“Significant resources” will be committed to helping dairy producers become more environmentally sustainable over the next several years, now that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has renewed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the dairy industry.

Since signing the first MOU in December 2009, nearly 180 awards have been made to help finance anaerobic digesters. Additionally, during this period, USDA awarded approximately 140 REAP loans and grants to help dairy farmers develop other types of renewable energy and energy-efficiency systems. Also, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has provided $257 million in funding since 2009 that has helped more than 6,000 dairy farmers plan and implement conservation practices.

Those types of efforts will continue.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was reluctant to put an exact dollar figure on it.

“We are willing to commit significant resources,” he said.

Read more.

"No producers have been more out-front on these issues than the dairy producers," Vilsack said. 

"The dairy industry has always been proud of being the original environmentalists," said Dairy Management Inc. CEO Tom Gallagher, who appeared with Vilsack at a signing ceremony at the White House. (Dairy Management Inc. manages the national dairy checkoff program.) 

The MOU supports the dairy industry’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by the year 2020.

Dairy industry officials will use a University of Arkansas study as the scientific baseline for measuring progress against that goal. For more on that study, click here and here