Award winners represent the U.S. dairy community’s voluntary efforts toward continuous improvement in sustainability. “This year’s winners demonstrated impressive leadership and creativity in the application of technology and other practices that protect our land, air and water. And they’re proactive about building strong relationships with their communities and employees,” said Barbara O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “Based on this year’s nominations, it’s clear that all sizes of dairy farms and companies use sustainable practices because it’s good for the environment, good for their community and good for business.”
Judges evaluated nominations based on their economic, environmental and community impact. The independent judging panel — including experts working with and throughout the dairy community — also considered learning, innovation, scalability and replicability.
Through creative problem solving, this year’s winners addressed water quality, soil fertility, community outreach, energy efficiency and more.For the category of Resource Stewardship the Keller family of Kellercrest Registered Holsteins participated in the Pleasant Valley Watershed Project, a collaboration among state, local and national agencies to reduce the local watershed’s phosphorous load. Results were dramatic and positive. In fact, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is expected to propose removing the Pleasant Valley Branch from the EPA’s list of sediment-impaired streams. Other farms that participated in the project saw economic benefits too, and this spurred them to form a group to build on the learnings. The Kellers, whose family farmed the hills of Mount Horeb since the late 1840s, saw cost savings as well as environmental benefits.
One of three winners for Dairy Farm Sustainability, the Kinnard family milks more than 7,000 cows—a scale that allows them to maximize water, soil and cow comfort while supporting their rural community. They retain the area’s young, college-educated residents by employing them to innovate farm technology. The Kinnards are often on the cutting edge; they made a first-of-its-kind sand recycling center—one that uses no freshwater in the process—to separate, wash and dry sand for repeated use. Sand is this farm’s preferred bedding material because it provides comfort and sure footing for cows and is bacteria-free, keeping udders healthy.
"These two Wisconsin farms are shining examples of the dedication our farmers have to preserving and improving the environment today and for future generations," said Patrick Geoghegan, senior vice president corporate communications for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. "By actively seeking ways to improve land management and water quality, these farmers are ensuring a bright future for their businesses and serve as resources for other farmers researching new areas of environmental care."
“These award-winning practices can serve as models for other farmers, too,” said Jason Bateman, dairy farmer, 2016 award winner and one of this year’s judges. “Winners made breakthroughs, and they improved everyday practices. It’s inspiring to see people collaborate with partners outside of dairy and build on ideas from other industries.”
About the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment
The U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards program is supported by generous sponsors. This year’s sponsors are: DeLaval, Elanco, Syngenta and World Wildlife Fund.
The 2016 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report is the sixth progress report published by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy to update stakeholders on the progress of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment, an industrywide effort to measure and improve the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the dairy community.
To learn more, visit USDairy.com/Sustainability.
Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® is a forum for the dairy industry to work together pre-competitively to address barriers and opportunities to foster innovation and increase sales. The Innovation Center aligns the collective resources of the industry to offer consumers nutritious dairy products and ingredients, and promote the health of people, communities, the planet and the industry. The Board of Directors for the Innovation Center includes dairy industry leaders representing key farmer organizations, dairy cooperatives, companies, manufacturers and brands. The Innovation Center is staffed by Dairy Management Inc™. Visit USDairy.com for more information about the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board is a nonprofit organization of Wisconsin dairy producers that promotes the consumption of milk, cheese and other dairy products made in America’s Dairyland.