Dairy industry aims at nutrition, social aspects of UN sustainable goals

By Megan Tyminski

DES MOINES, Iowa – The dairy industry is positioned to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development goals and aims to contribute more to community development and nutrition.

“Without food and nutrition security we will not be able to achieve [U.N.] sustainable development goals,” Greg Miller, global chief science officer for the National Dairy Council said during a session at the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium.

The Dairy and the Sustainable Development Goals report said environmental and economic factors are often emphasized more than social issues in market development. The dairy sector already contributes to U.N. initiatives with school milk programs that provide daily nutrition, but sees opportunities to source milk more locally. Other goals are best practices related to animal care, biodiversity, soil and water quality, greenhouse gas emissions and waste.

Lauren Landis, director of nutrition for the World Food Programme, focuses on putting nutritious food into communities, citing milk as an important component. This is especially true for small-holder farmers that can raise animals.

“You give them a cow and all of the sudden you have nutrition 365 days per year,” Miller said.

Until the marketplace is ready for growth, the private industry sector hopes for business leadership to accelerate development.

“We actually have to start to talk to one another,” Chris Policinski, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, said to NGOs, government and other stakeholders at the Borlaug Dialogue discussion.

Catholic Relief Services trains couples in African communities on nutritious shopping habits. The organization works to build advocates that can help influence policy. Mary Hennigan, senior technical advisor of nutrition at CRS, said collaborating with the private sector has potential.

Further collaboration was also encouraged by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, speaker at the session.

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