Comments to AFACT members from Dr. Jude Capper of Cornell University on the below-mentioned Chicago Tribune article:
Globally, the U.N. estimate that 18 percent of greenhouse gases come from agriculture, but a recent study published by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that only 6 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture; and only 11 percent of those are from dairy cattle – a total contribution of 0.66 percent.
The main reason for the difference is the improved efficiency of U.S. dairy production compared with other systems: Since 1944 we have improved milk yield fourfold through improved genetics, nutrition and management.
The dairy industry exists to make milk; therefore, we must evaluate on a functional unit basis ‐ not per cow or per acre, but per pound or gallon of milk. Through producing more milk (184 billion lbs.) from fewer cows (9.2 million), since 1944 the carbon footprint per gallon of milk has been reduced by 67 percent simply through improved efficiency.