The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy (IC) is a precompetitive forum initiated by dairy farmers in 2008 to drive alignment and action across the U.S. dairy community on category-wide issues and opportunities. The IC brings together leaders and experts from agriculture, co-operatives, processors, retailers, civil society, academia and more to advance a shared dairy social responsibility platform and communicate U.S. dairy’s positive impact. This work is reflected in the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment, dairy’s pledge to demonstrate and report progress against an economically viable and socially responsible U.S. dairy community from farm to table. We welcome the involvement of all those along the dairy chain who share our commitment of a socially responsible and ever-improving dairy community.
The U.S. dairy industry has a long legacy of responsible stewardship and is a crucial environmental solution with a vital role to play in the collective global effort to sustainably feed and nourish the world’s growing population.
Dairy farmers are connected to their land, animals and communities in ways that make caring for natural resources central to everything they do. They know that for future generations to thrive, they must continuously find ways to give more than they use. Because of their continuous efforts to seek out and adopt progressive sustainable farming practices, the carbon footprint of producing a gallon of milk shrunk by 19% between 2007 and 2017, requiring 30% less water and 21% less land — and the U.S. dairy industry’s greenhouse gas footprint is just 2% of the nation’s total.
The Path Forward
We have made great progress but recognize that there is much more to be done. That’s why in 2020, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy announced collective industry Environmental Stewardship Goals, pledging to achieve carbon neutrality or better, optimize water usage through recycling, and significantly improve water quality via management of manure and nutrients by 2050.
One way we are accelerating U.S. dairy’s efforts to reach these ambitious targets is through the Net Zero Initiative, which uses foundational research, on-farm pilots and the development of new product and ecosystem market opportunities to break down barriers and make cutting-edge feed production, cow care, energy efficiency and manure management practices accessible and economically viable for farms of all sizes, in all geographies.
The U.S. dairy industry is committed to nourishing people, communities and the planet to foster a more sustainable future for generations to come. But the path to progress won’t be easy and it cannot be traversed alone. That’s why we are collaborating with partners across our industry to advance inclusive solutions that will make a meaningful impact — because together, we will be a catalyst for positive change.
Krysta Harden is the President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
The 2050 environmental stewardship goals build on a decades-long commitment to producing nutritious dairy foods that can sustainably feed a growing global population.
Nestlé is the first of what the U.S. dairy community hopes will be many partners joining the Net Zero Initiative, contributing funding and expertise to help propel the entire industry’s progress toward a more sustainable future.
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy announced Starbucks’ intent to support the Net Zero Initiative (NZI), a partnership of the U.S. dairy community seeking to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, optimize water usage and improve water quality on farms.
The Sustainability Awards program recognizes dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals and the planet.
New analysis from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) finds that larger US dairy farms could reduce their net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to zero within the next five years.
There’s a hypothesis that may sound logical to some: Eliminate U.S. dairy cows and you’ll lessen climate issues. But does that hypothesis stand up to sound science?
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“As part of a 5th-generation dairy farming family, we pride ourselves on sustaining our land, caring for our animals and preserving our business for the next generation. We want to be at the table, testing new practices and accessing innovative technology to go further, faster. Because in the end, we all want the same thing – a healthy planet for our families and our children.”
Tara Vander Dussen, 5th generation New Mexico dairy farmer and environmental scientist
“The U.S. dairy community has been working together to provide the world with responsibly-produced, nutritious dairy foods. With the entire dairy community at the table – from farmers and cooperatives to processors, household brands and retailers – we’re leveraging U.S. dairy’s innovation, diversity and scale to drive continued environmental progress and create a more sustainable planet for future generations.”
Mike Haddad, Chairman, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy
“Supporting and enabling farmers through the Net Zero Initiative has the potential to transform the dairy industry. Scaling up climate-smart agricultural initiatives is key to Nestlé’s ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and will help reduce the carbon footprint of many of our brands. We are excited to collaborate with U.S. dairy and our suppliers to contribute to an even more sustainable dairy supply chain.”
Jim Wells, Chief Supply Chain Officer for Nestlé USA
“Dairy is a vital and resilient ecosystem that encompasses many facets, entities and perspectives, all of which matter and must be considered. Some dairy cows may be black and white, but the dairy industry isn’t. Dairy’s impact is vast and deep. It nourishes people, supports vibrant communities and is good for the planet.”
Jay Waldvogel, Senior Vice President Strategy and International Development, Dairy Farmers of America
“The U.S. dairy community and farmers set new goals to achieve neutral or better carbon emissions, optimize water usage and improve water quality by 2050. While U.S. dairy contributes less than 2 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, we’re holding ourselves accountable to scale the positive impact we can make and are committed to being an environment solution.”
Barbara O’Brien, President Dairy Management Inc. President & Chief Executive Officer Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy
“Our goal as an essential business that delivers wholesome, healthy nutrition to millions is to thrive alongside the communities in which we work, live and play for at least another 100 years. Our ability to do that amid an unpredictable and volatile market will depend in large measure on collaborations with our public, private and industry partners. Together we are stronger and smarter.”
Stan Ryan, CEO of Darigold
“U.S. dairy already has a great story and commitment to the environment. We’ve made significant improvements to produce food more efficiently, conserve resources and reduce waste. As a result, dairy accounts for just 2% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).”
Dr. Jim Wallace, Senior Vice President, Environmental Research at Dairy Management Inc.
“Dairy cows only contribute a proportion of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and agricultural greenhouse gas emissions are only about 9% of total emissions in the U.S. Moreover, if we were to eliminate dairy cows from the U.S. food production system and replace them with other agricultural processes, we estimate the equivalent reduction in total US greenhouse gas emissions to be less than 1%.”
Dr. Robin White, Associate Professor, Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences at Virginia Tech