Dairy Takes a Leadership Role in Impacting Climate Change

November 9, 2021

6 Min Read
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BOSTON --Stonyfield Organic and Cabot are joining forces alongside the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance (FPSA) and Dairy Farmers of America to place dairy as a leader in forging a circular pathway to decarbonization and climate change mitigation. The Alliance, founded in 2020 by Vanguard Renewables, Unilever, Starbucks, and Dairy Farmers of America, aims to accelerate long-term commitments to avoid or eliminate food waste first and repurpose what can’t be eliminated into renewable energy via farm-based anaerobic digesters. The Farm Powered Strategic Alliance has been named one of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas.

“These two sustainably minded dairy companies are stepping up to a leadership role in climate change mitigation at a time when the eyes of the world are on the UN Climate Change Summit,” said John Hanselman, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Vanguard Renewables. “Each new Alliance member further enables the expansion of this farm-centered program to all major metro areas nationwide. Stonyfield Organic and Cabot now join other dairy brands and manufacturers including the Dairy Farmers of America to regenerate unavoidable waste into value and to help sustain the family farms that supply their milk,” added Hanselman.

Cabot Creamery/Agri-Mark, a Certified B Corporation and dairy cooperative best known for its classic sharp cheddar cheese and butter, has worked with Vanguard Renewables from the beginning and has a longstanding commitment to sustainability. Two of its farm members, Goodrich Farm in Salisbury, Vermont and Barstow’s Longview Farm in Hadley, Massachusetts, host Farm Powered anaerobic digesters. Cabot not only sends inedible organic waste from its manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts and Vermont to those digesters, but the Cooperative also purchases the renewable energy produced from the Farm Powered anaerobic digestion process to power the Massachusetts facility. “Cabot epitomizes the virtuous circle, closing the waste to energy loop by recycling its unavoidable manufacturing waste at an on-farm digester and decarbonizing their thermal energy usage by purchasing farm-derived renewable energy,” said Hanselman.

“It was a logical decision for us to join the Alliance; for any food organization trying to thoughtfully manage their energy footprints, there isn't a reason in the world not to join the FPSA and be a part of a solution," said Jed Davis, Director of Sustainability, Cabot Creamery.

Stonyfield Organic, the nation’s leading organic yogurt and a Certified B Corporation, has pioneered sustainable food production since its founding in 1983. With a long history of environmental leadership, Stonyfield Organic is the first food manufacturer to offset its greenhouse gas emissions from facility energy. In 2019, the brand committed to reduce carbon emissions 30% by 2030 as part of the Science Based Target Initiative. Most recently, Stonyfield also committed to 100% renewable energy supply for its Londonderry, NH manufacturing facility by 2025, 100% renewable electricity for its dairy supply chain by 2025, and a carbon positive dairy supply chain by 2030.

“Healthy food, healthy people, healthy planet, healthy business. Other companies have used these words to describe their purpose, but few were founded on those values – and even fewer have stayed true to them for decades the way we have here at Stonyfield Organic,” said Gary Hirshberg, co-founder and Chief Organic Optimist at Stonyfield Organic. “We’re honored to work collaboratively across the dairy industry to drive further environmental change and protect our resources for generations to come. It’s important for farmers of all sizes and types to have a seat at the table and we’re thrilled for organic to be a part of that,” he added.

The Farm Powered Strategic Alliance, founded in 2020 by Unilever, Starbucks, Dairy Farmers of America, and Vanguard Renewables, is a pre-competitive collaborative movement to boost food waste reduction and recycling, and expand renewable energy production across America. The Alliance offers U.S. food manufacturers and retailers with a circular approach to reducing the detrimental environmental impacts of CO2 emissions and offers a pathway toward a carbon-neutral footprint. Members have the opportunity to recycle unavoidable food and beverage waste on farms where it is combined with farm manure in a Farm Powered anaerobic digester to generate renewable natural gas (RNG). The process also produces a low carbon fertilizer that host farms use to support regenerative agriculture practices and provides the American farmer with a diversified income stream.

Hanselman explains that the potential impact of the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance continues to grow. In the United States, over 40 percent of all food produced is discarded and finding ways to reduce that waste is a priority. Across the country, some unavoidable food waste is still sent to landfills or incinerators, or is land applied, but can be repurposed to produce renewable energy. Organic waste recycling is a solution that addresses compliance with organic waste bans and the Biden Administration’s climate change plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

“In the early 2000s, the milk market was crashing, and we needed to diversify to keep our farm alive for the next generation. In partnership with Vanguard Renewables, we added an anaerobic digester to the farm which reduced our carbon footprint and our energy costs. We’re really proud of that decision,” says Dennis Barstow, Marketing and Education Manager, Longview Farm of Hadley, Massachusetts, a Cabot Creamery Cooperative member.

“Everyone talks about impacting climate change, but the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance offers a real pathway to its members and farm partners,” says Hanselman.

About Vanguard Renewables
Vanguard Renewables is a national leader in the development of food and dairy waste-to-renewable energy projects. The Company, based in Wellesley, Massachusetts, is committed to advancing decarbonization by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from farms and food waste and supporting regenerative agriculture best practices on partner farms. In December 2020, Vanguard launched the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance alongside food industry leaders Dairy Farmers of America, Unilever, and Starbucks. The Alliance commits to developing a circular solution for food waste reduction and recycling and decarbonization of manufacturing and the supply chain. Vanguard Renewables owns and operates six anaerobic digester facilities in the northeast and plans to expand to more than 100 sites nationwide by 2025. Vanguard’s established relationships and renewable natural gas offtake agreements with national utilities including Dominion Energy, Enbridge, ONE Gas, National Grid, and Eversource, and its strategic alliance with 14,500-dairy member cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America, position the Company to significantly increase U.S. production and delivery of renewable natural gas to commercial and residential customers across the country. Vanguard received the 2020 Energy Vision Leadership Award. Vanguard’s Farm Powered anaerobic digester at Goodrich Farm in Salisbury, Vermont was recognized with the 2021 Outstanding Dairy Sustainability Award from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Please visit https://vanguardrenewables.com/fpsa-farm-powered-strategic-alliance/ to learn more.

About Cabot Creamery Cooperative
For over a century, Cabot Creamery Co-operative has made the world’s finest dairy products using only the freshest ingredients. Their award-winning cheeses, yogurts, sour cream, cottage cheese, and butter stand apart because of Cabot farmers’ tireless dedication to quality. From being named the “World’s Best Cheddar,” to becoming the world’s first dairy co-operative to achieve B Corp status, Cabot is owned by dedicated farm families throughout New England and upstate New York. For more information, visit: http://www.cabotcheese.coop.

About Stonyfield Organic
As the country’s leading organic yogurt maker, Stonyfield Organic believes that taking care of organic farmers, cows, and their life's work will produce healthy food, healthy businesses, and a healthy planet. Stonyfield Organic, a Certified B Corp, is also making a difference by helping to protect and preserve the next generation of farmers and families through programs like its Direct Milk Supply and Wolfe’s Neck Organic Training Program as well as #PlayFree, a nationwide, multi-year initiative to help keep families free from toxic persistent pesticides in outdoor spaces across the country.

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