Global Dairy Industry Aims to Cut Climate Impacts

Global Dairy Industry Aims to Cut Climate Impacts

At the World Dairy Summit yesterday, industry associations from around the world signed a pact to reduce emissions associated with milk production, as well as develop and share innovations for lower-impact milk processing, packaging and distribution.

The Global Dairy Agenda for Action was signed by seven trade organizations representing the world's dairies; in addition to helping dairies reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the action plan also calls on policymakers to recognize the importance of the diary industry to global health while also developing a policy framework to encourage dramatic reductions in GHG emissions.

"It makes good sense to reduce GHG emissions -- it saves money and improves efficiency in production." Richard Doyle, President of the International Dairy Federation, said in a statement. "This initiative encourages and shares new and innovative technologies and practices for including energy efficiencies on our farms, by food manufacturers and in our warehouses."

In announcing the pact, industry groups also unveiled a new website,, that will highlight news, resources and tools about the dairy industry's environmental improvements.

The groups also highlighted a recent study by Cornell University researchers showing that in the past 60 years dairy farms have managed to reduce emissions per gallon of milk by 37 percent through efficiency measures and better management practices.
One increasingly popular method for reducing emissions from dairy farms involves methane capture, which can convert discharges from cow waste and flatulence into heat and electricity. Pacific Gas & Electric, the California utility, began one such project in March 2008, using a 5,000-cow farm in Fresno to provide 3 billion cubic feet of biogas per year.

Earlier this year, Stonyfield Farm reduced their cows' impact through a simple diet change, cutting emissions by 18 percent while improving their health and the quality of their milk.

And a recent radio report from Living On Earth found that methane-capture facilities can face hurdles from air-quality boards for potentially contributing other pollutants into the air while removing methane.

The global dairy industry will begin reporting results of their global emissions-reductions efforts in 24 months, and will report progress biannually after that.