As a member-owned cooperative, we care about sustainability, not only for our business success today, but to help support the livelihoods of generations to come. But it’s not enough to simply do the work. It’s also important to show what farmers are doing through data. That’s why we are hard at work quantifying member-owners progress and promoting their commitment to sustainability through Conservation Dairy assessments.
“Farmers are in it for the really long haul. When we think about our business, we think about it in generations. We want to protect our land and business for those who come next,” says Land O’Lakes member-owner Suzanne Vold. “Conservation Dairy assessments are one important way we can do just that.”
Conservation Dairy assessment help provide an accurate, insights-based picture of current sustainability efforts on Land O’Lakes, Inc. member dairy farms across America. These assessments collect over 250 data points on a variety of information, including fuel, electricity and water usage, as well as nutrient application, crop rotation and manure management. With the right information, these assessments take less than an hour to complete.
“We know we take care of our natural resources. We know we take care of our animals. We know we take care of our land. But it’s not enough just to say we are sustainable. We have to show it,” says Suzanne.
Land O’Lakes is a leader in the dairy industry and a leader in on-farm conservation. But we need measurable data and proof points to back up our sustainability story on our members’ farms. That’s where Conservation Dairy assessments step in.
“The purchasers of goods from large, international companies like Walmart, Nestle and Unilever will influence whether U.S. dairy is used in their products. Through these Conservation Dairy assessments, we can prove to our customers, and the purchasers of their goods, that we have the data that backs up our sustainability story,” says Suzanne.
Land O’Lakes has made commitments to key retail and business-to-business customers that all dairy members will complete a Conservation Dairy assessment by 2025. As part of our sustainability commitment to Walmart, these assessments will focus on continuous improvement of enteric emissions and yield, including high greenhouse gas emissions manure systems.
“We want to give our customers peace of mind and assurance that our milk is produced in a responsible way for our producers, the animals, the environment and ultimately for the consumer themselves. These assessments will provide the cold hard data that the consumer wants,” says Haley Hinrichs, a Conservation Dairy intern who spent her summer conducting on-farm assessments.
To demonstrate our commitment to these efforts, Land O’Lakes has built a Conservation Dairy team charged with conducting these assessments and analyzing the data to suggest continuous improvement opportunities to members and relay important data to customer teams.
Amber Mirabal, Conservation Dairy Manager
Aaron Harris, the Conservation Dairy Specialist - East
Spencer Peck, Conservation Dairy/FARM Specialist - West
Kelsey King, Conservation Dairy Specialist – Upper Midwest
Through Conservation Dairy assessments, we are upholding our promise to the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment and National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management), demonstrating our members’ effort to uphold social, environmental and financial sustainability. By signing the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment, Land O’ Lakes has agreed to follow a rigorous set of standards, as well as track and report on our progress of producing food in a responsible way.
“Land O’Lakes was an early adopter of the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment. We want to tell the story of the good things U.S. dairy is doing, and work together as a cooperative and as an industry to demonstrate on-farm sustainability,” says Suzanne, a member of the Stewardship Commitment Taskforce.
As a leader for U.S. dairy, Land O’Lakes, Inc. has the power to impact the future of on-farm conservation. One that makes both environmental and economic sense to protect the long-term viability of dairy farming.
“Sustainability is here to stay. We can either pave the way and set the standards or we can join later and follow the rules and regulations that have already been put into place,” says Haley.
To get started on scheduling your assessment, please contact your local field staff representative as soon as possible.