Dairy industry commits to environment
By Marg Land
July 4, 2008, Rosemont, IL – U.S.
dairy leaders recently announced an industry-wide commitment and action
plan to reduce fluid milk’s carbon footprint while increasing business
value, from farm to consumer.
July 4, 2008, Rosemont, IL – U.S. dairy leaders recently announced an industry-wide commitment and action plan to reduce fluid milk’s carbon footprint while increasing business value, from farm to consumer.
The action plan is an outcome of the industry’s first Sustainability Summit for U.S. Dairy, an unprecedented gathering of 250 leaders representing producers, processors, non-governmental organizations, university researchers and government agencies held in Rogers, Ark. The plan focuses on operational efficiencies and innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring financial viability and industry growth.
“Sustainability is a challenge that requires industry-wide solutions, and our efforts establish a new standard for industry collaboration,” said Thomas Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the nonprofit organization that manages the national dairy checkoff program on behalf of America’s dairy producers. “Decision makers from across the dairy value chain are working together to commit to concrete, innovative solutions. This will ensure an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable industry.”
Summit attendees recommended a number of actions, including to:
- Reduce energy use in the milk supply chain by developing technologies for next generation milk processing on the farm and in the plant.
- Establish a mechanism to optimize returns to the dairy industry from a carbon credit trading system that encourages the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency for dairy farmers and processors through financially viable best management practices and tools that calculate individual farm energy and alternative energy opportunities.
- Supply green power to communities by expanding the use of methane digesters.
- Stimulate development of low-cost, low-carbon, consumer-acceptable packaging.
- Reduce cooling costs and emissions associated with refrigeration by expanding economically feasible, environmentally responsible and consumer-accepted dairy products.
“Dairy’s leadership in sustainability builds on our traditions of environmental stewardship and providing products that contribute to a healthy lifestyle,” said Gallagher. “By working together, we can improve our industry’s contributions to humanity – now and for future generations.”
The Sustainability Summit, held in conjunction with the University of Arkansas’ Applied Sustainability Center, was the first major step in a comprehensive dairy industry-wide initiative bringing together producers, processors, and others to identify and address sustainability opportunities.
“Sustainability practices have long been part of common practices on dairy farms, from recycling water and manure to crop technologies that improve soil and prevent erosion,” said Jerry Kozak, NMPF’s chief executive officer. “In an era of record high energy prices and a changing global climate, we must do more. It makes economic sense to find ways to conserve energy and reduce production costs, while recognizing that a growing number of consumers care deeply about the health and environmental impact of the products they buy.”