honored by the The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, during its fifth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards ceremony May 11 in Chicago.
The program recognizes dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose sustainable practices positively impact the health and well-being of customers, communities, animals and the environment. Yahara Pride Farms received the award for Outstanding Achievement in Resource Stewardship.
Yahara Pride Farms brings together farmers, agronomists and UW Extension along with local municipal services, water advocates and businesses to proactively support community and environmental health and fiscal sustainability. This rapidly growing partnership focuses on soil conservation and effective manure management in order to improve land and waterways in Dane County, WI.
A voluntary certification program recognizes individual farms for nutrient management successes, and educational events share best practices for preserving soil and water quality. One of the most innovative solutions implemented by Yahara Pride Farms is a cost-sharing program giving farmers the opportunity to test new technologies with minimized risk.
In 2015, farmers in the program documented the adoption of practices that reduced phosphorus delivery by 8,642 lbs. Since 2012, farmers have documented a total phosphorus delivery reduction of 15,872 lbs.
'Clean water is critical to the community and to agriculture. As farmers we play a role in water quality,' said Jeff Endres, chair of Yahara Pride Farms. 'Part of our success stems from the group's ability to work together towards a solution without pointing fingers.'
More than 45 farms in the Yahara watershed participate in the program. The watershed begins in southern Columbia County, through Dane County and extends into northern Rock County. In addition to a rich farming history, the urban Yahara watershed is also home to Madison, surrounding suburbs and the University of Wisconsin.
Judges for the U.S. Sustainability Awards evaluated the nominees' sustainability practices based on their economic, environmental and community impact, also known as triple-bottom-line success. The independent judging panel also looked for learning, innovation, improvement, scalability and replicability.
Established in 2012, Yahara Pride Farms is a farmer-led 501c(3) non-profit organization that strives to preserve agricultural heritage while simultaneously encouraging farmers to engage in proactive environmental stewardship within the Yahara Watershed.