Report shows top 13 dairy companies have more emissions than state of Florida

The biggest dairy companies worldwide have more than the same combined greenhouse gas emissions as the state of Florida, the third biggest state in the US by population, according to a new report.

The report, by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), shows the impact of the 13 firms on the climate crisis is growing, with an 11% increase in emissions in the two years following the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.

The report also says the growth of giant dairy companies has helped force milk prices below the cost of production for the last decade, causing a crisis in rural livelihoods and requiring taxpayer subsidies to keep farmers afloat. The report recommends that caps on production are reintroduced to protect both the climate and small farmers.

Michael Webermann, US Director of ProVeg International: “This report brings to light the true environmental cost of dairy, which is far from the innocent by-product so many people believe it to be. On the contrary, the dairy industry is highly destructive. Unlike the fossil fuel industry, there is currently very little scrutiny to hold global dairy companies to account for their emissions, and very few companies are even reporting their emissions, which is a major problem.

“If we want to make real progress on climate change and lower greenhouse gas emissions, we need to take swift action to curb the emissions from dairy as well as meat. The USDA must overhaul the subsidy and bailout system that continues to perpetuate an environmentally destructive model of agriculture.

“The good news is dairy is on the decline. More and more people are opting for plant milk. Especially during a pandemic where shelf-life is important, we’ve seen demand for oat milk outpace hand sanitizer. There are now sustainable dairy-free alternatives for almost every product you could want, from ice cream to pizza to yogurt to cheese, and so many different plant milks to choose from – all more readily available than ever. There’s never been a better or more important time to try dairy-free.”

The IATP report used the UN FAO’s global livestock environmental assessment model to assign emission levels to dairy produced in different regions. These were then applied to the companies’ production quantities as calculated by the IFCN dairy research network.

The report found emissions from the big companies rose from 306 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent in 2015, to 338 million metric tons in 2017. The most recent data available shows Florida’s annual GHG emissions are 337 million metric tons a year.

More than 90% of the corporate dairy industries’ emissions are produced by the cows themselves, mostly in the form of methane. Research shows that all plant-based milk, such as soy and oat, result in far fewer emissions than dairy milk.

The Plant Milk Report, published last year by ProVeg International, reported that one liter of cow’s milk requires more than 22 times more water and roughly 12 times more land, and emits three times more greenhouse gas emissions than one liter of soy milk. Other types of plant milk such as oat and rice milk are similarly sustainable.

Notes to editor

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has stated that the livestock sector is a significant contributor to climate change. The sector is responsible for 16.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, with cattle producing 62% of livestock sector emissions, and beef and dairy cattle generating roughly equal amounts of greenhouse gases.

Worldwide, the top 5 meat and dairy corporations combined emit more greenhouse gases than the largest gasoline giants, including Exxon-Mobile, Shell, or BP.

For more information please contact:

Winona Cruzan, US Communications Manager for ProVeg International

[email protected]

+1 202 301 9547

About ProVeg International

ProVeg is an international food awareness organization with the mission to reduce global animal consumption by 50% by the year 2040. We strive for a world where everyone chooses delicious and healthy food that is good for all humans, animals, and the planet.