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.