Livestock News

U.S. dairy industry pushes toward carbon neutrality by 2050


The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy unveiled its Net Zero Initiative, an industry-wide effort that will help U.S. dairy farms of all sizes and geographies implement new technologies and adopt economically viable practices, with the goal of being carbon neutral or better by 2050. The initiative is also part of U.S. dairy’s environmental stewardship goals to optimize water usage and improve water quality through manure management.

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy also announced a key milestone: an up to $10 million commitment and multi-year partnership with Nestlé to support the Net Zero Initiative.

“Supporting and enabling farmers through the Net Zero Initiative has the potential to transform the dairy industry,” said Jim Wells, chief supply chain officer for Nestlé USA. “Scaling up climate-smart agricultural initiatives is key to Nestlé’s ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and will help reduce the carbon footprint of many of our brands. We are excited to collaborate with U.S. dairy and our suppliers to contribute to an even more sustainable dairy supply chain.”

In 2008, U.S. dairy was the first agricultural sector to commission a life cycle assessment on fluid milk, which showed that dairy accounts for 2 percent of total GHG emissions in the U.S. Furthermore, due to innovative practices in cow health, improved feed and genetics, and modern management practices, the environmental impact of producing a gallon of milk in 2017 has shrunk significantly from 2007, requiring 30 percent less water, 21 percent less land, and a 19 percent smaller carbon footprint.

“With the entire dairy community at the table — from farmers and cooperatives to processors, household brands and retailers — we’re leveraging U.S. dairy’s innovation, diversity and scale to drive continued environmental progress and create a more sustainable planet for future generations,” said Mike Haddad, chairman, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. 

Formally, the U.S. dairy industry’s 2050 environmental stewardship goals are:

  • Become carbon neutral or better;
  • Optimize water use while maximizing recycling;
  • Improve water quality by optimizing utilization of manure and nutrients.

Many of the practices and technologies needed to reach the industry’s goals largely exist but require further research and development and overall greater accessibility. Through foundational science, on-farm pilots and development of new product markets, the Net Zero Initiative aims to knock down barriers and create incentives for farmers that will lead to economic viability and positive environmental impact.

Nestlé is the first of what the U.S. dairy community hopes will be many partners joining the Net Zero Initiative, contributing funding and expertise to help propel the entire industry’s progress toward a more sustainable future. With brands like Carnation, Stouffer’s, and DiGiorno, Nestlé helps to bring knowledge and industry leadership to the table.

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