A Lancaster County, Pa. couple among those honored
|Andrea and Cliff Sensenig of Kirkwood, Lancaster County, Pa., were among several dairy farmers recognized for sustainable projects implemented on their respective operations.|
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- When the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards were announced here in the nation’s capital during a special ceremony on May 14th, the winners included a dairy farm couple from Lancaster County, Pa.; a very accomplished and well-known family in Kansas that formerly farmed in Bradford County, Pa.; and the vast operations of a California dairy started by a former Holstein Association USA president. The awards program recognizes dairy farms, businesses and collaborative partnerships that are committed to stewardship and sustainability, delivering exceptional results that are good for business, good for the environment and good for the community.
“The award winners embody the dairy industry’s pledge to provide a healthy future for the next generation through nutritious foods and beverages, community development and innovative business practices,” said Barbara O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, which founded the awards program. “This pledge was recently corroborated by the White House’s reference to the voluntary actions and continuous improvements of dairy farms and companies in its announcement of a Biogas and Energy Roadmap.”
The winners were selected based on results as measured by economic, environmental and community impact, also known as triple-bottom-line success. An independent panel of judges — which included experts from academic institutions, government, dairy science organizations, nongovernmental organizations and media, as well as environmental and dairy industry leaders — also assessed the potential for adoption by others, demonstrated learning, innovation, improvement and scalability.
“As farmers, we feel a strong sense of responsibility to our communities, the land and our animals, and we want to pass along a strong business to the next generation,” said Paul Rovey, an Arizona dairy farmer, member of the judging panel and chairman of Dairy Management Inc. “We are always looking at how others innovate and implement better practices. By sharing the winners’ stories, we can all learn and improve.”
Winners of the Dairy Sustainability Awards were:
• Sensenig Dairy, Kirkwood, Pennsylvania. In order to ensure their farm would be viable for the next generation, Cliff and Andrea Sensenig included a methane digester in their new set-up. Three years of planning and collaboration with consultants and neighbors led to a digester that now processes manure from 200 dairy animals, 2000 hogs and 30,000 chickens from neighboring farms, along with local food waste. Each year the digester reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to removing 206 cars from the road, while delivering environmental and financial benefits for the dairy.
• McCarty Family Farms, Rexford, Kansas. In their quest to conserve water, the McCarty Family partnered with Dannon to construct a condensed milk processing plant that extracts more than 14 million gallons of water from milk each year. The water can be used for animal and crop care. McCarty Family Farms also is working to create sustainable communities, bringing more than 100 new jobs to the area, which translates into more children in the local school districts, increased housing demand, and tax revenues for the county and state.
• Maddox Dairy, Riverdale, California: The pioneer spirit of the Maddox Family has led to opened doors for the dairy industry. The total mixed ration feeding method, the use of drive-through freestall barns and galvanized self-locking headlocks -- standards in today’s dairy industry -- are techniques trailblazed by Maddox Dairy. Recent projects have resulted in reduced costs, lower environmental impact, and healthier, more productive livestock for the dairy; and cleaner air and energy for the surrounding community.
• The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy also recognized outstanding achievement in energy efficiency. Cited for their efforts was:
• Marshik Dairy, Pierz, Minnesota. In 2010, this fifth-generation 155-cow family farm implemented a new, technologically advanced and energy efficient barn that included robotic milking facilities, energy efficient lighting and ventilation, and renewable wind and solar power. Robotics increased cow comfort and improved their lifestyle and that of future generations on the farm. Their success proves that these technologies can be implemented on any size dairy, the award sponsors pointed out.
• Earning recognition for outstanding achievement in renewable energy was:
• Vander Haak Dairy, Lynden, Washington. An unprecedented collaboration between Vander Haak Dairy, Washington State University and Andgar Corporation built Washington’s first dairy digester as a test bed for technology development and monitoring. Vander Haak explored the potential of adding food waste to the digester. Now, in addition to creating renewable energy and additional revenue streams for his farm, Vander Haak is helping food processors repurpose their waste to help grow more food.
• Also a part of the program is recognition of outstanding dairy processing & manufacturing sustainability.
• Joseph Gallo Farms, Atwater, California, won the award this eyar. Sustainability is simply a new word for an age-old concept at Joseph Gallo Farms, where energy-efficient equipment and cutting-edge technology in its cheese plant help to conserve energy and at least 2.9 billion gallons of water each year, in addition to accepting as much as 10 million gallons of stormwater and wastewater each day from local communities to use for irrigation. Joseph Gallo Farms is now one of the largest employers in its county and is creating green collar jobs, proving that when sustainability helps businesses succeed, it’s the communities that win.
The U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment and the Sustainability Awards program are supported by gold- and silver-level sponsors. This year’s gold-level sponsors include the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, DeLaval, DVO Anaerobic Digesters, Elanco Animal Health, HDR, InSinkErator, Tetra Pak Inc., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, World Wildlife Fund and Zoetis. Silver-level sponsors include Dolphin WaterCare, Organic Solution Management, Skip Shapiro Enterprises, LLC and Syngenta.
The awards program is part of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment, an industrywide effort to measure and improve the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the dairy industry. In 2013, more than 600 dairy industry, academic, government and nongovernment professionals contributed their expertise and an estimated 21,500 hours -- which totaled nearly $2.5 million in business value — to support Innovation Center-led sustainability efforts.