Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) provided its Climate Action Plan progress and other stewardship commitment updates in its new 2022 Stewardship Report. The TCCA Climate Action Plan aligns with the Innovation for U.S. Dairy's Stewardship Commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. To spur progress toward the net-zero goal, TCCA set its own interim goal of 30% reduction in absolute emissions by 2030.
"We are making gradual progress towards our Climate Action Plan goals in their first year and are working to do more, do better and increase our momentum every day," said Paul Snyder, executive vice president, Stewardship, TCCA. "We will be the first to say that we don't have all of the answers and we have a lot more work to do, but we do have a dedication to continuous improvement, a challenger mindset, and a commitment to help protect and preserve our ecosystems now and for future generations."
While the work is ongoing, the 114-year-old dairy cooperative stated it has made intentional and incremental progress toward reducing its impact with various projects:
Truck Fleet Conversion – TCCA converted its 16-truck fleet to a new fuel called renewable diesel (R99) in late summer 2022. As a result, it reduced their total fleet emissions by over 20% from 2021 to 2022. Moving forward, it will reduce fuel emissions by 66% per gallon, when compared to conventional diesel.
Food Waste Diversion – TCCA started diverting all loose and packaged cheese scraps at its Boardman cheese-making facility to a food waste processor that uses the cheese for animal feed and compost. More than 955,000 pounds of cheese scraps were diverted from its Boardman facility last year, increasing the diversion rate from 15% to more than 60% at the site. In turn, the diversion also reduced the Boardman's facility landfill-based emissions by over 30%.
Soil Carbon Benchmarking – Half of all TCCA member farms opted into a new benchmarking program to measure the amount of carbon stored in their farmland. Partnering with an expert soil sampling company, TCCA measured its total carbon storage and found the average carbon in the soil among participating member farms to be 53 metric tons/acre – representing some of the highest carbon storage among all land use across the United States and Mexico. By establishing a soil carbon baseline, TCCA is increasing the quality and accuracy of GHG measurement, allowing the co-op to accurately track progress toward its goals.
- GHG Measurement and Reduction – TCCA reports a 9% reduction of total GHG emissions compared to its 2020 baseline and continues to improve its data to get a clearer picture of emissions. To understand farm-specific practices and associated emissions, participating TCCA farmers took a voluntary survey to measure their specific GHG footprint. The Farmers Assuring Responsible Management Environmental Stewardship (FARM ES) survey is based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and evaluates the entire lifecycle of dairy production — including the number of cows, amount of electricity and fuel consumption, as well as feed production and manure management practices — to determine a farm's footprint.
Measuring Impact Through Rigorous Analysis
"We are intently focused on accuracy and improvements related to our emissions reduction metrics and how we measure progress over time," said Snyder. "For us, it is about making real-world impacts that actually benefit the environment; that is the progress that we truly care about."
While TCCA is pleased to see a 9% GHG emissions reductions from its baseline year of 2020, emissions went up slightly from 2021. Snyder further explains that while its year-over-year reporting appears to reflect a decline in performance from 2021-2022, it is mostly due to more robust, highly accurate analytics and the company is still on-track for their path to 2030.
"Our progress dashboard reflects a range of realities that include exceeding, meeting, and in some cases, falling short of our goal," said Snyder. "We're committed to transparency and will not hide the realities, and in fact, are motivated when we see room for improvements…which is what our Climate Action Plan journey is all about."
Embracing the Many Facets of Stewardship
In addition to its long-standing stewardship commitment to take care of the environment, TCCA is guided by additional stewardship commitments focused on helping to support the needs of farmers and healthful cows, improve the communities where it operates, and enrich the lives of its employees and their families. Additional stewardship updates from the past year include:
- Partnering with American Connection Corps (ACC) to raise awareness of affordable broadband in Tillamook County. Overall, the national ACC program, saw a 400% increase in enrollment in federal subsidy programs for broadband internet in remote areas.
- Achieving a 100% score on the NSF International farm evaluation that assesses the TCCA Farm Services Team and their process, communications, and recordkeeping protocols with TCCA farmer-owners and milk suppliers to ensure cows stay healthy and comfortable.
- Being honored with the Vendor of the Year award for Target's "Food & Beverage" category for TCCA's best-in-class partnership, specifically earning recognition for leading the dairy category, having superior inventory availability, and sustaining one of the highest scores for the TCCA digital marketing presence.
- TCCA instituted a new heritage holiday – a paid day off for employees to celebrate and participate in a day that is important to them and their heritage.
- Securing more than $200,000 in funds for the Tillamook community as part of a grant-writing workshop that TCCA sponsored for local nonprofits in Tillamook County.
"Since our founding in 1909, TCCA farmer-owners have built everything with a long-term outlook to ensure that farms and communities are here for generations to come," said Snyder. "That's why being good stewards of cows and farms, of people and products, of our communities and the environment, is central to everything we do."