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  • 5 facts about U.S. Dairy's commitment to sustainability this World Milk Day

    By Mark O'Keefe May 31, 2021

    The theme for World Milk Day (June 1) is sustainability. U.S. dairy has a lot to be proud of and much work ahead to meet its net-zero by 2050 goal.

    World Milk Day1-1-1

    As we celebrate World Milk Day, U.S. Dairy continues to work ambitiously to be a sustainable solution for the planet and its people.


    The following five facts back up that claim using data, charts, videos and more: 

    1. Dairy farmers are the original environmentalists.

    For centuries, dairy farmers have taken good care of the land because the land is a source of nutrition for their cows. They use water responsibly and often recycle it to use on their crops or to clean their barns. 

    With advances in technology, dairy farmers have become adept at turning cow's manure into fertilizer for crops, converting methane into power for their farms and communities and recycling water for crop irrigation. 

    The following video goes into more detail on how dairy farmers are using "cow power" in a way that will help them achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050.  

    2. The U.S. dairy industry has made tremendous progress in recent years cutting its “environmental footprint.”

    Due to innovative practices in cow health, improved feed and genetic and modern management practices, the environmental impact of producing a gallon of milk in the United States shrunk significantly from 2007 to 2017, requiring 30% less water, 21 less land and a 19% smaller carbon footprint, according to a study published last year in the Journal of Animal Science.


    An earlier study in the Journal of Animal Science found that the carbon footprint per unit of milk produced in the United States in 2007 was 63% less than it was in 1944.

    Modern farming methods have made a big difference!

    3. The U.S. dairy industry has set ambitious goals to become even more environmentally friendly. 

    In the United States, dairy’s greenhouse gas footprint is less than 2% of the nation’s total.


    The industry wants to do better. That’s why it created The Net Zero Initiative to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

    NZI is an industry-wide effort to accelerate voluntary action on farm to reduce environmental impacts by making sustainable practices and technologies more accessible and affordable to U.S. dairy farms of all sizes and geographies.

    Many of the practices and technologies needed to reach the industry’s goals largely exist but require further research and development and overall greater accessibility across farms of all sizes and geographies.


    The U.S. dairy industry is creating partnerships to help it get where it wants to go.

    In March, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, Syngenta and The Nature Conservancy announced the creation of a new partnership that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving the production and efficiency of dairy cow feed.  

    Last October, Nestlé committed up to $10 million in a multi-year partnership to support the Net Zero Initiative. The resources will help scale access to environmental practices and resources on farms across the country. 

    Are these initiatives enough to move the needle on climate change? Yes. 

    A 2021 World Wildlife Fund analysis found that U.S. dairy farms could achieve net-zero emissions in as few as five years -- if the right incentives and supportive policies are put in place. The investment would mean a return of $1.9 million or more per farm. 

    If even 10% of dairy production in the U.S. were to achieve net-zero, GHG emissions could be reduced by more than 100 million tons. 

    Over time, continued commitment will positively affect climate change. 

    4. Dairy creates jobs and economic sustainability.

    The International Dairy Foods Association’s Dairy Delivers℠ economic impact tool shows U.S. dairy is a coast-to-coast jobs machine. Dairy in this country supports more than 3 million jobs, generates $64 billion in tax revenue and contributes 3% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), according to the IDFA study.

    When a dairy farm spends money locally, it creates a multiplier effect. According to the Center for Dairy Excellence in Pennsylvania, for every $1 a dairy farm spends, roughly $2.50 in wages and related business transactions is contributed to the local economy.  


    Globally, extensive research by the United Nations has determined that dairy farming reduces poverty.

    Among the more than 900 million making less than $1 per day, most live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and livestock.

    The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, working with the Global Dairy Platform, researched the difference dairy farming makes in the lives of the world’s poorest people.

    Their report, “Dairy Development’s Impact on Poverty Reduction,” concluded that: “Dairying not only contributes a regular source of food and income, but it puts farmers in a better position to feed their families, send their children to school, provide for their family’s health, and invest in their future.”

    The report said, "Dairy has the power to provide a major pathway out of poverty for individuals, families, and communities by making the necessities of life— food, water, shelter and clothing – accessible and affordable."

    Dairy farming gives hundreds of millions of people economic opportunities.

    5. U.S. dairy farmers produce affordable, nutritious food in ways that are good for people and the planet.

    Nutrient-rich dairy foods and beverages promote health and wellness across the globe. 

    The following video shows how the U.S. dairy industry is committed to producing those foods in a sustainable way -- on World Milk Day and all the days to come.

    The world needs the sustainable nutrition that U.S. Dairy provides!


    Learn more:


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    The U.S. Dairy Export Council fosters collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to enhance global demand for U.S. dairy products and ingredients. USDEC is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff. How to republish this post.  

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