On April 24, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will seek to reduce the industry's greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. The document extends a 2009 agreement to save energy and accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects and energy efficiency improvements on U.S. dairy farms.The MOU is intended to last for three years.
"Through this renewed commitment, USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will continue research that helps dairy farmers improve the sustainability of their operations," said Vilsack in a statement.
"This vital research also will support the dairy industry as it works to reach its long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020."
Since the 2009 signing, the USDA has awarded nearly 180 grants and loans to finance anaerobic digester systems, and approximately 140 to help dairy farmers develop other types of renewable energy.
Also, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has provided $257 million in funding since 2009 that has helped more than 6,000 dairy farmers plan and implement conservation practices to improve sustainability.
NRCS support for the dairy industry has resulted in 354 on-farm and in-plant energy audits as well as 18 conservation innovation grants for dairy-related projects during the past three years.
"We are all interested in sustainable agriculture and producing good food responsibly, while bolstering an important rural economy, and this new MOU lays out the roadmap for more improvements," said Innovation Center CEO Thomas Gallagher.
"That's good for dairy, good for the economy and good for consumers." PD
—From USDA news release