California Dairies Inc. (CDI), the largest dairy farmer-owned cooperative in California and second largest in the United States, announced the formal launch of an initiative aimed at measuring, validating and further improving sustainable business practices.

Visalia, Calif.-based CDI said it assembled a team of experts in the field of sustainability across numerous priority areas: from environmental stewardship to employee welfare to animal husbandry and beyond. Its team has substantial knowledge of the dairy industry and expertise in sustainability from farm to consumer. Over the coming months, this team will work to quantify the current baseline status of CDI’s supply chain in key areas of sustainability, as well as lay out a roadmap of goals and targets going forward.

“Given our exclusive production in California, CDI’s member farms understand the responsibility that comes with producing milk and have been on the leading edge of the sustainability movement,” said Brad Anderson, president and CEO. “Together with the industry experts we have teamed up with, we look forward to formally quantifying those efforts in the coming months in order to better communicate the work being done to our customers, consumers and government regulators, as we chart an achievable roadmap for the future.”

CDI said the announcement builds on a long history of focus on sustainability by the cooperative and its family dairy farms. Twenty years ago, before sustainability became a household term, CDI co-founded Dairy Cares, a nonprofit pursuing research and innovation in the area of sustainable dairy practices in California. According to a 2020 study in the Journal of Dairy Science, California dairies have already reduced the amount of land (89%), water (88%) and greenhouse gases (45%) per gallon of milk produced over a 50-year period.

More recently, in 2020, CDI joined farmer cooperatives and other dairy companies around the United States, led by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, in co-signing the 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals, which include a goal to be carbon neutral or better by the year 2050. The latest announcement and the work being done is key to delivering on this commitment, CDI said.

“CDI’s membership has been leading the way in sustainable dairy farming investments, from water conservation to renewable solar energy to anaerobic digesters and more, and we continue to move as fast as technology and on-farm economics allow,” said Simon Vander Woude, chairman of CDI’s board of directors. “This is an opportunity to showcase that hard work, while doubling down to drive innovation and further improve our environmental footprint, ensuring that our farms produce some of the most sustainable milk in the world, across all the various pillars of sustainability.”