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Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Lead the Way in Cultivating Sustainability

Written by Halei Heinzel, Wisconsin's 77th Alice in Dairyland, as part of her Top Candidate submission.

It’s no surprise that the dairy industry is a major economic driver here in America’s Dairyland. Wisconsin’s dairy industry contributes $45.6 billion to the state’s economy each year. This is more than Idaho potatoes and Florida citrus combined! On the 5,600 dairy farms in Wisconsin, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword – it’s a way of life.

At the heart of sustainability is a commitment to environmental stewardship. Farmers have long recognized the importance of caring for their land and preserving its natural resources by using innovations that protect soil health, maintain water quality, and reduce their carbon footprint. By using cover crops, practicing proper manure management, and utilizing precision agriculture, dairy farmers strive to minimize their environmental impact while maximizing the productivity of their land. By embracing new technologies in agriculture, farmers are ensuring the sustainability of Wisconsin’s dairy industry for generations to come.

Animal welfare is also at the forefront of sustainability. Through rigorous health care protocols, third party audits, advancements in cow comfort, and upholding the highest standards in animal welfare, dairy farmers show their dedication to caring for their animals. They understand that healthy, comfortable cows are essential for maintaining the highest milk quality and cow productivity. In fact, advances in cattle care and genetics have led to more milk being produced today, with only nine million cows in 2024 compared to 26 million cows in 1944.

Dairy farm sustainability extends well past the barn doors and into their local communities. Farmers have deep roots in their communities and actively support local businesses, schools, and charitable organizations. Through dairy breakfasts, farm tours, and farmers' markets, dairy farmers are helping to bridge the gap between urban and rural communities, educating the next generation of Wisconsin agriculturalists.

As we look toward the future, dairy farmers are leading the way in creating a sustainable future for everyone. Their dedication to environmental stewardship, animal welfare, and community involvement proves that sustainability isn’t just a goal but an achievable reality. If you would like to learn more about how dairy farmers are caring for their animals, land, and communities, visit


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