Contact: Jamie Mara, director of public relations
Dairy Business Association
(920) 209-3990 | [email protected]

Nutrient trading system would foster farm conservation practices

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Dairy Business Association said today it supports a new legislative initiative that would improve water quality through the promotion of a streamlined process for nutrient trading.

State Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Allouez, today began circulating a bill for co-sponsorship that would create a third-party clearinghouse to allow for the buying and selling of water quality credits. While state law already allows for this type of trading, a centralized system for the sale of such credits would make this an easier process and, thus, more popular.


“This type of trading system is something that dairy farmers have been interested in for some time,” said John Holevoet, DBA’s director of government affairs. “The current system for doing trades of this kind is well intentioned, but trades are cumbersome to set up and get approved. The clearinghouse would make this a much more appealing option for those looking to buy and sell these new water quality credits.”

The clearinghouse approach for water quality credits would function something like existing markets for carbon credits. Various entities, including local water treatment facilities, cheese plants and other factories are required to meet limits for what pollutants or nutrients they can discharge to the environment. Phosphorus is one of the most commonly regulated nutrients. It can be very expensive for a facility to filter its discharge sufficiently to reach its assigned phosphorus target.

At the same time, there are environmental and farming organizations that can implement innovative farming techniques or land use changes that would reduce the amount of phosphorus in a watershed. Now, organizations doing that kind of work could sell credits from the phosphorus reductions they achieve, and other entities could buy them to offset the amount of phosphorus they need to remove from their waste streams.

“This new credit system would be a great way to encourage farmers to implement new conservation practices,” Holevoet said.

“We’re hopeful this new bill will garner broad support. Clean water is something we all want. This new clearinghouse is exciting because it would allow for partnerships between rural and urban stakeholders to improve water quality for everyone.”

Holevoet said innovative companies play an important role in these sorts of solutions. He noted Newtrient, which works to improve sustainability by advancing technologies that transform manure into products like soil conditioners, fertilizer and energy, and by connecting stakeholders in this new and growing business arena.

“Companies like Newtrient have rolled up their sleeves and are working with dairy farmers and the state to find financially sustainable ways to improve water quality,” he said.

Click here for a high-resolution photo of John Holevoet

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Dairy group @DairyForward supports @SenRobCowles proposal for streamlined #water quality credits

Click here for more about the benefits of market-based nutrient trading in Wisconsin 

About DBA:

The Dairy Business Association is a nonprofit organization comprised of Wisconsin dairy farmers, milk processors, vendors and business partners who work to ensure that Wisconsin dairy farmers of all sizes have the support they need to thrive in the state’s economy, communities and food supply chain. The integrated approach is a unique model that fosters collaboration and innovation for the collective good. The association’s core work is advocating for sensible state laws and regulations that affect the dairy community. For more information, visit

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