Expert Insights

What Does Sustainable Dairy Mean?

What does the phrase “Sustainable Dairy” mean to you?

Dr. Erin Cortus of the University of Minnesota shares, in our latest webinar from VES-Artex Academy, the need for a common language when talking about the term of “Sustainable Dairy.” Dr. Cortus is using this as a standard to have cohesive conversations among people with common goals. The goal is to create a consensus understanding of agricultural sustainability and a farm’s energy use footprint.

According to Dr. Cortus, this “sustainability” is comprised of a multi-faceted definition. It’s an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will over the long term:

  • Satisfy the human demand for food.
  • Protect environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the economy depends.
  • Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls.
  • Sustain the economic viability of farm operations.
  • Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.

Now there needs to be the development of a standard vocabulary for communication. This effort will ultimately lead to a specific metric value that will help stakeholders meet a specific goal. This is critical if there is going to be a measurable and consistent gauge to help farmers move forward in the future of environment, resources and quality of life.

“Background literacy helps us ask meaningful questions when we are presented with various numbers and data.” Dr. Erin Cortus

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