Sustainability & Stewardship


The U.S. dairy industry takes pride in the way its rich heritage of land stewardship and long-term commitment to sustainable dairy farming strengthens the industry's economic, environmental and social contributions. The dairy cow plays a key role in an environmentally-responsible, sustainable U.S. food system that serves the needs of current and future generations. A wide range of wholesome U.S. dairy products and ingredients start with the nutritious milk dairy cows produce.

Few foods deliver dairy's powerhouse of nutrients and health benefits in such an affordable, delicious and readily-available way. One cow, on average, produces 144 servings (U.S.) of milk per day. Each serving delivers calcium, vitamin D, potassium, protein and additional key nutrients essential for human health.

Dairy farm sustainability efforts get help from a cow's powerful four-stomach digestive system: 75% of a cow's diet is not digestible by humans. Cow nutrition plans not only boost milk production, but also create value from manufacturing by-products that would otherwise become landfill waste. U.S. dairy cow feed plans incorporate items such as citrus pulp from food and beverage processors and cottonseed from the fiber industry; the cows use the nutrition to produce milk.

Another sustainable by-product of U.S. dairy farms is cow manure, a natural fertilizer that also converts into a renewable energy source. Nutrient-rich cow manure fertilizes croplands to improve growth yields of crops for people and animals alike. One cow produces 64 liters (17 gallons) of manure per day. That's enough fertilizer to grow 25 kilograms (56 pounds) of corn or 38 kilograms (84 pounds) of tomatoes.

The U.S. dairy industry takes sustainability one step further to create additional value from manure. Anaerobic digester systems convert manure and commercial food waste into electricity, fuel for cars and trucks, fiber and, of course, fertilizer. The result translates into combined revenues and cost savings of US$200 per cow per year.

The ultimate goal of the U.S. dairy industry's sustainability efforts is simple: Healthy People. Healthy Planet. Healthy Communities. For more on how one cow contributes to a sustainable food system, visit the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy website.

For more about U.S. dairy farms, click here.