The U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog: Market Analysis, Research & News
  • For U.S. dairy farmers, every day is Earth Day

    By USDEC Staff April 19, 2023

    USDEC is proud to share what U.S. dairy farmers are doing to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality, optimize water usage and improve water quality. 

    Whether investing in methane digesters, planting cover crops, making wise use of energy and water resources, or feeding additives to lower methane emissions from their cows, U.S. dairy farmers are stepping up their game when it comes to environmental stewardship and sustainability.

    “So many different things are happening farm to farm,” says USDEC President and CEO Krysta Harden, as farmers take advantage of technology, innovation and research to become even more sustainable. 

    "Already, we are on the way to becoming greenhouse gas neutral," Harden says. 

    Harden takes every chance she can get to emphasize U.S. dairy's commitment to sustainability and the goals set out in the U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative.

    The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, founded by America’s dairy farmers, has set aggressive environmental sustainability goals to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality, optimize water usage and improve water quality by 2050. 

    The following video gives a quick overview of what U.S. dairy farmers are doing to achieve this.   

    Their achievements haven’t gone unnoticed by the news media and business press.  

    Earlier this year, Forbes described the success Reinford Farms in Pennsylvania has had with its anaerobic digesters, converting cow manure and food waste into methane gas used to generate electricity for hundreds of homes. 

    The manure comes from the farm, obviously, but the food waste comes from grocery stores, warehouses and food manufacturing clients. It not only keeps the food waste from going into landfills but avoids the methane emissions that would be generated in the landfills, and instead converts emissions into electricity for homes.    

    It shows that a dairy farm can be an environmental solution.

    Sustainability pic1

     Brett Reinford at his farm in central Pennsylvania.

    Click here to listen to a three-and-a-half minute narration of the Forbes article. 

    In December, the Washington Post, ran an article entitled, “Midwest farms are using more cover crops. Why that’s good news.” 

    The article cites a study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters which found that the use of cover crops in the Midwest increased from just 1.8 percent in 2011 to 7.2 percent in 2021. While not as high a percentage as some would like, it does show significant progress. 

    Cover crops planted on fallow fields are a way to repair soil and slow erosion.

    Soil health is certainly a focus at Royal Dairy in Washington State. 

    The farm uses earthworms – eight acres worth of them – to filter the water from cow waste, thus capturing valuable carbon in the soil rather than allowing it to be released into the air. 

    "To be exact, it's cut our carbon footprint by 42,000 CO2 ton equivalents. These worms are going to eliminate the formation of 42,000 tons of methane from going into the air," Royal Dairy’s Austin Allred told in this article. 

    Royal Dairy’s commitment to sustainable and regenerative agriculture is also  captured in the following video.

    Dairy farmers take seriously their job as stewards of natural resources – not only does it make good business sense, but it's also the right thing to do. 

    In the video below, Rosalio Brambila of Sunnyside Dairy in Washington State explains how the farm recycles water and also removes nitrogen from the water through a denitrification system.  

    California dairy farmer Melvin Medeiros sums it up well: Dairy can be part of the solution in feeding the world while also being sustainable.  

    "As a dairy farmer whose family business has been milking cows for 53 years, here's what I think: The dairy cow is the most efficient animal on Earth today. It can be a central source of energy for the human body, and it could be a net exporter of energy for society," Medeiros says in an article published last June by the Fresno Bee.  

    Although there is more work to be done, the U.S. dairy industry is proud of what it has achieved so far in terms of sustainability and becoming an environmental solution. 

    It's a great message to convey during Earth Week!

    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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