Discovery Farms develops on-farm and related research to determine the economic and environmental effects of agricultural practices on a diverse group of Wisconsin farms; and educates and improves communications among the agricultural community, consumers, researchers and policymakers to better identify and implement effective environmental management practices that are compatible with profitable agriculture.

To achieve its mission, Discovery Farms

  • Works with a wide range of agricultural enterprises to determine the environmental impacts of production agriculture and creates a reliable database of what different farms contribute in terms of environmental enhancement or degradation. 

  • Gathers baseline information that includes not only environmental information, but also management practices and financial conditions that allow for the calculation of the cost of implementing environmentally sound practices.

  • Determines the effects of environmental rules and regulations on the environment, farm profitability and farm management; and provides accurate information to producers, consumers, policy makers and agency personnel so positive steps can be made to protect both the environment and production agriculture.

  • Connects with agricultural producer groups; environmental groups; consumers, the University of Wisconsin; Division of Extension; the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection; the Department of Natural Resources; the Natural Resources Conservation Service; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; County Land Conservation Departments; and agricultural businesses and cooperatives.

Farmer Leadership
Discovery Farms is governed by a farmer-led Steering Committee. This farmer-led group identifies program priorities and participates in the selection of research locations. Duties of the Steering Committee do not stop at the board meeting door. Farmer leadership is a crucial component of Discovery Farms and the Steering Committee, as well as farmer cooperators, are encouraged to stay involved year-round.