Dairy Industry to Cut Milk-related Emissions 25% by 2020

by | Apr 14, 2009

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dairy-cow2By 2020, the U.S. dairy industry hopes to cut by 25 percent annual greenhouse gas emissions related to the production of fluid milk, according to the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, which represents nearly 70 percent of the dairy supply chain. The center says such a reduction is equivalent to removing 1.25 million cars from the road.

The center’s board has representatives from 30 companies, including Dean Foods, HP Hood LLC, Kraft Foods Inc., Land O’Lakes, Hilmar Cheese Co., Leprino Foods, Shamrock Farms, Dairylea Cooperative Inc., Anderson Erickson Dairy and Dairy Farmers of America.

The center already has identified 12 projects that in total will cut carbon by 12 percent or more, and have the additional potential to create $238 million in business value across the industry, according to a press release. Future innovations will account for the rest of the carbon cutting.

According to the release, here are the project areas.

  • Dairy Feed Systems – Focus on nutrient management techniques used to produce grains and forages on dairy farms, and will guide feed production activities by facilitating adoption of agricultural best practices.
  • Farm Energy Audit Program  – Create a model state agricultural energy efficiency program and drive demand for energy audits by educating dairy producers on the benefits.
  • Cow of the Future – Reduce enteric methane, the single largest component of the dairy industry’s carbon footprint, by accelerating identification and adoption of innovative practices and technologies.
  • Dairy Underground – Assess the viability of turning digester-generated methane into salable energy, starting with a pilot program of a cluster of California farms. It also explores various technology options for reducing operational costs.
  • Dairy Power – Address barriers to methane digester adoption by coordinating cross- industry efforts to shape government regulation and conduct a market assessment to identify and prioritize regions with the greatest opportunity for digester adoption.
  • Dairy Processing Carbon through Energy Efficiency (D-CREE) – Encourage identification and adoption of energy efficiency best practices in milk processing plants.
  • Non-Thermal UV Processing – Measure the commercial viability of nonthermal UV technology as an alternative, energy efficient method to heat-based pasteurization.
  • Next Generation Clean-In-Place  – Assess reduced-temperature CIP technologies that have potential to reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions for processors.
  • Dairy Delivery Systems Life Cycle Assessment – Assess the environmental impact of existing and emerging packaging formats and associated processing technologies for fluid milk products, helping identify areas for improvement and innovation.
  • Environmentally Sustainable Methods for Achieving Responsible Transportation (E-SMART) – Adopt transportation and distribution fuel efficiency best practices throughout the dairy industry.
  • Financial Resources – Identify and secure funding sources for the greenhouse gas reduction projects.
  • Common Voice – Communicate the roadmap strategies and create awareness of the greenhouse gas reduction goals, projects, best practices, and results.

In other dairy news, the Organic Center has introduced a calculator to help estimate how shifting dairy cows from conventional management to organic management reduces environmental, public health, and animal welfare impacts.

Additionally, the Organic Center has put out a report, “Shades of Green,” (PDF) that quantifies some of the benefits of organic dairy farming. Those benefits include:

  • a 40 million pound reduction in application of synthetic nitrogen
  • nearly 800,000 pounds in reduced pesticides and herbicides, and
  • nearly 1.8 million fewer hormone and antibiotic treatments.

Increasingly, communities are holding dairies and other agricultural operations to stricter standards.

In Bakersfield, Calif., a lawsuit from the Association of Irritated Residents claims the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District isn’t tough enough to limit volatile organic compounds from the regions cattle farms, which possess more than 2 million animals, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Earlier this year, there was confusion over EPA requirements for emissions reporting for livestock and dairy farmers.

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