Each year, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy gathers experts from academic, government and non-government organizations as members of the Dairy Sustainability Alliance to measure, improve and communicate dairy’s role in a sustainable food system. The Forum also recognizes dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices are leading the way in providing consumers with nutritious dairy products, while making the earth economically, environmental and socially better – now and for years to come.
This year, Newtrient presented a panel on the “Magic of Manure” highlighting how Newtrient is collaborating with leading dairy cooperatives to drive the adoption of innovative technologies, products and markets. Specifically, the panel provided insight on:
1. How dairy is leading the way to unleash the value of nutrient management and ecosystem services
2. How to create economic incentives for dairy farmers to deliver impactful societal benefits
3. How the entire supply chain can work together to adopt market-based approaches that deliver improved soil health and water quality and quantity benefits
Steven Rowe, CEO of Newtrient, kicked off the panel by inviting everyone in the room to imagine a new economic future for dairy. A future that aligns the incentives between regulators and the regulated community by creating a market-based approach that monetizes ecosystem benefits, like improved soil health and water quality. This new economic future requires the entire dairy value chain to think differently about environmental solutions.
Panelists including Brad Scott, California dairy farmer, Jed Davis, Director of Sustainability at Agri-Mark and Chris Kopman, CFO of Newtrient took the stage to discuss solutions and respond to a variety of questions from Jamie Vander Molen, Director of Communications for Newtrient.
Why does the dairy industry need a market-based solution to reach our sustainability goals?
Scott: We need to start thinking of manure as a valuable product — not a waste product, It contains nitrogen, phosphorus and nutrients that can be used on farm land, for energy production, potting soils and so much more! A market-based solution allows farmers to truly realize the value of manure.
Kopman: Newtrient is working to drive the adoption of innovative technologies, products and markets to create this new economic future for dairy. We know the value of manure. We’ve evaluated the available manure-management and nutrient recovery technologies in North American and are working to introduce more dairy-derived products. Broadly speaking, we’re left with an economic gap that products alone will not fill. This remaining gap presents significant barriers for farmers to implement innovative technologies on the farm.
Davis: A market-based approach will help close the obvious economic gap and allow farmers, processors, regions and the entire value chain to work together toward common sustainability goals including improved water quality, soil health and more.
How does each person and company within in the dairy value chain participate?
Scott: Farmers are committed to continuous improvement. Through the market-based approach, farmers are provided the incentives needed to take voluntary steps that benefit all of society.
Davis: We can all agree on improved soil health, water quality and water quantity. Those interested in continual improvement will sign up to participate. From an Agri-Mark perspective, a market-based approach also unleashes new opportunities for processors to work closely with local farmers and close the loop. By working together, we can deliver a healthier value chain.
Kopman: It’s about creating the right incentives that identify and who can meet sustainability goals at the lowest cost. Right now, farmers are best positioned to achieve sustainability improvement at the lowest cost. We start with the lowest cost, but everyone participates.
Who benefits from a market-based approach?
Davis: Everyone. The benefits extend to all who participate and all of society. The benefits drive greater adoption of technologies and practices across the supply chain, reduce costs to taxpayers, stimulate rural economies and enhance and improve the environment.
How close are we to making this a reality?
Kopman: We’re getting close. The story is compelling to groups on the supply and demande side of the market-based approach. Newtrient is actively involved in key dairy states (Wisconsin, Vermont and Pennsylvania) to advance the market-based model. We’re also working with state governments, wastewater treatment facilities, private industry and other stakeholders that are potential buyers in the marketplace.
Our work in Vermont and Wisconsin is progressing, and one of the key next steps is to develop on-farm projects to act as proof-of-concepts in each state.
Davis: I encourage you to work closely with Newtrient to find market-driven solutions for your farms, cooperatives and regions. Markets can be all shapes and sizes. Newtrient will deliver technology, product and market solutions that fit your needs.
Contact Newtrient at [email protected] if you’re interested in evaluating environmental and economic solutions for your farm, company or region.