We celebrate Earth Day on April 22 to recognize the importance of maintaining our planet’s health. Out of all of us, dairy farmers best understand the importance of being environmentally friendly and using sustainable farming practices all year long. After all, they see the importance of keeping milk an accessible beverage. Milk is already touted for its health benefits, and what is good for your body is also good for the planet.
Before the carbon footprint was a concern to consumers, dairy farmers were already acting as environmental stewards. Between 1944 and 2007, dairy farmers voluntarily reduced their carbon footprint by 63 percent, taking 90% less land, 65% less water, and a 63% smaller carbon footprint. Despite milk production increasing, needed feed decreased 77% for 79% fewer cows, allowing for 75% less manure waste. Even more impressive, a follow-up assessment looking from 2007 through 2017 found that these numbers had decreased even more!
Dairy farmers innovate for more efficient and practical systems, but they aren’t ready to stop there. In 2007, data showed dairy farms then contributed only 2% of the total greenhouse gases in the United States, yet dairy farmers made a commitment to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by another 25% by 2020. Though 2020 is here, farmers aren’t ready to stop further aiding the planet than they already have. Farmers rely on the earth for their livelihood and want to pass it along to their children, so they make caring for and respecting the planet a priority. Dairy farmers will continue to use today’s science and research to find innovative ways to make their dairies even more environmentally friendly, as using sustainable practices reduces operation costs and ensures a healthy Earth for future generations.
Milk’s ability to remain relevant as a healthy beverage for thousands of years reflects its strength as a sustainable food that not only contributes to human health but also the health of our environment. Learn from your local dairy farmers, who continuously strive to better care for the land they work so they can help create a healthy planet for all. Instead of ignoring inefficiencies in common practices, farmers look for areas of improvement and fix it. There are no excuses! With the benefits to these continual changes showing, their resolve doesn’t fade. Dedicated to environmental innovations, dairy farms continue to improve their environmental practices to produce a healthy drink for a healthy world.