Posted: March 28, 2014 at 2:37 pm
By Jamie Johansen
America’s dairy farmers, cooperatives, processors, manufacturers, and other industry leaders applaud today’s announcement by the White House of a Biogas and Energy Roadmap to reduce methane emissions from agriculture.
In its announcement, the White House formally cited the work of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s Sustainability Council, whose efforts in part include a partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to proactively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including methane.
“This announcement validates the path the dairy industry is on – one focused on proactive incentives that can increase farm income, not punitive regulations that would add more costs,” said Jim Mulhern, president and chief executive officer of the National Milk Producers Federation, which develops and carries out policies that advance the well-being of dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own. “Because of our recent efforts and farmers’ long-standing environmental stewardship, the White House strategy for agriculture includes a commitment to cost-effective, voluntary actions to reduce methane emissions through partnerships and programs.”
A Biogas and Energy Roadmap will be developed in partnership with the dairy industry to accelerate the adoption of biogas systems and other cost-effective technologies. For example, the recovery of nitrogen and phosphorus, valuable soil nutrients, has the potential to make these systems revenue-enhancing for dairy farms of all sizes. The roadmap will help the industry seize these opportunities by:
– Breaking down inter-governmental agency barriers, providing dairy operations access to resources because it formally recognizes biogas systems as a proven and effective technology to mitigate environmental risks;
– Stimulating and accelerating research to advance technologies, such as for extracting nutrients from food waste and manure; and
– Attracting additional third-party investment, both financial and technical, to support the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment.
Through the Innovation Center, the dairy industry ramped up its efforts to build business value while reducing environmental impact across the value chain more than five years ago. These efforts provide a way for dairy farm families to turn environmental risks into new revenue streams, and demonstrate farmers’ ongoing commitment to being even better neighbors.
“This is great news for America’s dairy farm families of all sizes across the country,” said Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, which brings together leaders of dairy farmer organizations, cooperatives, processors, manufacturers, and brands to foster innovation. “For decades, dairy farmers have demonstrated a commitment to environmental stewardship, and adopting new practices and technologies along the path to continuous improvement. Our work continues.”
Biogas systems have been singled out because of the significant potential they have to help address methane, which are the single largest source of dairy’s greenhouse gas emissions. These systems recycle cow manure and food waste into valuable co-products like fertilizer, renewable energy and cow bedding. New technologies can optimize this potential and deliver economic benefits to dairy farms and those they work with, as well as the communities in which they operate.
“The roadmap makes good sense – not just for dairy, but for rural communities that realize economic benefits, including job creation, through innovation,” Gallagher said.
The winners of the 2013 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards are featured in a recent Milk Mustache ad, showcasing dairy’s commitment to healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy planet.
From the heart to farm to table.
Good ideas come both large and small…and they all add up to progress. As dairy farm families and food companies, we take actions every day to ensure a healthy future for the next generation. This year’s U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award winners were chosen for the innovative ways they grow their businesses while conserving energy, protecting natural resources and serving their local communities. Discover how those who bring dairy foods to your table are putting sustainability commitment into practice: visit our website.
The 2013 Winners are:
Renee Jacobs, Green Valley Dairy, Wis.; Mark Petersen, Petersen Dairy Farm, Wis.; Chrystal Obbink, Prairieland Dairy, Neb.; Stacie Ballard, Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese, Idaho; Kam Fierstine, Unilever Henderson Ice Cream Plant, Nev.; and Carolyn DeGroot, Skyridge Farms, Wash.
Posted: April 24, 2013 at 1:45 pm
By Cindy Zimmerman
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack today renewed a historic agreement with U.S. dairy producers to accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects and energy efficiency improvements on U.S. dairy farms, both of which help producers diversify revenues and reduce utility expenses on their operations. The pact extends a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.
“Through this renewed commitment, USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will continue research that helps dairy farmers improve the sustainability of their operations,” Vilsack said. “This vital research also will support the dairy industry as it works to reach its long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.”
The Secretary signed the agreement this afternoon at the White House and was joined by representatives of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management, including Thomas P. Gallagher, CEO of the center. One objective of the MOU is to increase the construction of anaerobic digesters and explore innovative ways to use products previously considered waste streams from dairy production, processing and handling.
