The work of the National Dairy Council (NDC) is grounded in one core mission: bringing to life the dairy community’s shared vision of a healthy, happy, sustainable world for now and for generations to come. It’s inspiring, and though it may sound lofty, it is attainable. The work the U.S. dairy community is doing is very real, and it’s all rooted firmly in science. That’s why we have made specific, forward-looking contributions and commitments to nourishing our people, communities and the planet.
First, let’s take a look at sustainability in the context of the food systems in which dairy plays an important role. NDC has long maintained that sustainable food systems encompass four, intersecting domains: health, environmental, economic and social. Dairy is fully integrated across the four domains and makes significant contributions to each.
The global dairy community has a particularly vital role to play in the realm of health and nutrition: dairy foods and ingredients help nourish people and support global food security. They’re accessible and delicious, closely woven into the social domain as people around the world enjoy dairy as part of culturally diverse dietary patterns. Dairy farming and processing not only bring these essential dairy foods to the table, but they empower prosperous and fulfilling lives, strengthening communities and supporting livelihoods.
Of course, the actions of every individual, organization and community on the planet impact the environmental domain, and the dairy community is no exception. U.S. dairy has made ongoing and ambitious commitments to environmental stewardship. All efforts align with and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The global dairy community makes positive contributions across all four domains, working to alleviate hunger, build community vitality, conserve natural resources and more. Here are four of the “game-changers” NDC is spearheading here in the U.S. These game-changers have been shared with fellow participants in the UN Food Systems Summit as examples of actions that can change the ways in which food systems operate.
- The FARM™ Initiative: Through the Farmers Assuring Response Management Initiative (FARM), U.S. dairy farmers commit to high-quality, on-farm management practices for safe, sustainable dairy production. These practices cover five key areas: animal care, antibiotic stewardship, biosecurity, environmental stewardship and workforce development.
- Food Security Initiative: During COVID-19, the U.S. dairy community pivoted to use longstanding partnerships to rapidly connect with schools and food banks to provide nutrient-rich dairy foods to students, families and communities. This initiative can be replicated and scaled up in a post-pandemic society to address food insecurity and increase access to nutritious foods.
- Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy: The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is a voluntary organization that brings together leaders from across the dairy value chain to drive progress. The Innovation Center focuses on sustainable nutrition, animal care, environmental stewardship, food safety, and people and community.
- Net Zero Initiative: The Net Zero Initiative is an effort to advance to net zero carbon emissions on U.S. dairy farms by making sustainable technologies more accessible and affordable. The Net Zero Initiative contributes to U.S. dairy’s 2050 environmental stewardship goals, set by the Innovation Center, which include achieving carbon neutrality, optimizing water usage and improving water quality.
While this offers a highlight of and the U.S. dairy community’s important and wide-reaching work across the four domains of sustainable food systems, know that we are always finding new ways to contribute. Through ongoing collaboration, commitment and innovation, we move ever closer to achieving that healthy, happy, sustainable world.