National dairy sustainability summit addresses carbon footprint
June 20, 2008 - - The national dairy industry held a historic summit this
week in Arkansas as 270 people from all segments of the industry’s supply chain
gathered in Rogers, Arkansas, to identify opportunities in the fluid milk value
chain to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase business value. The
unprecedented gathering included representatives from companies that process,
manufacture, distribute, and sell milk, as well as experts in environmental
science, conservation, and agriculture. There were several representatives from
California, reports WUD’s communications manager, Mark Looker, reflective of
California’s leading-edge reputation on sustainability issues.
Merced dairyman Simon Vander Woude, a WUD member, said he attended the summit to learn more about the national initiative and came away impressed by the wide interest across all segments of the supply chain in the continued viability of the dairy industry. “I was impressed that we were in this room with 270 people, about 30 of them producers, and the other 240 who really cared about the industry. It impressed me that so many people are concerned about our industry.”
Vander Woude hopes the summit will lead to a national call for action aimed at policymakers and regulators. “We have a lot of challenges back home on the farm from regulators who don’t care for any type of change. Until we can get them on board, a lot of these things won’t happen,” he said, referring to the summit’s broad range of proposed initiatives to create breakthrough approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase business value within the fluid milk supply chain.
The participants broke into an estimated 20 working groups to look at various practices that might offer opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while building business value. Those opportunities included methane digesters, manure and nutrient management, animal nutrition management, truck and route efficiency, shelf-stable products, and low carbon packaging. The challenge, said event organizers, will be to continue the momentum for those projects following the summit’s conclusion. The summit was sponsored by Dairy Management, Inc.; International Dairy Foods Association; National Milk Producers Federation; and the University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center.