USA – American dairy processor, Chobani has unveiled a comprehensive program dubbed Milk Matters™ to explore ways of supporting the dairy industry more sustainably.

In collaboration with Fair Trade USA, Chobani will explore ways of developing the first-ever standard and certification program for the dairy industry while putting the economic, environmental, and social impacts of dairy farms into consideration.

The program collaborates with World Wildlife Fund on environmental stewardship, National Milk Producers Federation on animal care and Cornell University to provide support to dairy farms.

This is part of Chobani’s commitment to positive transformation of its milkshed, that is support for greater transparency across dairy farms.

“Proud to share our vision for the future of dairy — from cows to people to planet. It’s a small step with a big message: the future of dairy farmers matters to all of us,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani.

“Dairy farms are the backbone of the communities we call home, but the current model is broken and it’s leaving consumers questioning everything, including the treatment of animals, farm workers, and the land itself.

“Our solution is simple but powerful. We all have a responsibility to support the farmers who make our business and our vision possible.”

Milk Matters set to be fully implemented by 2025 will work based on six critical pillars: Worker well-being; Environmental stewardship; Animal care; Local sourcing; Investing in dairy communities; and Freedom and flexibility for dairy farms.

Addressing challenges in the dairy industry

Milk Matters was also designed to tackle challenges faced in the dairy industry especially struggling dairy farms by enhancing transparency, supporting the entire dairy community and preserving long-term viability for the industry.

The program will include co-op partners, dairy farms and third-parties, state programs and community foundations in Idaho and New York to validate the continued progress.

In collaboration with Fair Trade USA, Chobani will explore a first-of-its-kind certification standard for U.S. dairy that protects and empowers dairy workers and provides meaningful premiums to benefit farmers and farm workers alike.

The partners will measure greenhouse gas emissions and energy use on dairy farms within Chobani’s supply chain to identify potential efficiency gains and cost savings for farmers, and as a result reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

By December 2019, the company together with its cooperative partners has pledged to comply with National Milk’s FARM Version 3.0 animal care standard.

Chobani plans to invest $2 million in grants over the next decade in dairy communities to promote economic empowerment and entrepreneurship.

It will also fund multi-year scholarships at Cornell University and the University of Idaho for students of dairy farming families looking to pursue a degree in dairy science.

Chobani has partnered with the Cornell PRO-DAIRY program and New York State’s Dairy Acceleration Program to help farms with less than 300 cows receive funding for small projects to address specific business needs.

The company has faulted the mandate to use non-GMO feed, saying this has placed an undue financial burden on farms.