Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance (DSSA)


To be a catalyst in driving innovation, collaboration and progress for sustainability in the dairy community.

Guiding Principles

  • Continuous improvement
  • Inclusivity
  • Voluntary participation
  • Innovation over compliance
  • Measured outcomes over mandated practices
  • Data privacy
  • Sustainability + profitability
  • Maintaining “freedom to farm”
  • Sharing dairy’s positive story
  • Adequate food supply for future generations

Desired Outcomes

  • 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

About the DSSA:

The Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance (DSSA) is a collaborative group that includes all aspects of the dairy community, including: farmers, processors (including packaging), dairy product and service providers, transportation, conservation groups, CPG companies, retailers, government agencies, universities and dairy and trade non-profits. All dairy management philosophies are welcome.

Why the DSSA:

Organized in the Spring of 2016, the goal of the DSSA is to show tangible results in the areas of land use, soil conservation, nutrient management, water quality and use, energy use, animal welfare, food safety, greenhouse emissions, economic health and social responsibility.  The DSSA achieves these goals by taking existing sustainability tools and applying them to early and mid-stage grassroots efforts led by farmers – individually or as part of a watershed. Data from each group is compiled annually. Customers and retailers have certain expectations when it comes to food and the DSSA provides a holistic approach that satisfies customers while preserving our dairy heritage.

Who we are:

The DSSA is comprised of diverse organizations who embrace the journey of continuous improvement towards an even more sustainable dairy supply chain. All outcomes of the DSSA’s work are pre-competitive and will be made available to the entire dairy community. Interested collaborators should contact Maria Woldt, director of industry relations to determine the appropriate level of involvement.

DSSA collaborators include:

  • American Society of Agronomy
  • Dairy Business Association
  • Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative
  • Foremost Farms USA
  • Grassland Dairy Products
  • Innovation Center for US Dairy
  • KCoe Isom
  • Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Peninsula Pride Farms
  • Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association
  • Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey
  • Western Wisconsin Conservation Council
  • Yahara Pride Farms

With expertise from:

  • Field to Market
  • National Milk Producers Federation
  • US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance

Here is what people are saying about the program:

Steve Richter, Director of Conservation Programs, The Nature Conservancy Wisconsin Field Office 

“The Nature Conservancy is excited to be a part of this project to face the challenge of reducing the level of phosphorus and sediment entering Wisconsin’s rivers and lakes. To make a significant difference at the scale of the state, or ultimately up and down the Mississippi River we need the active leadership of the dairy supply chain and dairy farmers. Farmers can drive the biggest impacts and take the beneficial practices from our projects to scale the fastest way.  The Nature Conservancy is going to bring our science expertise to these projects, and we’re excited to find common ground with the Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance doing ‘on-the-ground’ projects to make things happen.”

Jeff Endres, Chair, Yahara Pride Farms, Inc.

“Yahara Pride Farms started five years ago with the idea that farmers are great stewards of the land and are in a position to have a huge environmental impact because agriculture is vast. But beyond the scale of agriculture in the Yahara Watershed, farmers can make the biggest impact because we are innovators and we want to challenge ourselves to do better every year. In just five short years, Yahara Pride Farms has reduced phosphorus delivery to the Madison chain of lakes and the Yahara River by over 15,000 pounds. We are proud to support the Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance because we believe that agriculture needs to continue to lead the way with sustainable ideas and farm practices. What we have started here in Dane County can and should be replicated across the state and eventually the nation to assure consumer confidence.”

Karen Scanlon, Vice President, Sustainability, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

“Since 2008, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy has fostered collaboration to ensure an economically viable and socially responsible U.S. dairy community, farm to table. We are committed to continuous improvement, and customers/consumers want to know what steps we are taking. Through Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance we will see how Wisconsin farmers are improving soil, water, and air while growing successful businesses.

John Umhoefer, Executive Director, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association

“We know that our natural resources are finite and precious, and that Wisconsin agriculture – like all other industries – must protect our soil and water and air. In forming this alliance - including environmental advocates, dairy farmers, dairy processors, academics and government leaders - we can better compare notes. Together, we will have more ideas, more data and more power to effect meaningful improvements in sustainable practices.”

Tim Trotter, Executive Director, Dairy Business Association

“There is so much great work being done on all levels of the dairy supply chain, but we need a way to bring all the pieces together to create an even more powerful impact on dairy sustainability – impact that’s supported by data. The role of the Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance is to bring all the collaborators together, from farm to table, to focus on measurable results that lead to continuous improvement at every step.”

Steve Peterson, SLP, LLC, Formerly of General Mills, DSSA Mentor

“More than 80% of  American consumers consider sustainability when buying food. DSSA leads sustainable development of the Wisconsin dairy industry.”


Maria Woldt
Director of Industry Relations
Sustainability lead
(608) 577-4345