Darigold Inc. and the Northwest Dairy Assn. (NDA) have announced a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. By investing in renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency, promoting farm-level carbon sequestration projects and modernizing its processing and transportation network, the Northwest farmer-owned cooperative believes it can offset the greenhouse gas emissions of its entire enterprise from farm to consumer product.
Darigold and its NDA farmer-owners have a track record of environmental advancements, with the farms regularly winning national sustainability awards and a growing number of them implementing methodologies -- such as biological systems or feed additives -- that mitigate the methane emissions associated with their dairy operations.
“The co-op had previously announced a goal to reduce carbon emissions 20-30% by 2030, but our organization determined it is not only feasible but imperative to go all the way and strive for complete carbon neutrality,” Darigold president and chief executive officer Stan Ryan said. “We know that fiscal and technological hurdles remain, as well as some challenges with yet unknown solutions, but existing stewardship projects have dramatically improved the outlook of achieving carbon neutrality, driving our confidence to announce this goal.”
Preliminary results from one major farmer-run project developed with help from state and conservation groups over the past few years demonstrate that the carbon-neutral goal is well within reach, and while carbon credit validation results are still pending, NDA is hopeful that it can offer up to 100 million lb. per year of farm-level carbon-neutral milk by 2021, according to the announcement.
The carbon-neutral goal announced by Darigold and NDA continues the long-term and impressive leadership commonly found in the U.S. dairy industry, the announcement stated. Due to advances in animal care, feed and genetics, dairy farms in this country have already reduced their carbon emissions by two-thirds since the 1950s, according to Dr. Frank Mitloehner, an air quality expert and University of California-Davis professor.
The goal for Darigold and NDA to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 aligns with goals set earlier this year by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy for the entire U.S. dairy business to collectively reach carbon neutrality or better by 2050.
“Our local farmer-owners want to lead in the spirit of the 102-year-old co-op to set up the next generation of proud and successful farmers,” Ryan said. “Many of the co-op's nearly 400 farm families are multigenerational. They are dedicated to protecting their natural resources not only because it's the right thing to do but also so their children and grandchildren can continue their legacy.”
Duane Naluai, senior vice president of Darigold consumer products, recognizes that consumers expect businesses to do their part to care for the planet.
“I am proud that Darigold is living our core values of leadership, stewardship and perseverance through this announcement,” he said. “More than an initiative, we are committed to achieving carbon neutrality for the good of all who share this precious planet: our animals, families, employees, neighbors, consumers and customers. This represents a new level of action and will result in Darigold designing even more sustainability into our business processes, packages and products, alongside quality, nutrition and value.”
Headquartered in Seattle, Wash., Darigold is the marketing and processing subsidiary of NDA, which is owned by nearly 400 dairy farm families in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Darigold handles approximately 10 billion lb. of milk annually and produces a full line of dairy-based products for retail, foodservice, commodity and specialty markets. Darigold is one of the largest U.S. dairy processors, operating 11 plants throughout the Northwest that process high-quality milk produced by NDA farm families.