Milk is deliciously white in colour, but the dairy industry is getting a whole lot greener thanks to its continued commitment to environmental sustainability. According to Dairy Farmers of Canada, the majority of dairy farms have an environmental farm plan, with which they develop an action plan to improve specific environmental conditions on the farm. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions from Canadian dairy farms have consistently been decreasing over the past two decades, while meeting the continued demand for nutritious Canadian dairy products. All this progress is happening while still meeting the demand for high quality dairy products.
“Farmers by nature are environmentally-conscious, because we’re stewards of the land,” says Becky Perry, who operates a dairy farm with her husband, whose family has been running the farm for six generations. “We take care of the environment, so it can provide nourishment for our communities.”
The Perrys constructed a free-stall barn, which provides more comfort for the cows by allowing them to move freely in the barn. And they’re also set to introduce robotic technology, so they can produce more milk with fewer cows. This will ensure financial and environmental sustainability, both of which are closely linked.
“All our tractors operate with reduced emissions and we’re able to cut down our water use, by reusing water for different parts of our operation,” says Becky. “We also utilize a sustainable forage system, which results in minimum tillage, leading to fewer emissions and less impact on the land.”
On their own, Canadian dairy farmers started the proAction® initiative, which includes six modules designed to ensure milk quality and safety, continually improve animal health and welfare, and encourage environmental stewardship.
“We have an environmental farm plan, which along with the proAction® program, is audited by a third party to ensure compliance with the standards,” says Becky. “We’re always open to new ideas and approaches to make our farms even more environmentally sustainable.”