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Nestlé joins US Dairy Industry initiative to net zero carbon emissions by 2050

The Innovation Center for US Dairy has unveiled the Net Zero Initiative, an industry-wide effort that will help American dairy farms of all sizes and geographies implement new technologies and adopt economically viable practices. The Innovation Center also announced a key milestone on its journey toward carbon neutrality – an up to US$10 million commitment and a multi-year partnership with Nestlé to support the Net Zero Initiative and scale access to environmental practices and resources.

The Innovation Center for US Dairy has unveiled the Net Zero Initiative, an industry-wide effort that will help American dairy farms of all sizes and geographies implement new technologies and adopt economically viable practices. The Innovation Center also announced a key milestone on its journey toward carbon neutrality – an up to US$10 million commitment and a multi-year partnership with Nestlé to support the Net Zero Initiative and scale access to environmental practices and resources (photo courtesy US Dairy).

Initiated in 2008 by dairy farmers, the Innovation Center for US Dairy is a forum that brings together the dairy community to address the changing needs and expectations of consumers through a framework of shared best practices and accountability.

According to a statement, the Net Zero initiative is a critical component of US dairy’s environmental stewardship goals, endorsed by dairy industry leaders and farmers, to achieve carbon neutrality, optimized water usage, and improved water quality by 2050.

The US dairy community has been working together to provide the world with responsibly-produced, nutritious dairy foods. With the entire dairy community at the table – from farmers and cooperatives to processors, household brands, and retailers – we’re leveraging US 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.

The Innovation Center for US Dairy also announced a key milestone on its journey toward carbon neutrality – an up to US$10 million commitment and a multi-year partnership with Nestlé to support the Net Zero Initiative and scale access to environmental practices and resources on farms across the country.

Supporting and enabling farmers through the Net Zero Initiative has the potential to transform the dairy industry. 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 US dairy and our suppliers to contribute to an even more sustainable dairy supply chain, said Jim Wells, chief supply chain officer for Nestlé USA

2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals

The Innovation Center for US Dairy is built on a decades-long commitment to responsible dairy production in developing the 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals. Leveraging a rigorous, third-party reviewed materiality assessment, the industry prioritized the most pressing areas of environmental sustainability as the foundation for its goals:

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

In 2008, US 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 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States.

Thanks 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 footprint1.

Bringing Net Zero to Life

The Net Zero Initiative is a collaboration of dairy organizations and represents a critical pathway on U.S. dairy’s sustainability journey. 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 across farms of all sizes and geographies.

Through foundational science, on-farm pilots, and the 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.

As part of a fifth-generation dairy farming family, we pride ourselves on sustaining our land, caring for our animals, and preserving our business for the next generation. We want to be at the table, testing new practices and accessing innovative technology to go further, faster. Because in the end, we all want the same thing – a healthy planet for our families and our children, said Tara Vander Dussen, a New Mexico dairy farmer.

Nestlé is the first of what the 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 its brands, the company brings a wealth of knowledge and industry leadership to the table and an earnest commitment to supporting American dairy farmers in environmental advancements and technology adoption.

Dairy companies and farms in every single state are already contributing to the goals in individual ways and each year, a select number is recognized for their positive impact with the US Dairy Sustainability Award.

The dairy community will continue to demonstrate its progress in the environment, animal care, food safety/traceability, and community contributions through the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment.

As of October 2020, 27 dairy companies representing 70 percent of the nation’s milk production have voluntarily adopted the US Dairy Stewardship Commitment and contribute to dairy’s ability to track, aggregate, and report on progress.

We know a lot more is possible – proven science and evidence from dairy’s existing best practices tells us we can get to net zero. This is not only good for dairy farmers, but it’s also good for all businesses that serve dairy, the communities where we farm, and the millions of people who enjoy dairy every day, ended Mike Haddad.

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