The Environmental Defense Fund just published a new resource to make getting started on sustainability seem less daunting. Developed with input from a diversity of experts and stakeholders, including members of the dairy industry, Water Quality Guide for Dairy Sustainability in the Chesapeake Bay [PDF] provides dairy cooperatives and processors with tools and training to make measurable environmental and economic progress.
This guide explains the important steps that dairy processors and cooperatives can take to improve water quality, including:
- Determining a starting point.
- Identifying goals and desired outcomes.
- Developing or selecting a data collection platform or process for tracking progress.
- Developing an on-farm continuous improvement program for participating farmers and their advisers.
- Supporting farmer participation and rewarding results.
- Communicating results to customers, communities and other important stakeholders.
With the information and additional resources identified in the guide, cooperatives and processors can move forward on water quality regardless of their size, budget, or whether or not they have a dedicated sustainability expert on staff. Working with government programs and nonprofits identified in the guide, as well as connecting with trusted farmer advisers, are cost-effective options.
The dairy industry is vital to the Chesapeake Bay region’s economy, culture and environment. Proactively addressing water quality is vital for the near- and long-term wellbeing of the dairy industry, the communities that depend on the sector, and the quality of the region’s natural resources.
As pressures on the dairy industry mount, the recommendations in this guide will help dairies advance meaningful solutions to water quality challenges, realize economic value from sustainability and meet growing demand for corporate stewardship.