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Riding a wave of momentum entering 2023, Farmers for Sustainable Food stands poised to expand their efforts in farmer-led sustainability projects, according to leadership. Members, leaders and industry partners gathered for FSF’s 2022 annual meeting on Jan. 19 at the Dairy Strong conference.

Word is spreading about the nonprofit’s work. FSF membership has grown to 51, including 11 newcomers in 2022. By partnering with seven farmer-led conservation groups across Wisconsin, FSF now works with 300 farmers representing 260,428 acres and 165,987 head of livestock.

FSF continues to show growth not only through farmers and acres but also with projects, including expanding into the animal care space, and conservation practices implemented throughout the Upper Midwest.

Managing Director Lauren Brey gave an overview of plans for continued growth, enhanced through a $50 million USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant FSF received with its sister organization Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.

“We’ve outlined three different avenues for these climate-smart projects, including farmer-led groups and working with dairy and beet sugar processors to spearhead projects with farmers in their supply chains,” Brey said. “Our approach is really trying to be flexible and not prescribing practices or prescribing a way of doing a sustainability project, but rather just getting farmers to be proactive.”

A representative from each farmer-led conservation group supported by FSF shared highlights of local activities. The groups: Calumet County Ag Stewardship Alliance, Dodge County Farmers Healthy Soil Healthy Water, Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance (LASA), Peninsula Pride Farms (PPF), Sheboygan River Progressive Farmers, Western Wisconsin Conservation Council (WWCC) and Yahara Pride Farms (YPF).

“We aren’t just talking about making a positive impact in our watershed; we are doing it,” Jeff Endres, YPF president, said.

Members of FSF re-elected three directors to its board —Paul Cornette of PPF, Lee Kinnard of Kinnard Farms and Greg Steele of Compeer Financial. Steele was elected treasurer and Cornette will remain vice president.

Other board members include Todd Doornink representing WWCC, the president; Holly Bellmund of GLC Minerals will remain secretary; Colleen Geurts; Jeff Endres of YPF; Lynn Thornton of Grande Cheese and Mike Berget of LASA.