Wisconsin dairy farmer Dean Strauss of Majestic Crossing Dairy was presented with a national award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability at the eighth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award ceremony May 8 in Rosemont, Ill. The farm was one of three national winners in their category.
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, established under the leadership of dairy farmers and leading companies, recognizes dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals and the planet. The award winners represent dairy’s commitment to sustainability, demonstrating how transparency and ingenuity lead to sustainable and scalable practices that benefit their businesses, communities and the environment.
Judges evaluated dozens of nominations based on their economic, environmental and community impact. The independent judging panel — including experts working with and throughout the dairy community — also considered learning, innovation, scalability and replicability.
“We had many high-quality entries and winners who make sustainable practices a priority in their own operations,” said judge Suzy Friedman, senior director of agricultural sustainability at Environmental Defense Fund. “Even better, their leadership can spark positive change across other parts of the dairy industry with practices that can be replicated.”
The 2,000 cows at Majestic Crossing Dairy are the result of a unique strategic shift when co-owner Dean Strauss began building a herd of crossbreeds. The cows are typically smaller, requiring less feed and producing less manure. Strauss has adopted a GPS guidance system on his tractors and other machinery that helps identify efficiencies in seed distribution as well as reducing fuel, pesticide and fertilizer use on the 3,600 acres of crops grown to feed the cows. Majestic Crossing Dairy also invested in robotic milking machines that have reduced the farm’s water use by 30 percent, or about 20 gallons per cow each day.
“We are humbled and honored to receive this award,” Strauss said. “In 2011, four families that had been dairy farming in the area for generations came together to form Majestic Crossing Dairy. This partnership has allowed us to support all four families, expand our sustainability efforts and invest back in our community. Our commitment begins with taking excellent care of our land and our animals.”
The dairy participates in the FARM Program Animal Care and recently completed the FARM Program Environmental Stewardship module to show customers and consumers that the dairy industry is taking the very best care of cows and the environment, producing safe, wholesome milk and adhering to the highest standards of workforce development.
“Majestic Crossing Dairy is one of the most innovative and groundbreaking dairies in Wisconsin,” said Shelly Mayer, executive director of Professional Dairy Producers, who submitted the nomination. “The dairy believes in keeping an open mind on new practices.”
The farm encourages its owners and employees to take time for their families and community activities. Strauss is a board member of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; serves on the executive board for the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin Board; is financial secretary of his church; serves on the township Farmland Preservation Committee; and is past chairman of the Dairy Policy Committee for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau.