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USA 23.01.2024

Organic Valley Initiates Carbon Program with Payments to Participating Farmers

Source: The DairyNews
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Organic Valley, the nation's largest cooperative of organic farmers, marked a pivotal moment at the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) Dairy Forum in Phoenix by announcing the first signed agreements and payments under its Carbon Insetting Program (OVCIP).
Organic Valley Initiates Carbon Program with Payments to Participating Farmers
This program is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on organic farms, demonstrating the cooperative's commitment to sustainability and climate-friendly dairy production.

Based on research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, revealing that Organic Valley's on-farm milk emissions are among the lowest nationally, the cooperative is taking proactive steps to further enhance the carbon footprint of its milk. CEO Jeff Frank emphasized the tangible impact of the initiative, stating, "These are real funds for farmers taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S."

The USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant has enabled Organic Valley to provide additional support for eligible member-owner farms. This includes assistance in selecting and scoping region-specific projects, verifying these projects, and financially supporting their implementation.

Setting a new industry standard, Organic Valley's carbon insetting program provides comprehensive support and a market price for every ton of third-party verified carbon reduction or removal achieved by participating farms. The cooperative offers technical guidance to farmers for planning and designing carbon-reducing projects, secures grant funds for implementation, and ensures the monitoring and verification of project outcomes.

Initial projects span various regions and encompass on-farm initiatives such as tree planting in actively grazed pastures, renewable energy installations at farmsteads, upgraded manure management technology, and enteric-reducing feed supplements.

During the IDFA Dairy Forum session titled "Carbon Insetting is the New Offsetting," Organic Valley's Director of Sustainability, Nicole Rakobitsch, outlined the cooperative's commitment to turning this innovative concept into a reality. Organic Valley's transparent approach sets it apart in the industry, offering a unique and traceable model for carbon insetting in agriculture.

Chris Wilson, an Organic Valley dairy farmer from Wisconsin, emphasized the holistic approach of the program, stating, "The goal is constantly trying to find ways to sequester carbon and make healthy soil. Healthy soil supports healthy cows, healthy cows make delicious and nutritious milk — all this goes hand in hand."

For further insights into how these sustainable practices are implemented, readers can explore Organic Valley's blog, Rootstock.
Aaron Smith
Aaron Smith
Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California
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February 2024
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