The company evaluated on-farm greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms in a diverse range of climates using different management practices.
University of Wisconsin-Madison's assessment reveals that, on average, the dairy farms of Organic Valley's members have a smaller carbon footprint than average US conventional and organic dairy overall.
The most significant difference in calculations of the carbon footprint of Organic Valley milk is in the inclusion of carbon sequestration from pasture as well as from forage and crop production. Including carbon sequestration in the LCA reduced the net farm emissions of the cooperative's dairy farms by an average of 15%.
On average, Organic Valley farmers reported engaging in 50% more pasture grazing than that required by the National Organic Program, and the LCA results are impacted by this difference. In 2022, the full LCA will be completed, and Organic Valley will publish the overall impact of the cooperative's organic milk.
"This LCA represents the most comprehensive organic dairy environmental impact assessment in the United States completed to date. The LCA covers a wide range of regions and management practices and includes the development of an innovative accounting method for carbon sequestration by Dr Aguirre-Villegas," said Dr Rebecca Larson, UW - Madison professor.
In light of the study, the cooperative is debuting its commitment to a carbon-neutral supply chain by 2050 at New Hope's Expo West. The cooperative is setting milestones to reach the goal, aiming for 15% of the way to being carbon neutral by 2030 and 30% by 2035.
"Our LCA provides evidence of our lower-than-average farm carbon footprint. Our company-owned facilities are powered with 100% renewable electricity, and we're continually exploring ways to reduce the business' impact further," said Nicole Rakobitsch, director of sustainability at Organic Valley.
"Together, our farms, our business, and our supply chain will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon."
Organic Valley said it plans to achieve its climate goal without purchasing external carbon credits. Instead of offsetting emissions with credits, it said it will reduce or eliminate emissions in the first place and maximize carbon sequestration on Organic Valley family farms across the country.