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Federal Incentives for Dairy Can Enhance Carbon-Reduction Efforts, NMPF’s McCloskey Says

August 4, 2020

Sharing how his own farm is evolving to carbon neutrality and how the dairy sector is aggressively moving to become carbon-neutral by 2050, NMPF Environmental Issues Committee Chairman Mike McCloskey highlighted ways federal incentives can further help dairy toward its net-zero emissions future.

“For some reason, repurposing cow manure does not have the same shine as an array of solar panels or the grandeur of a wind farm on the horizon,” said McCloskey, co-founder and CEO Select Milk Producers and a member of NMPF’s executive committee, in written testimony for a July 23 hearing of the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit.

But aligning the incentives needed for dairy to widely adopt anaerobic digesters and other emissions-mitigation technologies deserves greater attention, as it will only enhance the energy transition already encouraged by federal support for better-known clean-energy sources, he said.

“Anaerobic digestion provides clean energy and several other environmental benefits – such as avoided methane emissions, mitigated odor and air pollution, and minimized nutrient loading,” McCloskey said.

The dairy industry has adopted an ambitious goal of becoming a carbon-neutral sector of the economy by 2050 through its Net-Zero Initiative, a partnership among farmers and the entire production chain. As the national organization representing U.S. dairy farmers, NMPF is committed to these sustainability goals, which will be greatly aided by public-policy solutions.

Welltargeted incentives that encourage climate-friendly investments among dairy producers of all sizes would greatly aid the entire dairy industry in its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, potentially making earlier achievement possible, McCloskey said in his testimony before the committee.

“We have committed in the dairy industry that we are going to go to net zero,” said McCloskey, chairman of the National Milk Producers Federation’s Environmental Issues Committee. “We can get there with your support.”

McCloskey added that dairy’s progress toward net-zero goals could create “thousands and thousands of jobs” and revitalize rural economies as industries spring up around clean technologies.

As the largest organization representing U.S. dairy farmers, NMPF is committed to industrywide net-zero goals, which will be greatly aided by public-policy solutions.