USDA support for agricultural and waste-to-energy research has played a key role in the agreement’s success to date. Since signing the MOU, USDA has made nearly 180 awards that helped finance the development, construction, and biogas production of anaerobic digester systems with Rural Development programs, such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, Value Added Producer Grants, amongst others. These systems capture methane and produce renewable energy for on-farm use and sale onto the electric grid. Additionally, during this period, USDA awarded approximately 140 REAP loans and grants to help dairy farmers develop other types of renewable energy and energy efficiency systems at their operations.
The Secretary was joined on a conference call to make the announcement by The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy CEO Tom Gallagher and Doug Young, a farmer from NY who has benefited from this MOU.
The dairy industry was well represented and I took the opportunity to talk with a representative from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Laura Mandell serves as the Vice President in Sustainability Communications, she shared with me how the U.S. dairy industry is working to increase the industry’s contributions to healthy people, healthy products and a healthy planet.
“When we think about sustainability the dairy producers define it as the ability to provide consumers with the nutritious products – dairy food & beverages – that they’ve come to enjoy in a way that they can ensure it is produced responsibly. Sustainability really means stewardship dairy farmers have a long heritage of providing, ensuring that they perserve their farm for future generations. That they are minimizing the impact on the environment, but also assuring that their farm is profitable as well. And the third piece of that is contributing to the growth and the viability to the communities in which producers work and live.”
On-farm energy efficiency is also a top priority for the Innovation Center. Tools, resources and financial assistance are now available to help dairy producers reduce energy and costs. If you are interested in finding out what you can do on your own farm, contact your local NRCS office and ask about EQIP.
DeLaval has a new vision. I learned about it at World Dairy Expo from Christian Poggensee, Regional President, North America. Simply put it is, “We make sustainable food production possible.” Christian says it’s not a target but rather something the company wants to be perceived as. Our conversation is contained in this week’s ZimmCast, a regular podcast on AgWired.com.
The company launched their sustainability initiative several years ago. New products development keeps four things in mind: Environment, Animal Welfare, Social Responsibility and Farm Profitability. DeLaval became a sponsor of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards earlier this year.
One of the more fun products by DeLaval that accomplish this are their Swinging Cow Brushes! These were on display in the DeLaval exhibit at World Dairy Expo.
The DeLaval swinging cow brush SCB is designed to improve cow health, comfort and welfare. The swinging cow brush SCB, which starts to rotate on contact, is a revolution in cow care and cow comfort. The unique brush which rotates at an animal-friendly speed, swings freely in all directions, smoothly up, over and alongside the cow to provide comfort all around.
Posted: January 20, 2012 at 10:43 am
By Cindy Zimmerman
California dairy families are proud of the sustainability accomplishments they achieved in 2011.
According to the California dairy farming sustainability coalition Dairy Cares, the state’s dairy industry continued its commitment last year to protect and improve the environment.
Central Valley dairy farmers launched the nation’s largest dairy groundwater monitoring program, a non-profit, collaborative scientific effort to assure that dairy farming practices are protective of California’s precious groundwater resources. Dairy farmers will invest several million dollars in this effort over the next several years. California dairy farmers are already utilizing improved management practices to grow crops in balance with nature and protect groundwater, and results from groundwater monitoring will be used to develop improved management practices where needed and encourage their use.
Meanwhile, dairy farmers continued to do their part in 2011 to reduce air emissions and improve air quality in California’s Central Valley. Dairy farmers across the valley have adopted management practices to reduce emissions by more than 25 percent, while dairy industry organizations continue to invest in cutting-edge research toward cleaner air. Dairy farmers will also continue their efforts to convert manure biogas to clean, green, renewable energy (cow power), building on the accomplishments of pioneering dairy farmers over the past decade.
At World Dairy Expo we got an update on the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards program from Dairy Management, Inc.
The U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards program continues to gain support, as the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® today announced that the newly launched awards program will be judged by a panel of experts from academic institutions, USDA, EPA, World Wildlife Fund, media and dairy industry leaders.
In September, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, in affiliation with the Dairy Research Institute®, announced the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards, a new program to recognize dairy farms, businesses and collaborative partnerships for efforts that deliver outstanding economic, environmental and/or social benefit, thus helping advance sustainability of the dairy industry.
