In The Wash
Nerd herd digital campaign
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) is the third largest dairy company globally and the largest in the USA. In 2022, DFA launched a digital campaign, backed up by a webpage and sustainability report, to showcase how the industry can help the environment. It’s called ‘Nerd Herd’ as DFA is using what they call ‘high tech, high-IQ’ solutions to meet their goal to reduce their GHG emissions by 30% by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050. However, their plan to do so doesn’t add up.
We certainly love nerdy plans that involve saving our planet, and DFA is going to need all the help it can get if it wants to reduce the 45.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions they produce a year.
Their plan puts a lot of emphasis on using renewable energy and optimization of transport and production plants, as well as using techniques to restore soil health.
But these activities only go so far in reducing emissions when the majority of their emissions are methane (59% of their GHG emissions), most of of which will come from cow’s burps.
To tackle methane, they are looking at adding feed that improves the cow’s digestion and reduces emissions, as well as using the manure produced to create energy. While both technologies can potentially reduce emissions, it is still unclear as to how much. Crucially, the DFA, despite claiming to be a ‘nerd herd’ don’t show the numbers.
Feed additives are a new technology and it is still unclear if they can create long term reductions in methane. As for turning manure into energy, this can reduce some impact, but given that manure is a small source of methane emissions and there’s still a risk of leaks, this approach is far from a silver bullet.
Doesn't reflect full life cycle