Sustainability a focus for dairy farms

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DFA is made up of nearly 14,000 farmer member-owners who are committed to preserving resources and providing quality animal care every day. Our Cooperative is dedicated to finding new, innovative ways to conserve resources, reduce waste and work efficiently – on farms, in plants, for the industry and our global community as a whole. Read on for just a few examples of DFA and our members’ sustainability efforts at work.

On the farm
At Phillip Verwey Farms near Hanford, Calif., Phillip Verwey is making changes that improve efficiency and reduce his operation’s environmental impact. Due to the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District’s (SJAPCD) Technology Advancement Program, which supports innovative clean air technologies that reduce emissions in their region, Verwey made the switch to an electrified dairy feed mixing station. The dairy worked directly with the California Milk Producers Council, SJAPCD and Environmental Protection Agency to make this project a reality.

Feeding the farm’s 9,000 milking cows is a tough job, which was previously powered by a diesel-driven tractor. The $1.1 million conversion was designed to address air quality and emissions standards, while creating consistency in what each cow eats. The TMR electric mixing process has improved the quality of feed, which has had a positive impact on milk quality and production.

Projects like this have played a key role in meeting the emissions requirements for dairies in the area, which have declined by more than 30 percent. According to SJAPCD, Verwey’s switch to electric will annually cut carbon dioxide emissions by 648 tons and conserve more than 90,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

In addition to cutting down on air pollution, Verwey Farms is undergoing a project to develop an anaerobic digester system to further enhance the sustainable footprint of the dairy.

At the plant
From strict water and energy use at DFA’s Fallon, Nev., plant to Craigs Station Creamery being powered by a methane digester, sustainable practices are a critical piece to producing high-quality milk. All the way to the dairy case, DFA and its brands are committed to keeping the environment in mind.

Oakhurst Dairy, headquartered in Portland, Maine, is delivering superior products while reducing its carbon footprint at the same time. In 2006, Oakhurst became the first dairy company in the industry to convert its delivery fleet to biodiesel fuel — which has reduced its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 1,332 tons per year.

Beyond biodiesel, Oakhurst is invested in improving sustainable measures — from goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per quart of milk produced, to increasing aerodynamics and fuel usage with specialized truck skirts, to solar power. In 2008, Oakhurst installed one of the largest solar thermal energy systems in New England at their headquarters location.