Just about 2.0 percent of all US greenhouse gas emissions is due to the dairy industry, says to a new report.
The study, led by the University of Arkansas in association with Michigan Technological University, measures the carbon footprint of a gallon of fluid milk from farm to table and uses 2007 and 2008 data from more than 500 dairy farms and 50 dairy processors along with as well as data from more than 210,000 round trips transporting milk from farm to processing plant.
The researchers analysed the impact of variables ranging from fertilizer and herbicides to harvesting and transportation.
"We focused on the carbon footprint of the feed crops. We also looked at a Michigan feed mill, where grain gets combined with any of over a hundred different additives," said David Shonnard, director of the Sustainable Futures Institute.
The team concluded that the cumulative total emission of greenhouse gases associated with all fluid milk consumed in the US was approximately 35 million metric tons in 2007.
While the emissions are lower than sometimes reported, there is still room for improvement for dairy farms and businesses of all kinds, the study concluded.