The Innovation Center and Dairy Research Institute were established by America’s dairy farmers to foster innovation and research across the industry.
On hand at Expo to discuss the sustainability awards initiative was California dairy farmer, Steve Maddox. He says they wanted to go out and recognize people who are already doing some of the common sense approaches that research has shown to be effective in improving environmental impacts. They also believe it is important to showcase good practices as an example to other dairy farmers.
Steve says they’re looking for nominations for these awards and the deadline is December 1st. You can find a list of the judges for the awards program in the news release.
Adding a solar power system can give dairy operations a double-benefit. Solar can reduce you utility bills while at the same time helping your business become more sustainable. One dairy farm in Hanford, California has added a 891 kilowatt solar energy system designed and constructed by SPG Solar. It is comprised of 3,240 Suntech solar modules and two Solaron inverters. It is estimated that the system will generate more than 1.7 megawatt hours annually – enough to offset the dairy’s utility power usage by at least 75 percent.
The dairy installed a new solar energy system to power its milking barn and other dairy operations. The family-owned dairy has 7,000 head of cattle and a custom farming business. I don’t know about you but I’m thinking a California cow is a happy cow!
“The recent volatility of milk prices has underscored the importance of hedging our input costs,” said Mike Monteiro, the dairy’s owner. “The solar energy system will help us fix our energy costs and hedge against long term increases in utility power rates.”
The solar system spans four-acres and is robust enough to power Lakeside’s entire dairy operation including an 11,000 square foot milking barn, heifer corral lighting and fans, manure separator equipment and well and irrigation equipment. This is just one effort engaged by the diary operation to become more sustainable. The farm’s manure-handling equipment removes nearly 50 tons of solid manure a day, thus preventing it from going into the lagoon or giving off gases from decomposition.
“Lakeside Dairy continues to show its commitment to solar that positively impacts their operations today, reducing future electricity costs and investing in the community through the creation of green jobs,” said CEO and President of SPG Solar, Chris Robine. “They are laying out a long-term strategy towards the sustainable production and quality of food produced.”
Rabobank provided the construction and term financing for the solar project and will work with Lakeside to help them manage their finances as they pay off the loan. Gianluca Signorelli, Vice President of Renewable Energy Finance for Rabobank added, “By combining the savings from lower utility power bills with federal and state incentives, Rabobank structured the term loan to potentially be cash flow positive throughout the lifetime of the loan. Once the loan is repaid, the solar system is likely to create even larger savings for Lakeside Dairy.”
Posted: March 8, 2011 at 4:21 pm
By Cindy Zimmerman
Today in Reno, Novus International introduced an innovative program to help dairy producers enhance the comfort and well-being of their herds so they can better maximize productivity and enrich dairy industry sustainability. The Novus C.O.W.S. program launched with a new website – www.novuscows.com.
C.O.W.S. stands for Comfort, Oxidative Balance, Well-Being and Sustainability. Each of these four key pillars of the program play an integral role in the objective, systematic approach Novus takes in helping dairy producers evaluate the major factors that impact productive efficiency.
The C.O.W.S. program will be offered to individual key Novus customers as a complementary, value-added service. Confidential farm evaluations will be performed by Novus specialists and include:
• Cow lying time measured with electronic data loggers;
• Gait scores and hock health;
• Facility design and management measures that affect cow comfort
A customized report is provided to each farm, along with benchmarks of other operations in the region, so producers can gauge whether they have problems that should be addressed.
U.S. program benchmarks are currently being established through the evaluation of 140 dairy operations in California, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Texas. The program is based on a recently completed study by the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program that analyzed on-farm cow comfort assessment with 43 free-stall dairies in that province.
Find out more in this introductory video from Novus:
Posted: December 30, 2010 at 7:00 pm
By John Davis
Dairy farmers are moving to more sustainable operations, and Novus International, sponsor of this program, has opened a research farm that tests its products and ways to be sustainable.
