A Global Challenge: Struggling Livestock Farms Seeking Solutions

Every year, livestock producers have to manage over a billion tons of animal manure by expensive means. The Nutrient Recycling Challenge includes Federal agencies as well as dairy & pork industry stakeholders seeking a solution... Read more


The American Biogas Council

The trade association for the U.S. biogas industry, applauds the bill (the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act - HR 5489) which will increase the sustainability of farms by helping to deploy new nutrient recovery and biogas systems to recycle organic material into baseload renewable energy and healthy soil products. The Act provides a 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC) for qualifying biogas and nutrient recovery systems. To have both healthy watersheds and soils, sustainable agricultural practices are critical. If excessive amounts of nutrients are applied to soils within the short windows available between planting crops, the nutrients often do not have an opportunity to be used by the crop and run into waterways especially during heavy rains that often occur in spring and fall. The excess nutrients can then create harmful algal blooms that starve fish and desirable aquatic plants of the oxygen they need to thrive. More Here

Image source: ABC

Problem: Biogas production generates nutrient rich effluent that either requires spreading over fields or further treatment to prevent excessive nutrient runoff.

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

Many dairy farmers are facing increasing pressure to upgrade their manure management systems due to new regulations and inadequate land area to absorb manure nutrients. More Here

Photo source: SGS

Problem: Cost-effective solutions for manure management have been a challenge since off-site disposal is highly cost-intensive and on-site treatment technologies are limited.

Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s Caring Dairy™ programme, with over 300 participating farms in America and Europe, is helping farmers to make a difference from soil to sunshine and everything in between. For dairy cows, only 20% of the nutrients they consume are exported from the farm in milk. Much of the remainder is excreted in manure and urine. Dairy farms can take advantage of this nutrient cycling by growing high quality crops using soil nutrients, feeding those crops to dairy cows to make milk, and then using the manure and other materials, such as bedding, to return nutrients to the soil to grow more high quality crops. More Here

Image source: benjerry.com

CEO, it's noted, "Ben & Jerry's recognizes that we are connected to the farms in the Lake Carmi watershed. Our Caring Dairy farm program, which we implement through the St. Albans Cooperative, has members in the Lake Carmi watershed
More Here

Cabot Creamery Cooperative

Co-op is Nationally Recognized We have been recognized as a business that exemplifies the triple bottom line of sustainability: good for business, the community and the environment. More Here

Photo source: VPR

Problem: Cabot Creamery has no way to treat its wastewater at its Cabot facility, so it is stored in silos on-site then trucked to be sprayed on fields and injected into manure pits in 33 Vermont towns. On its website, Cabot Creamery quotes former cooperative executive Shawn Bryan as saying, "According to all environmental evaluation and study, including Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources, the upper Winooski River would not ever be able to assimilate treated wastewater from the town and the creamery. This was true in the 1980s and it is still true today. We have investigated every waste treatment technology that is developed or proposed. Land spreading remains our best option." More Here

Cooper Farms

A diverse, vertically integrated company, Cooper Farms consists of two divisions involving four locations, each with an important role. The Live Animal Division is responsible for overseeing the care of our animals while they mature, and for manufacturing the feed that keeps our animals healthy and strong.

Photo Source: farmanddairy.com

The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association recognized Cooper Farms contract turkey growers, Tom and Lisa Lefevre, with the Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award, North Central Region. The Lefevres go above and beyond in all that they do, and environmental stewardship is no exception. Projects such as the creation of a comprehensive nutrient management plan through the USDA’s Department of Natural Resources Conservation Service, proper manure application with routine manure and soil sampling, construction of retention ponds which capture runoff water and irrigate water in the summer month and installation of specialized waterways and filter strips to reduce soil erosion and much more. More Here

Problem: Members of the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee held their first public hearing of the year Jan. 29, where they fielded public comment about new legislation to help control nutrient runoff from farmers’ fields. Meeting at Cooper Farms in Van Wert, the committee listened to farmers and farm organizations talk about the benefits and consequences of new rules and bans that could affect how farmers are allowed to apply manure and other fertilizers. More Here


Brothers Matt and Ben Freund are second generation dairy farmers in the northwest hills of Connecticut. In the dairy industry one of the most challenging jobs is to manage the nutrient stream in an environmentally sound manner. Freund’s Farm was one of the first in the state to store manure to apply in a timely fashion to optimize crop nutrient uptake. More Here

Photo source: CowPots

Dairy Farmers of America

To proactively answer the needs of consumers, retailers and processors, Dairy Farmers of America developed the Gold Standard Dairy Program in 2007 and is continuously evolving it to ensure best practices and emerging areas of interest on dairy farms are understood. The on-farm evaluation assesses areas, such as animal care and wellness, environmental stewardship, employee training, and milk safety and quality. “Animal care has always been a topic important to people,” says David Darr, vice president of sustainability and general manager of Farm Services. “Things like environmental stewardship, water use, manure management and employee training are becoming more prevalent from customers who ask questions.” More Here

Image Source: Dairy Farmers of America

Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy announced its seventh annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award winners during a May 16 ceremony at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill., outside of Chicago.

