ROSEMONT, Ill. — The dairy industry unveiled a major initiative to help reduce on-farm expenses while meeting a growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products.
The industry-wide effort focuses on the fluid milk value chain — from farm to table. It includes a series of projects that will reduce energy, increase efficiency and help dairy producers tap into new sources of income.
The announcement was made by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, an organization bringing together leaders from across the dairy value chain.
The group includes producer organizations, dairy cooperatives, processors and manufacturers such as Hilmar Cheese Company, Leprino Foods, Dairylea Cooperative Inc., Anderson Erickson Dairy, Land O’Lakes and Dairy Farmers of America.
As part of the initiative, 12 project plans were unveiled that offer a range of solutions for operations large and small across all industry segments.
Some of these projects take advantage of existing practices, while others are technological innovations that require longer time frames and financial commitments for research and development.
The project plans have the potential to create a conservatively estimated $238 million in business value and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.2 million metric tons equivalent to taking more than half a million cars off the road every year.
Solutions include identifying and implementing energy-saving best practices across all value chain segments, removing barriers to the adoption of methane digesters and implementing pilot programs to test alternatives to thermal pasteurization for raw milk and reduced-temperature clean-in-place technologies.
Many modern dairy practices, including on-farm technological advances, have already dramatically reduced dairy’s carbon footprint by lowering energy and water use, increasing milk production and developing more efficient nutrient management programs.
The Innovation Center engaged the University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center to conduct the first-ever comprehensive survey to accurately measure its current carbon footprint.
The science-based life cycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions across the U.S. fluid milk value chain will be submitted for publication later this year.
The commitment to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions was first announced in the summer of 2008, when more than 250 stakeholders gathered at the first Sustainability Summit to develop a reduction roadmap.
Now, more than 500 stakeholders, including producers, processors, manufacturers and retailers, as well as other dairy industry experts, are helping the industry and Innovation Center achieve this sustainability vision.
Overall, the industry goal is to reduce fluid milk’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.