In 2016, Land O'Lakes, Inc. formed Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN, a business unit viewed as a natural extension of its member-farmers' longstanding commitment to caring for natural resources. And since then, our team has been hard at work introducing new programs and quantifying the ongoing efforts of our farmer owners.
“Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN is actively elevating our company and our cooperative network as we leverage our farm to fork scope to proactively meet changing sustainability drivers,” says Matt Carstens, Senior Vice President of Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN. “We’re actively partnering with our members to deliver projects, tools and services and that enhance sustainability across the value chain.”
In recognition of this effort, Land O’Lakes recently honored a small group of inspiring farmers on the cutting edge of conservation and sustainability at the Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN Farmer Recognition and Innovation Summit.
For these farmers, who represent operations from across the United States and Canada, the secret to strong on-farm conservation is simple – it’s all about staying connected.
“Our award winners are leaders in our industry whose efforts are critical to our ability to share Land O’Lakes’ collective sustainability story with customers and consumers,” says Leah Anderson, Vice President of Member Relations. “I want to thank each of them for their engagement in the co-op and their commitment to sustainable farming.”
Outstanding Sustainability Award
Farmers like Nick and Tara Meyer of Meyer Dairy LLC in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, and Matt Rezac of Rezac Farms in Weston, Nebraska were honored with the Outstanding Sustainability Award for their understanding that what they do to improve air, soil and water quality supports positive environmental, economic and social impacts across their farms and communities.
Nick and Tara Meyer have truly integrated sustainability into every aspect of their farm. Their comprehensive efforts focus on everything from the crops they grow to the cows they feed to the milk they produce.
Matt Rezac is a staunch advocate for the agronomic practices implemented on his farm. He also relishes any opportunity to demonstrate the positive economic and environmental impacts as a result of those practices.
Advocacy Award winners the Harnish family of Central Manor Dairy in Washington Boro, Pennsylvania, and Steve Carpenter of Red Rock View Farms in Darlington, Wisconsin, were honored for connecting with stakeholders off the farm.
The Harnish family strives to be transparent in their farming practices and seeks to engage their community to help consumers understand the “how” and the “why” behind what on-farm sustainability. Steve Harnish has educated hundreds of local students over the last decade and has been a tireless advocate for sustainable agriculture at all levels of government.
Steve Carpenter is a leader and an advocate for sustainable agriculture in various conservation organizations, agriculture associations and Land O’Lakes. Steve is also an innovative farmer, always open to new ideas to improve the production and sustainability of his operation.
Finally, this year’s Innovation Award winners are pioneering new conservation practices and technologies. By connecting with other farms and sharing what works, Rick, Becky and Rod Hissong of Mercer-Vu Farms in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania and Pat Janssen of Janssen Beef and Grain in Greensburg, Kansas, are working to improve the sustainability of not only their farms and communities, but of their peers and neighbors as well.
Rick, Becky and Rod Hissong’s innovative manure management system maximizes the value of manure to increase the economic viability of their operation, while better protecting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Their system has successfully improved the surrounding air and water quality and is a model for successful manure management.
Pat Janssen’s dedication to nutrient use efficiency and precision water use help him significantly reduce his environmental impact. His innovative approach to reducing soil erosion, nutrient runoff and water loss are also proven cost-effective farm management strategies.
Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN is rooted in the idea that meaningful sustainability is owned and driven by these farmers and thousands more like them.
“This group of award winners are on the leading edge of our efforts, helping us drive sustainability throughout our co-op system,” says Matt. “We continue to seek out new ways to provide tools, practices and expertise, like the new Conservation Dairy and Conservation Agronomy programs, or the Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN Innovation Financing program to our farmers.”
A successful SUSTAIN means a healthier planet, with dramatic improvements in soil health and water and air quality; healthier rural and farm economies, with more money in the pockets of farmers; and stronger relationships between consumers and those who work hard to feed them.