The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® announced the winners of the fourth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards on May 7, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The program recognizes outstanding dairy farms, businesses and partnerships for practices large and small that not only focus on the environment, but add up to promote the health and well-being of consumers, communities, cows, employees, the planet and business.
The winners were selected based on results as measured by economic, environmental and community impact, also known as triple-bottom-line success. An independent panel of judges — which included experts working with and through the dairy industry — also assessed the potential for adoption by others, demonstrated learning, innovation, improvement and scalability.
The 2015 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards winners are:
Outstanding Achievement in Resource Stewardship
Freund’s Farm, East Canaan, Connecticut — Freund’s Farm has created a successful side business selling CowPots®, biodegradable gardening containers made of composted manure from their herd of 275 dairy cows. Through CowPots, they are reducing phosphorus buildup in their soil, employing 11 full-time and 15 seasonal personnel, and investing $2 million back into the local community. Their commitment does not end there. The farm’s solar panel system produces 100 percent of its electricity needs.
Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability
Dorrich Dairy, Glenwood, Minnesota — The Vold family dramatically reduced chemical insecticides to control flies — and reduced fly control costs by 85 percent — when they introduced wasp larvae. This is one part of an integrated pest management system and overall commitment to cow health that contributes to making their operation financially strong and environmentally sound, now and for future generations.
Nobis Dairy Farms, St. Johns, Michigan — The Nobis brothers take pride in their practical approach to sustainable practices on their farm. For example, when they transitioned to sand bedding for cow comfort and health in 1974, they had to figure out how to clean and separate the sand from manure. Today, the system they have in place, thanks to research from Michigan State University and McLanahan Corporation, not only solves the problem of sand-laden manure, but it also maximizes nutrient management and eliminates excessive use of fresh water.
Oregon Dairy Farm, Lititz, Pennsylvania — In a sustainability meets farm-to-fork experience, the Hurst family composts food waste along with cow manure to produce a rich source of nutrients sold to gardeners; runs solar panels on their grocery store roof to provide 10 percent of the store’s electricity needs; and operates an anaerobic digester that helps capture methane gas from manure to make electricity and heat for hot water.
Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability
Hilmar Cheese Company, Hilmar, California — Though Hilmar Cheese Company makes about 2 million pounds of cheese each day, the company is able to recover almost 100 percent of water from incoming milk. Then, the water is treated at the plant and used up to three times for processes such as crop irrigation and landscaping. Water reclamation is just one part of a comprehensive sustainability effort. Hilmar Cheese Company’s new headquarters and innovation center was the first dairy building in the nation to receive LEED® Platinum certification.
Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnerships
HP Hood LLC and CleanWorld, Sacramento, California — HP Hood LLC and CleanWorld found a way to collect and combine HP Hood’s 35 tons per week of waste with food waste from dozens of local restaurants and retailers in a nearby biodigester. The biodigester converts the waste into valuable products for their urban and agricultural neighbors. These products include renewable fuel to power public and private fleets of trucks, rich liquid fertilizer for nearby farms, and power for the digester and local waste management facilities.