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Keepin’ it Green: Dairy Sustainability Awards

We’ve all heard about the importance of recycling, reducing, and reusing on a small scale, but to do it on a large scale—with a dairy farm—is a whole other story. And those who do it, especially while making cheese, should be recognized.

And what’s better than being recognized by a group of dairy farming peers? Not much! (Well, maybe eating the cheese made by those dairy farming peers but otherwise, not much).

Enter The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and their U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award.

The Innovation Center was created by America’s dairy farmers, for America’s dairy farmers. Lead by Dairy Management Inc. ™ (DMI) (a non-profit organization funded by America’s dairy farmers and dairy importers), The Innovation Center was established in 2008 to promote growth of the dairy industry and, of course, foster innovation in research, outreach and sustainability.

In 2011, to recognize those innovations, they began judging and awarding nominated farms in four categories:

  • Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability
  • Outstanding Dairy Processing and Manufacturing Sustainability
  • Outstanding Achievement in Resource Stewardship
  • Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnerships

This year, Hilmar Cheese Company, headquartered in Hilmar, CA, won the award for Outstanding Diary Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability.

While producing roughly 2 million pounds of cheese per day, Hilmar committed to improving their sustainability practices across their organization. They even found a way to reclaim and recycle nearly 100% of the water from their cheese production. As illustrated in this handy diagram from Hilmar’s website, the water is then used throughout the rest of their operation:

In addition to their innovations in water recycling, they also built the first dairy building to be awarded the LEED Platinum Certification, use recycled materials for their packaging, and power their California Headquarters and Innovation Center (everyone is innovating!) with solar energy. Oh my!

Though they set a high bar for a better, cleaner world for green cheese, Hilmar’s not alone.

At the recent award ceremony Barbara O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center, said that “this year’s award winners truly are changing the equation for what the industry and consumers think about sustainability.” She continues that each winner has strengthened connection within their communities and become examples for other dairy farms and businesses.

Here is the full list of 2015 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards winners:

Outstanding Achievement in Resource Stewardship:

  • Freund’s Farm, East Canaan, Connecticut
  • Honorable Mention: T-Bar Dairy and White Gold Dairy, Porterville, California

Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability

  • Dorrich Dairy, Glenwood, Minnesota
  • Nobis Dairy Farms, St. Johns, Michigan
  • Oregon Dairy Farm, Lititz, Pennsylvania
  • Honorable Mention: Alliance Dairies, Trenton, Florida

Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability

  • Hilmar Cheese Company, Hilmar, California

Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnerships

  • HP Hood LLC and CleanWorld, Sacramento
  • Honorable Mention: Northern Illinois Food Bank and Prairie Farms Dairy, Geneva, Illinois

Read more about all the winners here.

Amy Fukuizumi

Amy loves few things more than writing and cheese. As a testament to these loves, she drove across the country to join culture: the word on cheese. Her goal as Social Media Manager is to make the world (digitally) feel this love (and 'Like' it a lot).

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