Dairy organizations respond to new FAO GHG report

Statement from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

Today, the FAO released its report, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Dairy Sector — A Life Cycle Assessment.” It states that approximately 4.1% of total global GHG emissions are related to the global dairy sector. This figure includes emissions associated with milk production, processing and transportation as well as the emissions from meat production from dairy-related culled and fattened animals.

Considering just global milk production, processing and transportation and excluding meat production, the global dairy sector contributes 2.7% of global GHG emissions, according to the new report.

This new data cited for the global dairy sector is good news for dairy because it is significantly less than the 18% figure cited for global livestock agriculture in the November, 2006 FAO report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow – Environmental Issues and Options.” The 18% number has often been inaccurately attributed to dairy GHG emissions.

In the United States, work is underway through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy to build a foundation of credible data to help tell consumers about the long-standing commitment of dairy farmers — and the entire industry — to the environment. The Innovation Center has been working with the University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center and other experts to determine GHG emissions for U.S. dairy, beginning with a comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA) for fluid milk. Based on preliminary research the U.S. dairy industry shared with FAO, the University of Arkansas attributes an estimated 2 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions to U.S. dairy.

This is important, because research shows that consumers want to know the producers of the products they buy care about the environment. It further indicates that, when consumers believe that dairy is not only nutritious, delicious and delivered at a good value, but is also environmentally friendly, they intend to purchase more dairy.

The Innovation Center’s research and commitment to continue working voluntarily to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the entire U.S. dairy supply chain provide the support we need to tell dairy’s good story.

Regarding the timing of the Innovation Center’s LCA report:

In support of the industry’s commitment to sustainability, the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas is completing a greenhouse gas (GHG) life cycle assessment (LCA) of fluid milk for the U.S. dairy industry.

This LCA is already being recognized as an important contribution to LCA science.

·         The U.S. dairy industry LCA is following ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards, which are widely supported by environmental scientists.

·         The critical review has been conducted by leading experts in LCA science from the University of Michigan, the University of Iowa, and Sylvatica, an LCA research and consulting firm.

·         Abstracts have been accepted for presentation at the 7th International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment in the Agri-Food Sector (September 22-24, 2010 in Italy).

·         A series of articles based on the detailed findings of the life cycle assessment will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals in 2010, with publication expected in 2011.

This LCA measures the GHG emissions of fluid milk from farm to table, which includes everything from what is fed to cows through how a consumer disposes of a milk container. This comprehensive effort gathered data from more than 500 farms and 50 processing plants across the United States, while analyzing 150,000 round trips transporting milk from farm to processor.

When completed, the LCA will provide the industry with a scientific baseline of the carbon footprint of fluid milk in each part of the supply chain so that we can continue to improve the business value of our industry, reduce GHG emissions, and provide products that are healthy for people and the planet.

The data will serve as the foundation for the creation of best practices and decision-support tools for farmers, processors, and others throughout the dairy supply chain.

Additional resources:

·         The FAO news release and report can be found at fao.org or click here: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/41348/icode/

·         The International Dairy Federation has additional information and a news release about the FAO report at http://www.dairy-sustainability-initiative.org/Public/ColumnsPage.php?ID=29

·         For more information on the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s Sustainability Commitment, go to www.usdairy.com/sustainability. Or contact innovationcenter@usdairy.com

Statement from International Dairy Federation

The International Dairy Federation (IDF) welcomes the new FAO report on “Greenhouse gas emissions from the dairy sector” as a significant step to quantify the GHG emissions from the dairy sector and provide an informed basis to target emissions mitigation within the supply chain.

“For the first time, FAO reveals that the environmental impact of the dairy sector accounts for 2.7%. This figure includes emissions related to milk production, processing and transport. This study is a fundamental part of the process of understanding and continually minimizing the environmental impacts of the dairy sector as we have committed to do in the Global Dairy Agenda for Action signed by IDF and other partner organizations.” explained Richard Doyle, IDF president. The FAO findings also indicate significant variations among the different regions and climate patterns of the world.

In the recent years, IDF has been particularly active in placing environmental considerations at the top of its priorities. Further to a strategic plan on environment in 2008, IDF identified the need to undertake a report of this nature and has encouraged FAO to do so. “The global dairy sector and its partners are implementing a global Agenda for Action in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the supply chain. Our sector is responsibly focused on providing consumers with the nutritious dairy products they want, in a way that is economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible.” stressed Richard Doyle.

The dairy sector has already implemented a significant number of initiatives to mitigate GHG emissions. A Green Paper captures specific actions implemented in a number of key areas to address the environmental impact on climate change. It is an online catalogue of initiatives and improvements already made and those in progress as compelling evidence of the dairy sector’s commitment. With more than 270 case studies, the IDF Dairy Sustainability Website is a transparent portal that shares best practices and actions taken by the global dairy sector to improve the overall performance of the dairy sector.

This interim FAO assessment provides us with a robust benchmark for our future targeted actions. It will help to identify the key areas of impact and work out practical and cost-effective adaptation options to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from the dairy sector. “We will use this study as a significant contribution to existing knowledge and a strong incentive to achieve the objectives set out. We look forward to the wider study carried out by FAO and aiming at identifying low carbon development pathways for the livestock dairy sector. It is instrumental for IDF to continue to work with FAO and with the stakeholders of the dairy chain to move concerted global action programs forward. “ added Christian Robert, IDF Director General.

Another important milestone will be the ongoing IDF work on Life Cycle Analysis / Life Cycle Management and Carbon Footprint in the Dairy Sector. The objective is to develop a common LCA standard methodology for carbon footprint as a consensus paper of the world dairy sector. This work is expected to be released in the coming months.

• IDF has a dedicated website on sustainability which aims at sharing best practices, promoting environmentally focused initiatives and improving overall performance of the dairy sector. It is a transparent portal to action to contribute to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. More information at www.dairy‐sustainability‐initiative.org

• Further information on these publications is available on the IDF website at www.fil-idf.org

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