The Shocking Truth About the Dairy Industry

The consumption of milk and other dairy products began with the domestication of livestock, with dairy remaining an important part of meals for thousands of years.  

Today, though, the role of dairy in our diet is questioned due to its supposed environmental impact. Dairy detractors state that the dairy industry is unsustainable, creating large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions for little gain to humans. 

With these claims in mind, there’s a shocking truth about the US dairy industry: the US dairy industry only contributes to 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the country. All agriculture produces 9% of emissions in the US, while animal agriculture produces 3.9% of emissions. 

Further, this study says dairy cows themselves contributed 1.3% of all US greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, breaking down the percentages of dairy farm emissions at the time and how they can be improved. With the US dairy industry working to improve practices, don’t be surprised if this number decreases in the coming years. 

With such harmful claims, why isn’t that percentage of dairy’s impact higher? 

The US dairy industry has committed to becoming net neutral by 2050. The implementation of better genetic practices, feed diets, and technology is making the dairy industry more environmentally friendly. 

Why is it so important that dairy farm practices be sustainable? 

Milk offers 13 essential nutrients. Dairy products provide a variety of benefits and play an important role in the diet. Many Americans do not consume enough dairy each day, though its benefits can help Americans with 3 of the 4 nutrients of concern—calcium, potassium, and vitamin D—difficult to consume enough of without dairy foods. The truth is dairy foods benefit us, and dairy farmers are working every day to make them benefit the Earth, too.

The Dairy Industry is Vital

The dairy industry is a large part of the U.S. economy.

Without a doubt, the dairy industry is a critical part of our agricultural sector and economy. The dairy sector contributes for almost 3.5% of the United States GDP (over $752 billion) each year.

Equally as important, dairy farms are family-owned and operated. They are the income to many rural families around the country.

Cow’s milk and dairy are an important part of a well-balanced diet.

The health benefits of dairy are endless. Honestly, where would we be without dairy in our lives? Dairy is a creamy, nutritious delight that can easily be added to breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, beverages, skincare, and more. Where would good old Americana be without dairy? Even if you are lactose-intolerant, dairy can be a part of your everyday life.

For more information or questions on the dairy industry, dairy cows, dairy farms, or dairy recipes, visit the Dairy Alliance’s blog. You can also contact us anytime here.