The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®, established under the leadership of dairy producers, is now accepting nominations for the third year of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards. These awards recognize outstanding dairy farms, businesses and collaborative partnerships for management practices that are good for the community, good for the planet, and good for business.
To help kick off the new call for nominations, the Innovation Center is proud to present Dairy’s Sustainability Journey, a new video documentary series produced in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund® . WWF and the Innovation Center are working together with the nation’s dairy producers to develop, adopt and share new, science-based practices leading to a more sustainable dairy industry.
The short videos feature the 2013 winners of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards on their respective farm or operation, sharing their stewardship stories and sustainability practices in action.
“Sustainability is a journey that the dairy industry has been on for generations so that we can continue to contribute to a safe, affordable and nutritious food supply,” said Barbara O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “Every operation is different, and we encourage dairy farms and businesses to think about the steps they have taken that add up to better use of natural resources, increased profitability and positive community contributions. Nominate yourself, your business partners, or your neighbors so that these stories can be shared, recognized and replicated.”
Nominations are open through Nov. 15, 2013, to all segments of the U.S. dairy value chain — from farm to table — for the following categories:
- Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability
- Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability
- Outstanding Achievement in Renewable Energy
- Outstanding Achievement in Energy Efficiency
This year’s gold-level sponsors include: the Center for Advanced Energy Studies; DeLaval; DVO Anaerobic Digesters; Elanco Animal Health; HDR; InSinkErator; Tetra Pak Inc.; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; World Wildlife Fund and Zoetis. Silver-level sponsors include Organic Solution Management; Skip Shapiro Enterprises, LLC; and Syngenta.
An independent panel of judges will evaluate all nominations based on results of the project or initiative as measured by triple-bottom-line success — economic, environmental and social. Judges also will assess: the potential for other dairy farms and businesses to adopt the practices; demonstrated learning, innovation and improvement; and scalability.
Success stories help connect consumers to agriculture
Consumers increasingly want to know that the products they buy are produced responsibly. This is especially true for those who drink a lot of milk, according to research conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute. However, consumers are more disconnected than ever from agriculture and know little about the sustainable practices employed on farms and in dairy businesses.
“Caring for the land, animals, air and water is essential to producing wholesome, nutritious milk,” said Paul Rovey “Through the dairy farms and businesses can share with consumers how their sustainability practices demonstrate their commitment and care for our environment.”
Research shows that today 9.2 million dairy cows produce more milk than the 25.6 million dairy cows the country relied on in 1944. Through improvements in cow health, nutrition and housing, among other factors, dairy farms today use 90 percent less cropland and 65 percent less water, and produce 76 percent less manure and 63 percent less carbon emissions. The industry is responsible for approximately 2 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is committed to reduce this further through a voluntary goal to reduce GHG emissions by 25 percent by 2020.
Past award winners use various management practices that are good for the environment, the community and their farm businesses. On Petersen Dairy Farm in Appleton Wis., for example, Mark Petersen and his family purchase newspaper from local nonprofit schools and churches to use as bedding for their cows, and then recycle it with cow manure into compost for their neighbors. Learn more about past winners – their stories, successes and lessons to share — in the Awards Winner Brochure available online.
The awards are part of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment, an industrywide effort to understand and communicate about dairy sustainability, demonstrate progress, create long-term economic growth and build consumer trust.
An important part of the Innovation Center’s work is the development of the Stewardship and Sustainability Guide for U.S. Dairy. In its first phase, the science-based guide provides common metrics for all segments of the dairy supply chain to employ when tracking and communicating about social, economic and environmental impact.
Winners of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards will be announced in Washington D.C. in April 2014. In addition, their stories and passion for sustainability will be shared on a national scale in forums and venues, and will be featured on USDairy.com/Sustainability.