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South Dakota Dairies Set Green Record

South Dakota Dairies Set Green Record

State's milk producers have the smallest carbon footprint in the nation, says SDSU Extension dairy specialist.

In the first quarter of 2010, South Dakota ranked 17th nationally in milk production per cow, 24th in total number of dairy cows, and 22nd in overall milk produced.

"But during the same time period, South Dakota was 5th in milk production per person, trailing only Idaho, Wisconsin, Vermont, and New Mexico," says Alvaro Garcia, SDSU Extension dairy specialist. "What's significant is that the state accomplished this with the fewest number of cows per person among all five states."

Using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Garcia calculated the cows-per-person numbers for each of the leading dairy states. Idaho's was 0.36 per person, Wisconsin, 0.22 per person, Vermont was 0.22 per person, and New Mexico 0.16 per person.

South Dakota tallied a nation-leading 0.11 cows-per-person mark.

This is a milestone, Garcia says.

 "In other words, it took Idaho more than three times as many cows as South Dakota to produce similar amounts of milk on a per-person basis. This is significant from an environmental perspective as South Dakota cows compete less for resources, and they have the lowest impact per capita on the environment of all five states."

South Dakota produces the least amount of carbon dioxide equivalents per cow – 6.7 pounds.

In Idaho, the figure is 22 pounds, Wisconsin and Vermont tie with 13.4 pounds, and New Mexico's figure is 9.8 pounds.

"South Dakota has been able to achieve this success by adopting modern dairy production technologies," Garcia says.

Source: SDSU AgBio Communications

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