Dairy Farming and Sustainability

I think it’s safe to say we’re all aware of how important it is to preserve the environment. You guys are smart, and you know what’s up. What if I told you that our very own Michigan dairy farm families are on the front lines trying to protect our planet? It’s true. All the nutritiously delicious dairy foods like milk, yogurt and CHEESE (love that) are produced sustainably.


Wanna know the facts to back that up? Today, producing a gallon of milk requires 65% less water, 90% less land and 76% less manure than 70 years ago! This means that the carbon footprint of milk is 63% smaller than in 1944.

Another fun fact: U.S. dairy farms contribute just 2% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.  And, unlike fossil fuels, which release new carbon into the atmosphere, cows recycle carbon! How on earth does that work? Basically, the CO2 in the atmosphere is converted by plants into carbohydrates, the cows digest the plants, producing milk, manure and methane. The milk nourishes us, the manure nourishes the soil and the methane converts to CO2, starting the cycle all over.

It’s CRAZY to think how much the dairy community helps the planet stay green, and continues to every day, when working together to ensure farmland, animals, and people are nourished.


We use it every day! Michigan’s dairy farmers continue to improve their overall water efficiency and on-farm water recycling.  The U.S. dairy industry has decreased its water footprint by more than 65 percent over the past several decades. What does that mean? Our Great Lakes and waterways are more protected now than they ever have been! Click here to learn more on how farmers are reusing water!


Upcycling – Upcycling is as fancy word to describe how dairy cows convert feed into nutrient-rich dairy foods. Michigan’s dairy farmers are innovative recyclers! They feed cows leftovers that would otherwise be sent to a landfill. Do you wear cotton clothing? Farmers sometimes feed cows the left-over cotton seeds which helps provide them with the nutrients they need to make delicious milk! Click here to learn more about what cows eat.

Manure/Nutrient Management – Dairy cow manure is a natural fertilizer that returns nutrients back to the soil to grow future feed for the cows, which means fewer synthetic fertilizers. Yay! The water in the waste is cleaned and reused on other parts of the farm.

Animal Care

The care of dairy cows is an important part of successful dairy farming because healthy cows = happy cows! Dairy farmers take excellent care of their cows, providing their animals clean and comfortable housing, 24/7 access to fresh food and water and medical attention when necessary.

Nutrient-rich products

Dairy is sustainably nutritious and undeniably delicious! Dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt help nourish people, providing several nutrients like protein, calcium and vitamin D. Click here to read how dairy provides important nutrition to a plant-forward diet.

Strong Communities

Did you know most of the fresh, wholesome milk you buy in Michigan comes from Michigan? When you reach for nutrient-rich milk at your local grocery store, you are supporting the economy in your community. Click here to read more about how milk is local. Dairy farming contributes to over $15B to the Michigan economy, and a lot of jobs! On top of that, dairy farm families help serve seven major food bank systems throughout the state. Let’s do our part and grab gallon of milk next time we’re at our local grocery stores.

More Information on Dairy Farming and Sustainability