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Dairy industry completes milk carbon study


September 27, 2010
By Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

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September 22, 2010,
Rosemont, IL — The U.S. dairy industry recently announced that it has completed
a carbon footprint study that measured the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
associated with a gallon of milk in the United States.
September 22, 2010,
Rosemont, IL — The U.S. dairy industry recently announced that it has completed
a carbon footprint study that measured the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
associated with a gallon of milk in the United States.

Researchers followed the
journey of a gallon of milk from the beginning of the life cycle when crops are
grown to feed cows; milk is produced and delivered to processors; through
processing, packaging and distribution; all the way to the purchase and
disposal of the gallon of milk by the consumer. The completion of the study is
a significant first step for the dairy industry in a comprehensive,
science-based approach to measure and improve its environmental footprint.

The Innovation Center for
U.S. Dairy
commissioned the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of
Arkansas
to conduct the GHG LCA of fluid milk, also called the carbon footprint
study. Dr. Greg Thoma, professor of chemical engineering at the University of
Arkansas
and lead investigator of the study, will present the findings at the International Food LCA Conference. The carbon footprint study, together
with data from additional studies measuring GHG emissions, helps validate that
total U.S. dairy GHG emissions are approximately two percent of total U.S.
emissions. This is far less than earlier figures reported about the global
livestock industry that were incorrectly attributed to U.S. dairy.

“The entire dairy industry
– dairy producers, processors, manufacturers and brands – is working together
to build on its long history of sustainability,” said Thomas P. Gallagher, CEO
of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management Inc. “We are
committed to providing the nutritious dairy products consumers want in a way
that makes the industry, people and the earth economically, environmentally,
and socially better – now and for future generations.”

The carbon footprint study
identifies opportunities for efficiency and innovation across the fluid milk
supply chain, including feed efficiency, manure management, energy management
and fuel efficiency. A key finding indicates that management practices are an
important driver of the carbon footprint for farms, plants and transportation
fleets, rather than the geographic region, business model, or size of the farm
or organization.

Dairy businesses across
the country are already making changes that are environmentally and
economically beneficial. The Innovation Center has collected a variety of
success stories, case studies and best practices, providing a platform for
industry partners to learn from one another and make informed decisions that
suit their unique needs.

In 2008, the Innovation
Center
worked with industry stakeholders to develop a roadmap of opportunities
to reduce GHG emissions and build business value across the entire value chain.
Ten projects, all of which align with the opportunities for improvement
identified by the carbon footprint study, are currently under way. These
projects explore best and next practices for feed efficiency, manure
management, energy management, improved packaging formats, processing
technologies and fuel efficiency.

More than 500 active
volunteers from more than 300 organizations are committing time, knowledge and
resources to the projects. Volunteers include representatives from the dairy
industry, as well as experts from academic, government and nongovernmental
organizations such as University of Michigan, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture
, and World Wildlife Fund.

The carbon footprint study
will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 2011. In addition,
studies on nutritional value, economic impact and other environmental measures
such as water quality and conservation are under way as the industry seeks more
ways to work together for a healthy planet.


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