ROSEMONT, ILL. – The Innovation Center for US Dairy revealed the seven winners of the 2022 US Dairy Sustainability Awards program, which honored dairy farms, processors and businesses for their positive impacts on the environment.

The Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability award went to four different farms: Deer Run Dairy, in Kewaunee, Wis.; Grayhouse Farms, Inc., in Stony Point, N.C.; Steve and Cheryl Schlangen Dairy Farm, in Albany, Minn.; and Bar 20, in Kermen, Calif.

Milk Specialties Global, Monroe, Wis., received this year’s Outstanding Dairy Processing Sustainability award, while Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers earned the Outstanding Community Impact award.

A project involving Bel Brands, Land O’ Lakes Inc. and Boardwine Dairy merited the award for Outstanding Supply Chain Sustainability.

“This year’s winners exemplify how forward-thinking and regenerative efforts across the entire supply chain have led to positive results and what it means to be an environmental solution,” said Barbara O’Brien, chief executive officer of the Innovation Center for US Dairy. “Considered collectively, these stories of success serve as examples of all the good things US dairy is doing for planetary health and why the aggressive goals we have set are within reach.”

All of the winners made use of practices that support the dairy industry’s 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals.

The process for selecting the winners involves a panel of independent judges who are experts in the fields of dairy and conservation. Innovation, scalability and replicability are key attributes that are considered while sorting through the nominees for the US Dairy Sustainability Awards. Applicants also must possess good standing in the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) animal care program and agree to participate in the program’s online project that tracks green house gas emissions and energy footprints for companies.

The Innovation Center for US Dairy highlighted some of the factors that helped the 2022 award winners stand out:

Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability: Deer Run Dairy, Kewaunee, Wis. – Partners Duane Ducat, Derek Ducat and Dale Bogart, while dealing with water quality challenges, achieved their goal to seed 100% of their cropland with cover crops in the fall of 2021. They also have goals of minimal antibiotic use and feeding trials to reduce methane gas production among the operation’s 1,850 cows.

Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability: Grayhouse Farms, Inc., Stony Point, N.C. – Using a multitude of conservation approaches, including a flush manure management and sand separation system, as well as a four-stage lagoon that is designed to best utilize water nutrients, the farm also was designed to deliver comfort to its 1,120 cows. Some of the farm’s soil conservation strategy involves GPS placement of nutrients and no-till farming.

Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability: Steve and Cheryl Schlangen Dairy Farm, Albany, Minn. – The 200-acre farm that is home to 60 cows implements more than 30 conservation tactics, such as LED lighting and a manure injection system that has almost completely eliminated the need for commercial fertilizer on its crops. The Schlangens’ reputation with regenerative agriculture has made their model one for other farms to follow.

Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability: Bar 20, Kerman, Calif. – The dairy farm invested heavily in energy conservation. With LED bulbs in its barns, it reduced electricity demand by 75%. Two solar array installations power the barn and offset power usage throughout the operation. Plus, Bar 20 uses a dairy digester to capture methane from its herd of 7,000 cows and convert that methane into renewable electricity via fuel cells, which also power a feed mixing system. What’s more, the farm’s partnership with BMW North America provides dairy-derived electricity that is used to power electric vehicles.

Outstanding Dairy Processing Sustainability: Milk Specialties Global, Monroe, Wis. – The company’s whey processing project helped it double capacity at its plant without taking on a larger environmental footprint. MSG acquired the plant in Monroe, Wis., to help it meet the quickly rising demand for dairy proteins. Then the whey byproduct supply from local cheesemakers was more than the plant could initially handle. By significantly increasing the plant’s capacity, it made a positive impact on the supply chain. MSG estimated 47,446 gallons of diesel fuel were saved, reducing GHG emissions by 486 metric tons. Moreover, potentially wasted whey byproduct is turned into 53,000 pounds of whey protein each year.

Outstanding Community Impact: Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers – The cooperative association used the supply chain and partnerships to pass out more than $19 million for sustainability investments on its members’ farms. And volunteers from the cooperative plant riparian buffers on dairy farms and participate in trash pick-ups along waterways.

Outstanding Supply Chain Sustainability: Bel Brands, Land O’Lakes Inc., Boadwine Dairy – A multi-year project uses feed production practices to reduce GHG emissions and support sustainable farming practices. The program, which began with a pilot project at Boadwine Dairy in South Dakota, provides farmers with cost incentives and access to various resources. The project is expanding to other dairy farms, too.