The checkoff-founded Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, Rosemont, Ill., announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The MOU will open doors for increased collaboration in areas of mutual interest and allow the agency to gain a deeper understanding of and support for U.S. dairy farmers and the broader dairy community’s environmental sustainability efforts.

The MOU, which formalizes a relationship that began in 2012, was announced during the fall meeting of the Dairy Sustainability Alliance, Nov. 9-10. The MOU allows the EPA to participate as a member of the alliance, which consists of more than 130 companies and organizations that collaborate on issues affecting the U.S. dairy industry, accelerate progress toward shared sustainability goals and contribute to the industry’s long-term viability, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy said.

“This MOU is significant as it indicates a recognition of U.S. dairy’s leadership in environmental stewardship and brings greater support for creating a sustainable future that is economically viable for U.S. dairy farmers and the dairy community,” Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy President Barbara O’Brien said. “The MOU will explore mutually beneficial opportunities for dairy farms of all sizes, geographies and practices to gain benefits from EPA resources, including research grants, educational training materials and data.”

The alliance meeting, with more than 400 registrants spanning the dairy value chain, featured updates on ongoing initiatives to inform and share progress toward the industry’s collective 2050 environmental stewardship goals, said the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, including:

  • A panel featuring representatives from The Nature Conservancy and Unilever explored how dairy farms can find economically viable ways to increase habitat and support ecosystem health. Michigan dairy farmer James Webster shared how through cover crops and natural areas that increase soil microorganisms and provide habitat for animals, his farm is helping to address biodiversity challenges that are increasingly important to consumers.
  • A discussion led by Dr. Frank Mitloehner, professor and air quality specialist and director of CLEAR Center at University of California, Davis, addressed a modified metric for quantifying the global warming potential of short-lived emissions such as methane more accurately.
  • Representatives from Land O’Lakes, Great Lakes Cheese and Schreiber Foods shared insights and lessons learned from efforts to address packaging waste and identify future sustainable innovations.

Gallagher acknowledged the work already being done by the collective industry and efforts led by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy to align the industry around these efforts.

For information about U.S. Dairy’s sustainability efforts, visit