Enteric methane is the biggest contributor to on-farm emissions in the U.S., yet it receives the least amount of federal funding to identify research-based solutions that can help dairy farmers reduce its impact.

In fact, less than 2% of funding from federal research and development agencies aimed at agricultural climate mitigation work goes toward enteric fermentation projects.

This is why the Greener Cattle Initiative is so critical to the dairy and beef industries.

The Greener Cattle Initiative was jointly created by the checkoff-founded Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR). Mitigation of enteric methane emissions has been a major focus of farmer-led voluntary efforts by the U.S. dairy sector to meet environmental stewardship goals announced by the Innovation Center.

The Greener Cattle Initiative’s goal is to bring together resources (including funding) to support collaborative research on enteric methane mitigation from ruminants, and the response across the dairy value chain since its launch in November of 2021 has been exceptional.

Some of the world’s most recognizable organizations from the food and agriculture industry, commodity groups, and non-profits have come to the table to extend the reach of farmers’ checkoff dollars, including ADM, Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB), Elanco, Genus PLC, National Dairy Herd Information Association (NDHIA), Nestlé, JBS USA, and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.

These organizations represent farmers’ voices and priorities and provide input from animal health, genetic, feed and nutrition research organizations, and other companies. Our collective work focuses on five key research areas:

  • dairy cow nutrition
  • rumen microbiome
  • dairy cow genetics
  • sensing and data technology
  • socioeconomic analysis

It’s clear how much of a desire there is to support the industry. We received an unprecedented amount of research proposals and are on track to award more than $5 million in grants to fund projects focused on reducing enteric methane.

A key moment for GCI happened last November when we showcased our work during the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) Roadshow at the 27th annual UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27).

I participated in a panel discussion hosted by FFAR Executive Director Saharah Moon Chapotin that included Jessica Langley from JBS and Lucas Huntimer from Elanco. Huntimer talked about Elanco’s goal of finding ways to reduce methane emissions while producing more protein to feed a growing population amid escalating food prices. “Some of the impetus of us joining the Greener Cattle Initiative was we really viewed this as a key stakeholder event to bring all the different parts of cattle production together and be able to learn and invest into new technologies and solutions throughout the entire chain,” he said.

You can check out the presentation here to get a sense for the excitement and potential we feel GCI holds for the dairy industry.

The desire for the dairy value chain to come together in a precompetitive spirit shows the true power of our industry. Funding and directing research are ways the checkoff makes the case for dairy sustainability and helps farmers be even better at their long-standing commitment to the planet and environmental stewardship.

To learn more about your national dairy checkoff, visit www.USDairy.com. To reach us directly, send an email to TalkToTheCheckoff@dairy.org.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2023
January 16, 2023
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