Dairy’s sustainability story from recycling water to fueling cars

But for more than a decade, the US dairy industry has been working aggressively to reduce cows’ carbon hoofprint and meet ambitious goals to become greenhouse gas neutral, optimize their water use and improve water quality by 2050.

In this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Soup-To-Nuts podcast​, Karen Scanlon, executive vice president, environmental stewardship for Dairy Management Inc. and the Innovation Center for US Dairy, shares details about these goals and the progress industry is making to achieve them.

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‘The Innovation Center was set on a path to demonstrate the transformative good that … dairy does’

Like most intentional sustainability initiatives, the US dairy industry, under the guidance of the Dairy Checkoff and Innovation Center for US Dairy, began its journey to improve its environmental impact with a lifecycle analysis in 2008 – the first of its kind in the US food agriculture sector. As Scanlon explains, its findings weren’t as bad as many thought, but there was room for significant improvement.

The LCA focused on fluid milk and found that US dairy accounts for 2% total greenhouse gas emissions in the US, 5.1% of US water use and 3.7% of US farmland.

“Knowing the commitment that farmers and dairy companies have to continuous improvement, the Innovation Center was set on a path to demonstrate that transformative good that we believe dairy does for people, for communities and for the planet,”​ Scanlon said.

And it is already making progress since the assessment was conducted, and while there is more to do, she said the progress demonstrates US dairy farmers’ commitment to caring for the earth and responding to consumer concerns about how their food is made.

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