Dairy Industry’s Carbon Footprint Being Reduced by University of Arkansas Researchers

The U.S. dairy industry is getting help from researchers at the University of Arkansas to reduce its carbon footprint after the dairy industry set a goal of a 25% gas emission reduction by 2020. The researchers are giving a “cradle-to-grave” life cycle analysis of milk, which will give the producers, processors, and other in the dairy supply chain the necessary guidance needed to reduce their environmental impact and maintain long-term viability. The team looked at all stages of milk production, from the fertilizer used to grow the animal’s feed to even waste disposal of packaging after consumer use. This led them to discover that for every kilogram of milk consumed in the U.S. per year, 2.05 kg of greenhouse gases, on average, are emitted over the entire supply chain to produce, process and distribute that dairy. Many areas of impact reduction were found within the industry, including feed and milk production, processing and distribution, retail and the supply chain. Their focus was on farms, where processes for feed production, handling of enteric methane and manure management varied greatly and thus represent the best opportunities for making significant reductions. Thanks to these efforts from the University of Arkansas research team and the dairy industry, the industry carbon footprint should decline.

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