The Stewardship and Sustainability Guide for US Dairy identifies indicators for assessing dairy sustainability and communicating results. The indicators are based on scientific life cycle assessment studies commissioned by the Innovation Center, and the practical experience of industry members and others from nongovernmental, academic and government organizations.
In addition to helping dairy companies voluntarily asses their environmental footprint, the Guide gives retailers and manufacturers information to track their sustainable sourcing and supply chain management goals, says Starbuck’s Kelly Goodejohn, director, ethical sourcing.
The Guide — now available for a 60-day open stakeholder consultation period — has been through an industrywide process of testing, piloting and refining content and incorporates initial input from dairy producers, cooperatives and dairy processors, the Innovation Center says. The consultation period runs through July 14.
Last month, the Innovation Center said an online tool to help dairies calculate their environmental footprint is being tested by producers.
Farm Smart currently focuses on voluntary self-assessment in four areas: energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water quality and water use. But future versions of the tool will help producers identify and assess sustainable agriculture management practices to make dairies more cost-efficient and productive, the industry group says.
For example, the tool can help a dairy producer considering conservation tillage or precision fertilizer practices estimate reductions in input costs and GHG emissions, says Doug Young, general partner of Spruce Haven Farm and Research Center in Union Springs, NY.
Earlier this year, Dairy UK signed an agreement with the the Waste and Resources Action Programme to cut the dairy industry’s water use and improve its water management.