In 1999, New York introduced its concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) permit followed, in 2001, by release of the New York phosphorus index (NY-PI) and establishment of a statewide on-farm research partnership. State policy requires that the Natural Resources Conservation Service's 590 nutrient management standard, and therefore the NY-PI, be implemented on all CAFO farms as well as animal feeding operations (AFOs) receiving state or federal cost share funds for manure storage and other related practices. Since the introduction of the NY-PI, P fertilizer sales (farm use) declined from 14,470 Mg in 2001 (8.6 kg P ha) to 7,376 Mg in 2009 (5.0 kg P ha). Cost of fertilizer was not a significant covariate for the reduction in P use over time. Certified nutrient management planners were surveyed in 2011 to evaluate their perceptions of drivers for changes in P use. In addition, whole farm P balances were recorded for 54 New York dairy farms. The survey data illustrate key ingredients for success: (i) statewide awareness of environmental challenges through both regulations and extension programming; (ii) science-based, user-friendly tools that allow for farm-specific responses to the challenges; (iii) risk assessment of management alternatives through on-farm research; (iv) enforcement of regulations; and (v) existence of economically feasible alternatives. Whole farm balances showed a reduction in P surplus of 44%, averaged across farms, whereas milk production increased, further illustrating the willingness and economic potential to make changes that improve production efficiency and reduce risk of nutrient loss to the environment.