An industry-wide commitment and action plan to reduce fluid milk's carbon footprint while increasing farm-to-consumer business value was announced by national dairy leaders today.
The action plan stems from the industry's first Sustainability Summit for U.S. Dairy, held June 16-19 in Rogers, Ark. The event drew 250 leaders representing producers, processors, non-governmental organizations, university researchers and government agencies
The plan focuses on operational efficiencies and innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring financial viability and industry growth. Solutions being explored include reductions in energy use and carbon emissions at dairies and processing plants, truck and route efficiency, shelf-stable products and low-carbon packaging.
"Sustainability is a challenge that requires industry-wide solutions, and our efforts establish a new standard for industry collaboration,” said Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc., the nonprofit organization that manages the national dairy checkoff program. "Decision makers from across the dairy value chain are working together to commit to concrete, innovative solutions. This will ensure an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable industry.”
The Sustainability Summit, held in conjunction with the University of Arkansas' Applied Sustainability Center, marked the first major step in a comprehensive dairy industry-wide initiative that brings together producers, processors and others to identify and address sustainability opportunities. Leading the initiative along with DMI are the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), representing processors and manufacturers, and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) representing dairy cooperatives.
Ideas and initiatives advanced by Summit participants will be further refined for possible testing and evaluation. The goal, according to Gallagher, will be to field-test several prototype projects to determine their real-world viability as ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Catherine Merlo is Western editor for Dairy Today. You can reach her at email@example.com.