The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy last week announced the winners of the third annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards, created to recognize dairy farms, businesses and collaborative partnerships that are committed to stewardship and sustainability.
The winners were selected based on results as measured by economic, environmental and community impact.
An independent panel of judges — which included experts from academic institutions, government, dairy science organizations, nongovernmental organizations and media, as well as environmental and dairy industry leaders — also assessed the potential for adoption by others, demonstrated learning, innovation, improvement and scalability.
"As farmers, we feel a strong sense of responsibility to our communities, the land and our animals, and we want to pass along a strong business to the next generation," said Paul Rovey, chair of Dairy Management Inc.
"We are always looking at how others innovate and implement better practices. By sharing the winners' stories, we can all learn and improve."
Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability
Maddox Dairy, Riverdale, Calif.: The pioneer spirit of the Maddox family has led to opened doors for the dairy industry. The total mixed ration feeding method, the use of drive-through freestall barns and galvanized self-locking stations — standards in today's industry — are techniques trailblazed by Maddox Dairy.
Recent projects have resulted in reduced costs, lower environmental impact, and healthier, more productive livestock for the dairy; and cleaner air and energy for the surrounding community.
McCarty Family Farms, Rexford, Kan.: In its quest to conserve water, McCarty Family Farms partnered with Dannon to construct a condensed milk processing plant that extracts more than 14 million gallons of water from milk each year.
The water can be used for animal and crop care. McCarty Family Farms also is working to create sustainable communities, bringing more than 100 new jobs to the area.
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Sensenig Dairy, Kirkwood, Penn.: In order to ensure their farm would be viable for the next generation, Cliff and Andrea Sensenig implemented a methane digester.
Three years of planning and collaboration with consultants and neighbors led to a digester that now processes manure from 200 dairy animals, 2,000 hogs and 30,000 chickens from neighboring farms, along with local food waste. Each year the digester reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to removing 206 cars from the road.
Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability
Joseph Gallo Farms, Atwater, Calif.: Sustainability is simply a new word for an age-old concept at Joseph Gallo Farms, where energy-efficient equipment and cutting-edge technology in its cheese plant help to conserve energy and at least 2.9 billion gallons of water each year, in addition to accepting as much as 10 million gallons of stormwater and wastewater each day from local communities to use for irrigation.
Outstanding Achievement in Energy Efficiency
Marshik Dairy, Pierz, Minn.: In 2010, this fifth-generation 155-cow family farm implemented a new, technologically advanced and energy efficient barn that included robotic milking facilities, energy efficient lighting and ventilation, and renewable wind and solar power.
Robotics automation increased cow comfort, and improved their lifestyle and that of future generations on the farm.
Outstanding Achievement in Renewable Energy
Vander Haak Dairy, Lynden, Wash.: An unprecedented collaboration between Vander Haak Dairy, Washington State University and Andgar Corporation built Washington's first dairy digester as a test bed for technology development and monitoring. Vander Haak explored the potential of adding food waste to the digester.
Now, in addition to creating renewable energy and additional revenue streams for his farm, Vander Haak is helping food processors repurpose their waste to help grow more food.
The U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment and the Sustainability Awards program are supported by gold- and silver-level sponsors: Center for Advanced Energy Studies, DeLaval, DVO Anaerobic Digesters, Elanco Animal Health, HDR, InSinkErator, Tetra Pak Inc., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, World Wildlife Fund and Zoetis. Silver-level sponsors include Dolphin WaterCare, Organic Solution Management, Skip Shapiro Enterprises, LLC and Syngenta.