Dairy farmers have a long heritage as responsible stewards of the land, air and water. In fact, compared with 1944, the dairy industry now produces a gallon of milk using:
- 90 percent less cropland
- 65 percent less water
- 76 percent less manure
- 63 percent lower carbon footprint1
There’s room to do more.
Today, the world's population growth is putting further pressure on our finite resources, and consumers want to know that the dairy foods and beverages they enjoy are produced responsibly. Through the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment, dairy farmers, dairy processors, retailers and businesses are working together so they can continue to provide products that are nutritious, produced responsibly and economically viable for all.
How We Got Here: Our Story
2007: Leaders from across the dairy industry come together to chart a bold path forward and develop a definition of sustainability for our industry.
Our definition of sustainability is: Providing consumers with the nutritious dairy products they want, in a way that makes the industry, people and the earth economically, environmentally and socially better — now and for future generations.
2008: More than 250 representatives from the entire value chain participate in the inaugural Sustainability Summit — a three-day appreciative inquiry workshop. Here, the industry developed a vision, goals and projects to guide the Sustainability Commitment, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase business value across the dairy value chain.
Learn more: Read the Roadmap to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Increase Business Value. The roadmap outlines the Innovation Center’s sustainability projects, which are estimated to increase business value by $238 million and reduce GHG emissions.
2009: The dairy industry commits to a voluntary goal to reduce GHG emissions of fluid milk by 25 percent by 2020, and begins work on the innovation projects.
The Innovation Center also forms key collaborative partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and also signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
2010: The Innovation Center completes the first national GHG life cycle assessment of fluid milk.
Today: Dairy producers from across the country are working with every segment of the value chain to find new ways to best manage our businesses — efficiently, cost-effectively and responsibly.
More than 830 industry professionals contribute their time and expertise to the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment.
In 2011, industry stakeholders invested nearly 54,000 hours, reflecting an estimated $6.2 million in business value.
1J. L. Capper, R. A. Cady and D. E. Bauman, “The environmental impact of dairy production: 1944 compared with 2007,” Journal of Animal Science 87 (March 13, 2009): 2160-2167.