Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a Kansas City, Kan.-based dairy cooperative owned by family farmers, announced a continued step forward in its commitment to sustainability, as it becomes the first U.S. dairy cooperative to set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

As a cooperative invested in the dairy supply chain from farm to table, DFA is taking a strong position by setting a science-based target and committing to reduce both direct and value chain GHG emissions by 30% by 2030, from a base year of 2018. By having their targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), DFA said it is supporting the Paris agreement’s broader goals to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Additionally, DFA’s target is aligned with work of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and its goals for the U.S. dairy industry to become carbon-neutral or better by 2050.

“Our dairy farm families have always been great stewards of the land and environmentally focused because it protects the land for future generations,” said David Darr, senior vice president and chief strategy and sustainability officer for DFA. “While the entire dairy industry from farm to manufacturer only contributes about 2% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, we know it’s imperative to keep doing better and making improvements. So, we’re proud to take action and set this science-based target, which will help us further reduce our carbon footprint and do our part in taking care of our planet.”

To reduce climate impact and reach its science-based target, DFA, its businesses and its farm family-owners will work across its supply chain to reduce GHG emissions on farms, in processing plants and on the road. Key strategies to achieve the target, DFA said, include:

  • Mitigating methane emissions from cows by supporting advances in feed efficiency, herd nutrition and feed additives designed to reduce emissions.
  • Using renewable energy methods such as solar panels and wind power on farms and in plants.
  • Using anaerobic digesters, which convert manure and food waste to energy, on farms and in plants.
  • Capturing emissions through healthy soil and crops.
  • Creating transportation and hauling efficiencies to reduce emissions.
  • Exploring innovative technologies and solutions to reduce emissions and promote environmental stewardship.

In addition to these efforts, DFA said it is exploring emerging technologies and working with other industry partners, including Vanguard Renewables, a Massachusetts-based renewable-energy developer, to benefit its farm family-owners’ operations and reduce GHG emissions.

“We began working with Vanguard a few years ago, and our partnership with them continues to grow, as we think there’s a lot of opportunity to create synergies between our farms and plants,” said Darr. “In addition, we’re also looking at some innovative solutions to reduce food waste with startup companies, so there’s a lot of excitement for how we can continue to accelerate our sustainability initiatives.”

The science-based target goal DFA announced is the latest step in the cooperative’s commitment to sustainably and responsibly produce milk and other dairy products. Earlier this year, DFA released its 2020 Social Responsibility Report, “A Mark of Purpose,” which details its overall sustainability strategy and commitment to the planet, its people and communities, DFA said.

“We congratulate Dairy Farmers of America for becoming the first U.S. dairy cooperative to have its emissions reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative,” said Alberto Carrillo Pineda, drector, science based targets and renewable energy at CDP, one of the Science Based Targets initiative partners. “By setting targets that are grounded in climate science, Dairy Farmers of America is positioning themselves as leaders in their sector and setting themselves up for success in the transition to a net-zero economy.”