Sustainable Agriculture

For Farmers, Ranchers, and Landowners

USDA Tool for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
A new USDA, tailored web tool designed to connect farm entrepreneurs with programs and resources available to help them get started.
The site features advice and guidance on everything a new farm business owner needs to know, from writing a business plan, to obtaining a loan to grow their business, to filing taxes as a new small business owner. Using the site’s Discovery Tool, farmers can build a personalized set of recommendations of USDA programs and services that may meet their needs.


The Fund-a-Farmer Project, a project of Food Animal Concerns Trust, awards grants for projects that help family farmers transition to pasture-based systems, improve the marketing of their humane products, or more generally to enrich the conditions in which the farm animals are raised. Together with our farmer partners, we are leading our country back to a food system that is both financially and ecologically sustainable.

Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Grants
The Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin (BLBW) competitive grant program was launched in 2008 to strengthen Wisconsin’s agricultural and food industries. The grants work to reduce the marketing, distribution and processing hurdles that impede the expansion of sales of Wisconsin’s food products to local purchasers.

Farmer Rancher Grant Program

NCR-SARE’s Farmer Rancher Grant Program is a competitive grants program for farmers and ranchers who want to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects.
Farmer Rancher grants have funded a variety of topics including pest/disease management, crop and livestock production, education/outreach, networking, quality of life issues, marketing, soil quality, energy, and more.

  • Farmer Rancher grants individual ($7,500 maximum), partner ($15,000 maximum), or group ($22,500 maximum) grants for ideas initiated by farmers and ranchers.
  • Projects may last up to 22 months.
  • About 50 projects are funded each year.


NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers through contracts up to a maximum term of ten years in length. These contracts provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. In addition, a purpose of EQIP is to help producers meet Federal, State, Tribal and local environmental regulations.

Land Stewardship Project’s Seeking Farmers-Seeking Land Clearing house Are you a beginning farmer looking to rent or purchase farmland in the Midwest? Or are you an established farmer/landowner in the Midwest who is seeking a beginning farmer to purchase or rent your land, or to work with in a partnership situation?
Then check out LSP’s Seeking Farmers-Seeking Land Clearinghousefor the latest listings and for details on getting your own listing posted.

Reconstructing Vegetation Past of the Driftless 2014
To know what we should aim for, it helps to know what was there before. This study includes wonderful maps of what the pre-European Driftless landscape consisted of. As it turns out, largely oak savannah!

Farm Land Lease Agreement 2015
With conservation options and stipulations

Publication Highlights Opportunities and Challenges for Organic Transition 
With less than five months remaining in the current fiscal year, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) still has nearly one billion dollars available for farm loans to help family farmers across the country buy land. For new farmers out there, if you’ve been looking for farmland in your area and have been searching for ways to help finance the purchase, check out FSA farm loans to see if they meet your needs. Check out NSAC’s Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs for more information on FSA farm loans, including eligibility criteria and how to apply.

Let’s make food production sustainable and community friendly world-wide

Holistic Mangaged Grazing

KGI Managed Grazing Beef Brief 2015

Kickapoo Grazing Initiative

Managed Grazing in Stream Corridors MN DoAg

Grassworks Small Scale Pastured Hogs

Grassworks has tons of free resources on grass-based farming systems.

Please also refer to our Resources page.

Industrial Agriculture

Sensitive Areas resolution passed by Crawford County Board
At their regularly scheduled meeting on February 20th 2018, the Crawford County Board of Supervisors took up and unanimously passed a resolution urging the State of Wisconsin to recognize southwestern Wisconsin’s karstic geography and sensitivities of groundwater to pollution. This resolution also urged the state improve the oversight of the DNR’s Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) program. See the resolution here.

