As environmental factors continue to shape the way dairy producers raise their animals, the International Dairy Federation has partnered with the Food and Agriculture Organization to measure and asses the environmental impacts of the dairy industry.
Measuring environmental impact has been difficult in the past due to the use of different methods of analyzing and collecting data. However, the IDF said this new partnership of governmental, private sector and non-governmental partners will strengthen environmental benchmarking of livestock supply chains.
Pierre Gerber, a Senior FAO livestock policy officer, said "The goal is to create more sustainable forms of production that will continue to provide food and income. To do that, we need reliable quantitative information on key environmental parameters along livestock supply chains, as an evidence base from which to drive improvements."
The International Dairy Federation has developed a website to address environmental concerns in dairy production, and has released a guide to lifecycle assessment methodology for the dairy sector to ensure unity among environmental research.
The guide, "A Common Carbon Footprint Approach for Dairy," said that inconsistencies in figures derived from varying methodologies are becoming a problem.
"[Inconsistencies] pose a very real danger of confusion and contradiction, which in turn could create a false impression that the industry is failing to actively engage with the issue of climate change," the report said.
"Creating consistency and a clear message is important for the reputation of the industry as a global whole, to highlight the high level of engagement that is already taking place in relation to this issue and to identify practices that will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions," the report concluded.
The guide examines an approach to address land use change, rectify ambiguity in key areas, recommend practical approaches that can be inserted into existing methodologies, and approaches that can be adopted equally in developed dairy industries throughout the world.
Richard Doyle, IDF president, said that the new collaboration with the FAO will allow stakeholders to set comparable benchmarks for measuring the carbon footprint of their dairy products. He said the initiative showcases what is being done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption, and conserve energy.
Additional members involved in the partnership include the governments of France, Ireland, the Netherlands and New Zealand. The European Feed Manufacturers' Federation and the International Egg Commission, among others, are also included in the partnership.