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Second Annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards Announced

April 23, 2013
 
 

Source: Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® is announcing the winners of the second annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awardsat a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. The program recognizes dairy farms and businesses of all sizes for practices that advance the industry’s commitment to healthy products, healthy communities and a healthy planet.

"The strength of the award winners’ stories illustrates why consumers can be confident about choosing their favorite dairy foods and beverages," said Barbara O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, which was founded by dairy producers. "These and thousands of other actions being taken every day — both large and small — contribute to the industry’s overall commitment to a healthy future for the next generation."

The winners were selected based on results that delivered triple-bottom-line results to advance economic, environmental and social sustainability. An independent panel of judges — which included experts from academic institutions, government, dairy science organizations, nongovernmental organizations and media as well as environmental and dairy industry leaders — also assessed the potential for adoption by others as well as demonstrated learning, innovation and improvement.

"This year’s winners include dairy farms and businesses from across the country who took steps to reduce their environmental impact, improve their profitability and increase their contribution to a sustainable 21st century food system," said Molly Jahn, professor of genetics and agronomy at University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of the awards’ judges panel.

The 2013 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards Winners include:

Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability

Petersen Dairy Farm, Appleton, Wis.: When the city of Appleton, Wis., decided to build a high school less than half of a mile from Petersen Dairy Farm, the Petersen family began exploring composting as a way to manage the dairy’s manure and associated odors. Now compost is sold at the dairy by the 5-gallon pail or truckload, primarily to home gardeners. Visitors witness firsthand how their old newspapers are recycled as bedding for the cows, or mixed with manure, composted and ultimately returned to their gardens for use as mulch and to their yards for plant food. By turning their urban location into an asset, the Petersens prove that cows can be good neighbors.

Prairieland Dairy, Firth, Neb.: A creative partnership among four families put this dairy on the path to long-term prosperity and allows employees at Firth, Neb.-based Prairieland Dairy to focus on their specific talents. Sustainable design is reflected in every aspect of the facilities, which were built to be efficient and low-impact while maximizing cow comfort. Automatic cooling, waste management and pest control systems are just part of the solution. Prairieland Dairy also taps into the natural power of wind, gravity, and the geothermal properties of well water to reduce the use of energy, water and equipment, for savings estimated at more than $200,000.

Skyridge Farms, Sunnyside, Wash.: Dan DeGroot, owner of Skyridge Farms, a dairy in Sunnyside, Wash., cultivated an organization that optimizes performance and preserves the environment. Since 2003, DeGroot has improved lighting, added occupancy sensors and installed a programmable logic control system. The management team can automatically control lighting, fans, and soaker and flush systems. By doing so, they maintain optimum performance, reduce costs and keep the herd comfortable. This upgrade alone yields a 20 percent energy savings annually across the five freestall barns. With composting, Skyridge Farms harvests manure nutrients, provides quality bedding for the herd and eliminates 600 truckloads annually previously used to transport manure.

Honorable mention McCarty Family Farms, Rexford, Kan.: The McCarty Family, owners of McCarty Family Farms, have revitalized their rural northwestern Kansas community by providing more than 100 direct jobs, creating a need for additional housing and in turn increasing school enrollment. McCarty Family Farms’ unique "cow to cup" partnership with Dannon and the addition of an on-site processing plant has improved economic stability while aggressively reducing their environmental impact. The plant has yielded significant progress toward the dairy’s water reduction goal. Approximately 59,400 gallons of raw milk from the three dairies is processed through an evaporator every day to remove excess water before being separated into cream and skim milk. Every drop of the water removed during the evaporation process — 39,000 gallons per day — is reused throughout the dairies.

Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability

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