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Dairy Facts 2016

GHG Emissions for Dairy Are Low, FAO Report Shows

Apr 23, 2010

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released on Monday a new report related to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) for the global dairy industry. The report shows that dairy accounts for 4.1 percent of total GHG emissions associated with milk production, processing and transportation, as well as meat production from dairy cows. When meat production is excluded, the figure drops to 2.7 percent.

"This new data is good news for the dairy industry," said Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs, "because it is significantly lower than the 18 percent figure for global livestock agriculture cited in a 2006 FAO report. That number has been mentioned frequently in the media and often erroneously attributed to dairy GHG emissions."

The new report, "Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Dairy Sector - A Life Cycle Assessment," covers all major milk production systems and focuses on the entire dairy chain. FAO conducted the assessment as part of its ongoing effort to review and recommend options for mitigating the effects of climate change.

Under the umbrella of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, IDFA and many member companies are working with other industry organizations and the University of Arkansas to complete a comprehensive life-cycle assessment for fluid milk. The core team just completed its draft report and plans to submit it for publication in a peer-reviewed journal this fall. A life-cycle assessment for the cheese industry is also underway.

For more information, contact Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs, at


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