Erin Fitzgerald Sexson of the farmer-founded Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® has been recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture.
Sexson, who serves as senior vice president of global sustainability, was honored at a White House ceremony as one of 12 leaders “who are taking action to make our agricultural supply chain more sustainable,” according to a White House news release.
Sexson led the Innovation Center’s U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment for seven years. That formal commitment builds on the legacy of stewardship by America’s dairy farm families and businesses. Experts from academic, government and nongovernment organizations join farmers and dairy industry professionals from across the supply chain to measure, improve and communicate dairy’s role in a sustainable food system.
“I am humbled to be recognized, but the true champions are the U.S. dairy farmers and importers I am privileged to work for every day,” Sexson said. “Our farmers taught me that sustainability is more than just economic, environmental and social considerations. It should include stewardship and the importance of passing their land on to the next generation in better shape than they found it. For farmers, that is more than a commitment, it’s a value.”
In remarks during the ceremony, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack thanked farmers for their efforts to improve the resilience of American agriculture, saying “Your success has created incredible freedom for the 99 percent of Americans who do not work in agriculture, and we need to tell your stories.”
The dairy industry’s voluntary and proactive leadership in sustainability is increasingly recognized as a model for other sectors, and Sexson’s role has expanded to collaborate with health professionals and other experts in the U.S. and globally, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Paul Rovey, Arizona dairy farmer and chairman of Dairy Management Inc. which manages the national dairy checkoff, said Sexson’s leadership and the work of the Innovation Center is making a difference for farmers.
“These efforts are critical to farmers and are very much appreciated,” Rovey said. “Sustainability is on the minds of people who consume our products and this work helps assure the public they can have trust and confidence in dairy foods and beverages.”
Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® is a forum for the dairy industry to work together pre-competitively to address barriers and foster innovation. The Innovation Center aligns the collective resources of the industry to offer consumers nutritious dairy products and ingredients, and promote the health of people, communities, and the planet. The Board of Directors for the Innovation Center includes 32 leaders representing key U.S. farmer organizations, dairy cooperatives, processors, and brands. Visit www.usdairy.com for more information.