While the dairy industry has a “halo” around dairy nutrition, sometimes the environmental story gets lost, says Krysta Harden, the recently appointed Executive Vice President of Global Environmental Strategy for Dairy Management, Inc., the dairy check-off organization. Growing up on her family’s peanut, cotton and beef cattle farm in Georgia, she was a Deputy Secretary at USDA during the Obama administration. She says, “Dairy producers are the most resilient group of people I’ve ever known.”
At DMI, she’s reunited with former Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack who now heads up the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Before joining DMI in April, she was a senior executive for external affairs and sustainability at Corteva Agriscience, the ag division of DowDuPont.
Her mission at DMI, she explains, is to help dairy farmers have a compelling story and to help them tell that story. She points out that the dairy industry from farm to table has reduced the carbon footprint of a gallon of milk by 60% since the 1950s. And all of dairy right now contributes just two percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. These facts are not well understood, she emphasizes. The commitment and investments of dairy producers are too often unknown to the consuming public.
She also wants to provide producers with information about the best tools to support their efficiency goals from manure management, feed production and dairy nutrition to water usage.
In society today, sometimes misinformation gets a life of its own, she points out. “We hope to clarify what dairy producers are doing,“ she says.
She reports that she is looking forward to representing dairy at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit to be held Nov. 20 – 21 in Indianapolis, Ind. The Summit is hosted jointly by six agricultural organizations representing America’s commodity crop, specialty crop, beef, dairy, pork and poultry industries.