- Animal Products: dairy
- Animal Production: manure management
- Crop Production: nutrient cycling
- Education and Training: extension
- Farm Business Management: agricultural finance
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
- Pest Management: integrated pest management
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, integrated crop and livestock systems
- Soil Management: soil analysis
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life
Sustainable dairy farming practices enhance the natural environment and herd health while ensuring profitability and improving the quality of life for farmers, their families and their communities. Farmers, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, UVM Extension and UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture have formed a Dairy Stewardship Alliance. Together, we are developing a self-assessment for dairy farmers which will promote a broader use of sustainable agriculture practices. The purposes of this project are to: 1) to provide dairy farmers with an on-farm self-assessment tool; 2) increase education on sustainable dairy farming practices; and 3) to identify areas of technical assistance to be provided through Cooperative Extension. The Dairy Stewardship Alliance’s Self Assessment is made up of ten modules that include clear environmental, economic and social indicators ranging from practices in animal husbandry to energy conservation to farm financials to nutrient and soil health management. Farmers have requested assistance to better understand state and federal Accepted Agricultural Practices (AAP) and Large and Medium Farm (LFO/MFO) regulations. Dairy farmers participated in initial field-testing, which led to the development of a useable draft of the self-assessment tool kit. During the initial year, ten farmers completed a thorough baseline assessment of the ten modules. This proposal will move forward with more complete professional editing and full implementation of the assessment modules.
Performance targets from proposal:
Of 520 farms in the dairy co-op, 52 will participate in the Dairy Stewardship Self Assessment and 40 (75%) of these will each improve at least 2 identified sustainable production practices in the areas of animal husbandry, biodiversity, community health, energy efficiency, farm financials, nutrient management, organic practices, pest management, soil health management, and water management.
The Alliance will develop goals and a method for full implementation, including the provision of guidance for Acceptable Agricultural Practices and in meeting the standards of the recent Water Quality Permit legislation related to LFO/ MFO permit requirements.