**This is Part 2 of my blog series on the US Dairy Sustainability Forum. This blog will cover the Sustainability Awards Ceremony. Part 1 os here.**
This is my second time attending the US Dairy Sustainability Awards. The first time I attended this event was right after college, I remember being in awe of the amazing accomplishments of my fellow dairy farmers and the innovative ways they were working to improve their on-farm practices. This awards ceremony inspired me to want to help other farmers with their efforts. This year, I had the honor of serving as the Emcee for the award’s ceremony. And this year’s winners are doing incredible things on their farms and throughout their businesses. And I hope their stories will be an inspiration to all of us to continue to improve our on-farm practices. Their accomplishments are nothing short of inspirational. From dairy farms striving for net neutral emissions to partnerships between dairy farms, co-ops, and Fortune 500 companies.
It makes me so proud to be apart of this dairy community who care deeply for the future of our farms, land, and water. And that takes the time to recognize the achievements of dairy farmers working on their environmental stewardship. Because contrary to what you might read on the internet or hear from our representatives, US dairy farmers are leading the way in sustainable agriculture across the globe. We are the industry to watch!
Dairy Farmers and Sustainability
One of my favorite stories from the winners was the Outstanding Community Impact award. Gleaners Community Food Bank teamed up with the local dairy community to raise funds and plan the logistics to provide its clients with more nutritious milk. This story really hit home for me with young children. What makes more of an impact than helping the children in our communities get the nutrition they need to change their lives for the better. Also, not only was Gleaners being honored at the US Dairy Sustainability Award, but they were also named the Food Bank of the Year by Feeding America.
Another incredible winner was Philip Verway Farms from California. This dairy farmer installed a digester to produce power. And then adapted his feed mixing program to run on electricity powered from the digester instead of diesel. He was able to cut his GHG emissions by the equivalent of removing 7,800 cars from the road. This farm is reaching net neutral emissions!
More than Environmentally Sustainable
I want to congratulate the winners of these awards. And my hope is that their examples will be multiplied across our industry as we continue to change, adapt, learn and grow together so that we are sustainable for the coming generations both environmentally and economically. Being sustainable is about more than just being environmentally friendly, but also economically viable. For these winners, they made changes and improvements during some of the most economically challenging times in our industry. No one put a mandate on them or forced them by regulations. They did this because every farmer is thinking about the future and the next generation. Whether that’s our children or other future farmers. I commend these winners and their achievements.
New Mexico Milkmaid