Petition Supporting a Statewide Moratorium on New and Expanding CAFOs in Wisconsin


Interactive CAFO Map and EPA Impaired Waters

Assessing the NMP Situation: Part 1

Assessing the NMP Situation: Part 2

Farms, Factories and the Future Forum (held on 06/05/21)

Full Day Recording

Farms, Factories, and the Future Forum Discussion Notes:

Roth Fields of Interest:

Pork chops, carrying capacity, and cumulative effects:

The Phosphorus Rule Fact Sheet:

Livestock Agriculture & Water Resources:

Optimum Soil Test Levels for Wisconsin:

Phosphorus In Runoff Pollution in WI:

Progress On the WI P Index:

Legacy Phosphorus & Our Waters:

Regenerative Farming & The Green New Deal

Short Version: The Case for Community Food Utilities

Public Utilities for Community Food Security

Town of Laketown Study as Part of the Moratorium

Disparity To Parity

Industrial Ag in the Driftless: How do we protect our communities? (forum held on 01/20/2018)

Full Day Recording

Scott Dye, Socially Responsible Agricultural Project

Mary Dougherty, Farms not Factories

Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, Geologist

Tressie Kamp, Midwest Environmental Advocates

Mike Mueller, Pioneer Gardens

Dr. John Ikerd, Keynote Address


The Factory Farm Moved In, Now What??, Resource from Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network


Kewaunee County
When Industrial Farming meets Karst Geology

The Rap Sheets
Industrial Dairies in Kewaunee County The Regulatory Failure of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: A Threat to Public Health and the Environment

Kewaunee CARES – Citizens Advocating Responsible Environmental Stewardship

Restore Kewaunee
Great information from one of the areas most hard hit by factory farms.

A Dozen CAFO Talking Points

Properties Devalued by Factory Farms

Map of WI Counties with CAFO 2014

Purdue University Extension
Many quality peer reviewed documents on many aspects of industrialized animal production

Sierra Club (Michigan Chapter)
Good short factsheets on CAFOs, what they are, and how they operate.

Pew Commission Report on Industrial Farm Animal Production recommends solutions to the problems created by concentrated animal feeding operations in four primary areas: public health, the environment, animal welfare, and rural communities. Established through a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Factory Farms – Articles from Family Farm Defenders 

Taxpayer Subsidized Manure Digesters Stimulate Factory Farm Pollution by John Kinsman, Family Farm Defenders 3/14/10
Local letter from Gene Pulera (Richmond Township, Walworth County)with a proposal made to the DNR to ban center pivot liquid manure “irrigation” systems until the health issues are explored
Letter on Multiple Disciplines to Evaluate Health of Center Pivots

These are series of investigative articles concerning factory farms by Ron Seely, published in the Wisconsin State Journal
Factory Farms, Managing Manure 1 – Tracking the rising tide of waste
Factory Farms, Managing Manure 2 – Investigation finds lack of oversite
Factory Farms, Managing Manure 3 – “Stepped Enforcement” means it takes years to resolve problems
Factory Farms, Dairy Power – Dairy lobbyists shape policy
The Factory Next Door 1 – Factory farms nothing like family farms of old
The Factory Next Door 2 – State fines Gold Dust Dairy for violations
The Factory Next Door 3 – In deciding where farms go, communities find they may have to battle the state

The Power to Pollute
Big Agribusiness’s Political Dominance in Madison and Its Impact on Our Waterways Wisconsin Environment Research and Police Center (2014)

Antibiotic Resistance
The Need for Global Solutions
The Lancet Infectious Diseases Commission (2013)

Health Impacts of Industrial Agriculture
Investigating the Role of State Permitting and Agriculture Agencies in Addressing Public Health Concerns Related to Industrial Food Animal Production Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future (2014)

CAFO, the tragedy of industrial animal factories
Read essays, see images, and learn what you can do to change the food system for the better on the website for this powerful book (all 400 pages of which can be yours for a mere $50).

The Food and Environmental Reporting Network –
A Controversial Animal Feed Additive Gets a Closer Look – Dispute Over Drug in Feed Limiting US Meat Exports
Milk and Water Don’t Mix – How a chain-smoking Texan forced the New Mexico dairy industry to clean up its act

The Meatrix –
The Meatrix website offers information on the issues surrounding factory farming:, The Meatrix Interactive 360°, a tool to help people learn about factory farming, with in depth information on the issues; Animated movies – humorous and creative satires that use pop culture and entertainment to educate viewers about the food they eat and where it comes from; and The Eat Well Guide, an online directory of sustainable food from farms, stores and restaurants in North America, which was launched with the original movie to help people take action.

Grace Factory Farm Project –
Grace Communications Foundation highlights the interconnections of food, water, and energy, educating consumers, advocates, and policy makers through web-based initiatives.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

National Factory Farming Map –
US and State Maps of concentrations of CAFOs, plus interesting facts.

Socially Responsible Agriculture Project –
Guide to Confronting a Factory Farm