Judges evaluated nominations based on their economic, environmental and community impact. The independent judging panel — including leading dairy conservation and commercial experts — also considered innovation, scalability and replicability.

“As a dairy farmer, I’m extremely proud of the innovation these award winners have demonstrated across the dairy community,” said Marilyn Hershey, Pennsylvania dairy farmer and chair of the Dairy Management Inc. board of directors. “These progressive practices highlight the dairy industry’s commitment to improving the land, caring for the animals, and doing more with less.” More Here

Image Source: Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

National Milk Producers Federation

The federal government no longer supports the price of dairy products, which today are highly volatile and influenced by global trends in supply and demand. Such price volatility demonstrates the need for a voluntary, insurance-based federal safety net program to give farmers an effective tool to protect their farms in times of extremely low milk prices or high feed costs. More Here

Image Source: National Milk Producers Federation

Newtrient, LLC

DFA also is an investor in Newtrient, a new entity formed in July 2015 by Dairy Management Inc., the National Milk Producers Federation and 12 cooperatives, representing nearly 50 percent of the U.S. milk supply, to drive the innovation of new technology and creative regulatory structures to enable dairy farmers to adopt sound sustainability practices. Newtrient’s efforts will help farmers throughout the industry by identifying nutrient management technologies to reduce dairy’s environmental footprint and create markets for nutrient byproducts. The new company will also provide education, counseling and consultation for farmers, and will explore innovative approaches to dairy’s ongoing sustainability work. More Here

Newtrient also is working with various state regulatory agencies, the EPA and the USDA to develop “environmental asset trading programs.” These programs envision voluntary lowest-cost pollution prevention efforts to be used first – and for those efforts to be paid for by companies and municipalities who struggle with the high cost of their compliance obligations. Newtrient’s mission aligns with farmers’ long-standing commitment to identify resources and solutions that further reduce dairy’s environmental footprint while also making it economically viable to do so. More Here

Image Source: Newtrient LLC

Smithfield Foods

Photo Source: Smithfield Managing hog manure—more than a billion tons per year across the industry—is a major challenge. As an active partner in this project (In the Nutrient Recycling Challenge), Smithfield is leveraging a decades-long focus on effective manure management systems. After all, we have lots of anaerobically digested manure, and we are anxious to find more ways to get the most value from it. More Here
Sustainability Report

Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods is one of the leading supporters of U.S. farm families, paying more than $15 billion in fiscal 2013 alone to independent farmers who supply us with livestock and poultry.

Problem: America's largest meat producer must clean up its act and incentivize improvements in livestock feed production. Source of satellite image and More Here

  • Tyson Foods is exposed to environmental, reputational, and financial risk associated with water pollution from animal feed and byproducts through its direct operations, contract farms, and suppliers. Water is a critical resource for Tyson’s direct operations, the production of feed inputs, the safety of food produced, and safeguarding the communities in which Tyson operates.
  • Tyson produces feed for the production of 41,516,000 livestock per week. The cultivation of feed ingredients by suppliers requires fertilizer inputs and presents risks of nutrient runoff that may contain nitrogen and phosphorus.
  • Animal waste from direct operations and over 5,000 contract farmers may contain nutrients, bacteria, including antibiotic resistant bacteria and pathogens, and pharmaceutical residue. These can leach into local waterways, potentially endangering the environment, public health and Tyson’s own water supply.
  • A recent lawsuit in Washington State about local groundwater pollution from factory farms found that manure from livestock facilities should be regulated as solid waste.
  • More Here

Other Seekers

Water Environment & Reuse Foundation
World Wildlife Fund
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Energy
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Washington State University
Iowa State University
Marquette University

Our Mid Size Dairy Farm Partner

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Our Farm to Fly Project with Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative

Photo Courtesy - CAAFI

GSR's Farm-to-Fly project, ABLC, Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) Bi-Annual Meeting January 29, 2014, Washington DC.

Included in photo: (Right): U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; Vernita Dore (South Carolina, USDA); Tony Logan (Ohio, USDA); and Vickie Walker (Oregon, USDA); (Left): Todd Campbell, USDA (F2F2 Co-Lead); Chris Cassidy, USDA Renewable Energy Advisor; Anju Krivov, President & CEO, GSR Solutions; and Richard Altman, Executive Director Emeritus, CAAFI.

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“Farm to Fly 2.0” State Initiatives Making Progress 14 July 2014--The first half of 2014 was a period of significant successes on the East Coast relating to the "Farm to Fly 2.0" (F2F2) initiative, an agreement between the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to continue to work together to advance the use of renewable fuels in the aviation industry. Three projects in Vermont and South Carolina have received particular media attention over the last week. Projects in both states are funded by the USDA’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG)... Read More

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