The initiative is a component of US dairy’s environmental stewardship goals, endorsed by dairy industry leaders and farmers, to achieve carbon neutrality, optimized water usage and improved water quality by 2050.
“The U.S. dairy community has been working together to provide the world with responsibly-produced, nutritious dairy foods,” said Mike Haddad, chairman, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
“With the entire dairy community at the table – from farmers and cooperatives to processors, household brands and retailers – we’re leveraging U.S. dairy’s innovation, diversity and scale to drive continued environmental progress and create a more sustainable planet for future generations.”
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy also announced a milestone on its journey toward carbon neutrality – an up to $10m commitment and multi-year partnership with Nestlé to support the Net Zero Initiative and scale access to environmental practices and resources on farms across the country.
“Supporting and enabling farmers through the Net Zero Initiative has the potential to transform the dairy industry,” said Jim Wells, chief supply chain officer for Nestlé USA.
“Scaling up climate-smart agricultural initiatives is key to Nestlé’s ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and will help reduce the carbon footprint of many of our brands. We are excited to collaborate with US dairy and our suppliers to contribute to an even more sustainable dairy supply chain.”
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy – a forum that convenes dairy farmers and industry stakeholders across the value chain – developed the 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals. Leveraging a third-party reviewed materiality assessment, the industry prioritized the most pressing areas of environmental sustainability as the foundation for its goals: Become carbon neutral or better; optimize water use while maximizing recycling; and improve water quality by optimizing utilization of manure and nutrients.
The Net Zero Initiative is a collaboration of dairy organizations. Many of the practices and technologies needed to reach the industry’s goals largely exist but require further research and development and overall greater accessibility across farms of all sizes and geographies. Through foundational science, on-farm pilots and development of new product markets, the Net Zero Initiative aims to remove barriers and create incentives for farmers that will lead to economic viability and positive environmental impact.
Nestlé is the first of what the US dairy community hopes will be many partners joining the Net Zero Initiative.
The dairy community said it will continue to demonstrate its progress in the environment, animal care, food safety/traceability and community contributions through the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment. As of October 2020, 27 dairy companies, representing 68% of the nation’s milk production, have voluntarily adopted the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment.
“We know a lot more is possible – proven science and evidence from dairy’s existing best practices tells us we can get to net zero. This is not only good for dairy farmers, it’s also good for all businesses that serve dairy, the communities where we farm and the millions of people who enjoy dairy every day,” added Haddad.