ROSEMONT, Ill.- The Dairy Sustainability Alliance®of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy recently concluded its eighth annual Dairy Sustainability Forum. The two-day event hosted more than 200 attendees, including 40 dairy farmers as well as processors, major food companies, environmental organizations and government officials. The primary topic of discussion was working across the industry to advance U.S. dairy’s key role in addressing sustainability in the global food system.
A key part of the event was devoted to reporting progress through the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment. The Stewardship Commitment was launched by the Innovation Center in late 2018 to demonstrate and transparently report how U.S. dairy is responsibly produced and positively impacts communities in important areas such as environmental and animal care.
“The Stewardship Commitment draws upon globally recognized standards and delivers on our aim to work collaboratively from farm to retail to advance U.S. dairy sustainability,” said Barbara O’Brien, president of Dairy Management Inc. and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
Twenty-two dairy cooperatives and processors have adopted the Stewardship Commitment, representing two-thirds of all milk produced in the U.S. Going forward the Stewardship Commitment will enable these and other companies to report progress and show positive social, economic and environmental impact.
Integral to ongoing progress is new technological innovations and resources, which were also a key focus of the forum. For example, advances in practices and technologies like the use of cover crops and perennial crops were presented. Attendees also heard about developments in the ways cow manure can be converted into clean power, renewable fuel for vehicles and high-quality fertilizers for healthy soils. “Dairy is a part of the environmental solution,” said Newtrient CEO Steven Rowe, who addressed the forum.
Another forum topic highlighted the work of Dairy Nourishes America (DNA), a partnership between the U.S. dairy community and Feeding America focused on developing community-level engagements to increase the servings of milk, cheese and yogurt for more than 40 million food-insecure Americans. Presentations and discussions focused on expanding the relationships between dairy companies and food banks to provide more consistent supply of nutritious dairy foods to those in need, given dairy is one of the top requested items at food banks.
Forum attendees also received a copy of the 2018 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report, which details the community’s progress and actions in important areas such as the environment and animal care.
Finally, the eighth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards ceremony honored innovative dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals and the planet. Click here for more information on this year’s winners.
Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®is a forum that brings together the dairy community to address the changing needs and expectations of consumers through a framework of shared best practices and accountability. Initiated in 2008 by dairy farmers through the dairy checkoff, we collaborate on efforts that are important both to us and our valued customers – issues like animal care, food safety, nutrition and health, the environment and economics. The Innovation Center is committed to continuous improvement from farm to table, striving to ensure a socially responsible and economically viable dairy community. Visit USDairy.com for more information about the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
The Dairy Sustainability Alliance® is the vehicle for broad stakeholder engagement with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®. It is a multi-stakeholder group consisting of individuals from across the dairy community, including farmers, cooperatives, processors, industry suppliers, food service and retail, government, civil society and agricultural groups. Through in-person meetings, webinars and newsletters, Dairy Sustainability Alliance® members share knowledge, collaborate on issues affecting the industry at large and accelerate progress toward common sustainability goals.