Earth Day may be celebrated each year in late April, but for Oregon dairy farmers every day is Earth Day on the farm.
Most dairy farm families live and work where they farm. Each day they walk out their back door to take good care of their animals and land. It’s a responsibility they take seriously, and they’re proud of the work they do to bring nutritious food to our tables in a sustainable way.
Dairy farming has become advanced and innovative in Oregon and across the country. For example, between 1944 and 2007, the dairy industry used 90 percent less land, consumed 63 percent less water and emitted 63 percent less carbon while quadrupling the milk supply. Today, the dairy industry is responsible for less than two percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
The dairy industry is also great at recycling. Almost 20 percent of everything dairy cows eat is an agricultural byproduct inedible by humans. One major byproduct of milking cows – manure – is a valuable resource. Farmers use manure as a natural fertilizer on their crops, and some farms use methane digesters to recycle manure into clean, renewable electricity. Several farms generate solar power, and reusing water many times over is standard practice on today’s dairy farms.
Sustainable diets with low environmental impacts contribute to food and nutrition security and to a healthy life for present and future generations. Dairy provides substantial nutritional value in a single affordable package, has continually reduced its environmental footprint, and has committed to additional improvements industry-wide.
So whether you’re enjoying dairy foods on Earth Day or any day, you can feel good about how they’re made.