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Agriculture, Sustainability

Common Consumer Questions about Food and Ag Answered by RDN Farmers– PART TWO

As the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation (ANDF) Chair, I am excited to bring you the second post in this four part series written by guest blogger, Chris Vogliano, MS, RD, LD. He is the agriculture nutrition and health research fellow with ANDF and the lead author of the article Plentiful, Nutrient-Dense Food for the World: A Guide for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs). In this series, Chris brings you RDN farmer experts who address some common questions consumers want to know about food and agriculture.  Happy learning!

NDC Dairy Hub Cow pic 2015

Jersey Cows–National Dairy Council (c) 2015


Welcome to part two of this series where RDN farmers answer four questions that have been commonly asked by consumers about food and agriculture. These responses were provided at a previous FNCE symposium and featured in a recent Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics article.

Dairy farmers are committed to caring for their cows and the environment. Fellow RDN and farmer Abigail Copenhaver, RDN, CDN offers her insights to “What influence do dairy cows have on the environment?” Ideas also provided to assist nutrition professionals with ways to further their knowledge and engagement in this area.


“There are approximately 9.2 million dairy cows in the United States producing 201 billion pounds of milk each year. Dairy farmers work to ensure that their cows are as healthy as possible. The cows’ housing, nutrition, water access, and physical health are closely monitored. It is common for veterinarian nutritionists and environmental consultants to be part of the team engaged in monitoring dairy cow health.

Dairy farmers use sustainable practices when caring for their land, such as rotating crops and partnering with neighboring farms to share resources. The production of dairy products in the United States contributes only about 2% of the total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The U.S. Dairy Innovation Center’s Sustainability Council has committed to help dairy farmers improve the sustainability of their operations even more by reducing dairy’s GHG emissions by 25% by 2020. Technology can be used to convert manure into fertilizer for crops and electricity for farms and communities. Other best practices include creating efficiencies in fuel and electricity use, water management, conservation, recycling, and wastewater treatment techniques.”

Two Holstein Cows in a Pasture

Holstein Cows–National Dairy Council (c) 2015

How can RDNs apply this information?

“RDNs and other nutrition and dietetics practitioners can organize continuing professional education meetings with their district and/or affiliate dietetic associations, local farmers, veterinarians, and extension specialists to increase understanding about how animals intended for human consumption are raised and fed affects the environment and how regulations influence the livestock industry. Hosting journal club discussions about the latest research, evaluation methods, and innovations in sustainable agriculture and sharing information through presentations, blogs, and social media are other ways RDNs can engage in connecting agriculture to nutrition and health.”

National Dairy Council (c) 2015

National Dairy Council (c) 2015

Be sure to check back for part three in this series. Dayna Green-Burgeson, RD, CDE will address “How Can I Reduce the Environmental Impact of My Diet?”

Missed part one? See how Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN answers the question “Is Grass-fed Beef Better than Grain-fed Beef?”

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