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Sustainability Resource Tracks Dairy’s Improvements

Aug 24, 2016

In 2012, more than 200 organizations, including IDFA, began a collaborative effort to develop a framework that would help dairy producers and processors to measure, report and communicate their progress on sustainability. Working through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the group released the initial framework in 2013 and continued to test, pilot and review the results for refinement.

Just last week, the Innovation Center released an update, titled “The Stewardship and Sustainability Framework for U.S. Dairy,” that includes several new indicators and metrics that were developed with input from stakeholders across the dairy supply chain. Common indicators for dairy farms and dairy companies include energy intensity, greenhouse gas intensity, water quantity and resource recovery. Specific indicators for farmers include nutrient management and animal care, while targeted indicators for dairy processors include employee investment and engagement, community contributions and educational opportunities.

“This voluntary framework supports everyday efforts by dairy cooperatives and dairy foods companies that want to track and communicate their sustainability progress,” said Emily Lyons, IDFA director of regulatory affairs and counsel, who heads sustainability efforts at IDFA and has worked with the Innovation Center on this project. “We know that sustainability also resonates with retailers and other customers, so they can use the framework to track their suppliers’ continuous improvement.”

The collaborative effort will continue, with updates to the framework released periodically to reflect the latest scientific information and best practices. The most recent version of “The Stewardship and Sustainability Framework for U.S. Dairy” is available here.

IDFA and the Innovation Center currently are working with a team of representatives from dairy foods companies to develop a processor handbook as a supplemental resource. To participate in this project or for more information, contact Lyons at

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