Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack yesterday commended U.S. dairy farmers and processors for their commitment to economic and environmental sustainability following the unveiling of the carbon footprint study of the U.S. fluid milk sector. The study, the first of its kind for a U.S. agricultural product, was officially presented on Wednesday at the International Conference on Food Life Cycle Assessment in Bari, Italy.
"American agriculture can play an important role in reducing carbon emissions and improving the environment, and the dairy industry in particular has been a leader on these issues," Vilsack said. "This carbon footprint study will be very helpful to all stakeholders in the dairy industry, and I look forward to working with dairy producers, processors and the entire value chain on efforts that benefit the environment and improve the economic viability of the industry."
The study is the dairy industry's initial step in a comprehensive, science-based approach to measure and improve its carbon footprint. It will provide a scientific basis to identify research needs and enable the industry to identify and measure management practices and technologies that are most effective in increasing productivity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Together with data from additional studies, the carbon footprint study indicates that total U.S. dairy greenhouse gas emissions are approximately 2 percent of total U.S. emissions.
"Sustainability has become a new way of living and a new standard for managing how we do business," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "This study is helping dairy businesses to see that reducing greenhouse gas emissions not only meets consumers' expectations for more earth-friendly products, but also reduces plant operation costs."
More information about the study, which was commissioned by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, is available here.