Ask a Dairy Farmer: What Are You Doing for the Environment?

  • Article
  • 2 min read September 30, 2019

Few if any of the foods we eat and love are produced without an environmental footprint to bring them from farm to table. From water and land use to energy consumption, the dairy industry seeks to minimize that impact.


“I think any dairy farmer is a steward of the environment,” says Stephen Maddox of Maddox Dairies in California in this latest “Ask a Dairy Farmer” video. And while that may sound self-serving, dairy farmers have a long legacy of environmental stewardship. Even before anyone knew what a carbon footprint was, dairy farmers have improved breeding techniques, quality animal care, specialized feeding practices and technology. Today, each gallon of milk produced requires 90 percent less land and 65 percent less water, with a 63 percent smaller carbon footprint than it did almost 70 years ago.

That commitment to change on behalf of the environment to help contribute to a sustainable food system is top of mind to today’s dairy farmers, regardless of where they farm.

“We’re really working with our land and our animals to make sure we’re going to be around for several generations,” says Abigail Copenhaver of Ivy Lakes Dairy in New York.

“What we are today is going to be different than what we are 10 years from now,” says Jim Werkhoven of Washington’s Werkhoven Dairy. “Just like our farm today is way better at what it does than what it was a generation ago.”

Dairy contributes to a natural nutrient cycle, from nourishing communities to nourishing animals to nourishing the land. Dairy farmers and the dairy community have a long-standing stewardship commitment to health and wellness and contributing to sustainable food systems.

You can read more about dairy’s environmental commitment in these stories, “Ask Dr. Dairy: Is Dairy Environmentally Friendly?”. And read on for even more dairy cow facts.