Have you ever asked yourself what makes you get out of bed in the morning? It might be your family, friends, job, passion or a combination of them all! Dairy farmers are no exception: they work 365 days a year to bring us the milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream our families love! If you ever wonder what motivates dairy farmers, sustainability and their love for the land are two things that drive them day in and day out. Since 95% of dairy farms in the U.S. are family-owned, these efforts guarantee passing the farm to the next generation.
So, what is sustainability? For dairy farmers it’s the practice of continuous improvement to provide nutritious dairy foods in a way that makes farms, people and the earth more environmentally, economically and socially better – now and for future generations. Here are five ways dairy farmers achieve this every day:
- Naturally, there are odors associated with farming. More and more dairy farmers recycle manure by injecting it below the soil’s surface to help control odor in the community.
- Dairy farmers help protect air quality by following proper manure storage practices and maintaining clean farms.
- Dairy farms recycle water an average of three to five times. For example, water used to clean the milking parlor is reused to clean barn alleys or walkways, then again to irrigate fields.
- One gallon of milk is now produced with 65% less water than it was decades ago.
- Dairy farmers can plant less water-intensive crops to feed their cows when water is scarce. Hear more from actual dairy farmers about recycling water on their farms!
- Manure is used as a natural fertilizer on crops or gardens to grow more food, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.
- It’s also composted to minimize environmental impact and improve soil health, which benefits the crops farmers grow to feed their cows.
- Some farms have methane digesters that convert waste into electricity to power the farm and even part of the surrounding community.
Cows: the Ultimate Recyclers
- 80% of a dairy cow’s diet isn’t consumable by humans. They take things we can’t eat and turn them into dairy foods we love!
Reducing Carbon Footprint
- The latest research shows that the U.S. dairy industry accounts for only about 2% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and farmers are working on ways to reduce that figure even more!
- The dairy industry is on track to meet a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by the year 2020.
Click here to learn more about how dairy farmers care for the environment!