In this edition of the Milking Parlor, we take a look at Green Acres, Novus’ research farm that uses several sustainable features, including collecting the wastewater and composting and a soon-to-be-operational solar array that will help provide power while Novus tests its products in a real-world environment. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 15-acre Green Acres, we talked with Novus CEO and President Thad Simons; manager of Product Services for Novus, Skip Hampton; and Missouri Director of Agriculture Jon Hagler about the facility, as well as catching up with Novus’ Director of Product Management Wendell Knehans, who explains Novus’ “triple bottom line” concept.
I’m borrowing from the Alltech blog, Innovations, here. They produced a short video to answer a question very important to dairy farmers. How would you answer the question?
What is the most important thing for a dairy farmer to consider with regard to economic sustainability?
Sustainability means many things to many people. Geoff Frank is CEO of Improcrop, an Alltech Regional Sales Manager and a dairy farmer. I asked Geoff to describe the most important issue for dairy farmers as the industry strives for economic sustainability.
A forward looking panel of experts spoke to the Alltech Global 500 today. Their topic, “Forecast 2025: A vision for the future.” Now that’s not an easy task!
I spoke with one of the panelists, Mandi McLeod, Dunvegan Farms, Ltd, New Zealand. Mandi says the future is about doing what you do well and focusing on the resources you have, in fact, “use them to the absolute maximum.” She says that you have to make sure your profits and people are sustainable and that profits come before production. She was very clear that by 2025 she hopes there will be no subsidies. I asked her what sustainability means to her. She provides a very common sense definition. Too bad there are so many that aren’t! She says farmers here are curious about prices and controls and how to become more profitable.
Posted: September 22, 2010 at 7:27 pm
By News Editor
The U.S. dairy industry announced today that it has completed a carbon footprint study that measured the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with a gallon of milk in the United States. The carbon footprint study, together with data from additional studies measuring GHG emissions, helps validate that total U.S. dairy GHG emissions are approximately 2 percent of total U.S. emissions. This is far less than earlier figures reported about the global livestock industry that were incorrectly attributed to U.S. dairy.
Researchers followed the journey of a gallon of milk from the beginning of the life cycle when crops are grown to feed cows; milk is produced and delivered to processors; through processing, packaging and distribution; all the way to the purchase and disposal of the gallon of milk by the consumer. The completion of the study is a significant first step for the dairy industry in a comprehensive, science-based approach to measure and improve its environmental footprint.
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy commissioned the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas to conduct the GHG LCA of fluid milk, also called the carbon footprint study. Dr. Greg Thoma, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Arkansas and lead investigator of the study, will present the findings tomorrow at the International Food LCA Conference.
The carbon footprint study identifies opportunities for efficiency and innovation across the fluid milk supply chain, including feed efficiency, manure management, energy management and fuel efficiency. A key finding indicates that management practices are an important driver of the carbon footprint for farms, plants and transportation fleets, rather than the geographic region, business model, or size of the farm or organization.
The carbon footprint study will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 2011. In addition, studies on nutritional value, economic impact and other environmental measures such as water quality and conservation are under way as the industry seeks more ways to work together for a healthy planet.
One of the important lessons the students learned during the 2nd annual “Science: A Foundation for Dynamic Careers” days at Novus International’s suburban St. Louis headquarters and rural Missouri research farm was that Novus is more than just an animal agriculture company. It’s a sustainability company.
Experts say the world’s population will be 9 billion by 2050 … but maybe only half the land used for agriculture now will be available to feed that population in 40 years. The point wasn’t lost on Avila University in Kansas City senior Neemah Ngega. The biochemistry major says she was impressed with how Novus is working to get more food out of shrinking resources for the world’s growing population.
“That’s a crucial point that I don’t think a lot of young people understand … including myself. The more I got engaged today, the more I learned how important of a problem we’re going to be facing as a world, not just a nation. For the science [Novus] engages in to help produce more food, I think, is commendable.”
Born and raised in Tanzania, Africa and moving to this country when she was young has given Ngega a unique perspective. “I think I’ve learned a lot, and there’s so much I could utilize in my future studies and future work… getting other people engaged and teaching other people what I’ve learned today.”
She says Novus’ work to better the world through minimizing the amount of space needed to grow an increased amount of food truly makes Novus a sustainability company. “The more we become better on sustaining not just the food industry, but all around – water, economic, land and people – it’s going to help.”
Listen to John Davis’ interview with Neemah in the player below.