Farmer-Led Sustainability Initiative for the Dairy Industry

The Professional Dairy Producers recently launched a first of its kind farmer-led sustainability initiative for the dairy industry. The initiative is called “Your Farm – Your Footprint.” PDP board member J.J. Pagel talks about why the dairy industry needs a program like this.

“What I really like about ‘Your Farm-Your Footprint’ is it’s a proactive move to continue to position U.S. dairy as a preferred supplier of global dairy customers who hope to reduce carbon emissions and cut methane by one half by 2030. We have our customers – we’re talking about Nestle, Dannon, and Starbucks – those are ones you hear about, and they’ve been very upfront that they are looking to become more sustainable and cut their carbon footprint in half by 2030.”

He talks about how this effort is different from other initiatives aimed at lowering dairy’s environmental impact.

“What I really liked about this one is it’s a farmer-led initiative. It’s a group of dairy farmers that got together and created a pilot program to really get this sustainability conversation up and going. It’s not something that’s been forced on dairy farmers that we have to do this. This is something that farmers are leading the pack on taking this to the next level in bringing this to our processors and our customers, because we understand in order to compete in the global market, we need to have these things put in place and prove to the global market that we are the most sustainable U.S. dairy products in the world.”

The continual improvement plan includes practical recommendations for each specific farm’s data.

“We input a handful of data metrics and our nutrient management plan, what we’re doing as far as tillage, and then we get some numbers back, So, we’ll get our carbon footprint score back, and then they’ll put it into layman’s terms where you can look at it. For our farm, as an example, we save the equivalent emissions of about 686 passenger cars on any given day. When you look at how much soil was saved with erosion loss and how many emissions were sequestering there, it’s about 963 metric tons or the equivalent of 48 dump truck loads. So, it’s pretty neat that they put it into a very simple, understandable metric, so that when you talk to people about it, they can understand it.”

PDP is expanding the opportunity to dairy producers nationwide.

“We’d like to build on the success of a 2023 pilot and invite all dairy producers from all geographies all across the nation to participate in Your Farm – Your Footprint. What was really cool about ours is we had dairy farmers from 145 cows to 5,000 cows in our pilot, so there’s a little bit of everything for everybody to collaborate. Also, it’s confidential. Your score is yours to do what you need to with it. So, if you’re interested in taking part in Your Farm – Your Footprint, please visit the Professional Dairy Producers website at and look for the Your Farm – Your Footprint button.”