Farmers are often tagged as the "original environmentalists." In order to make the most of their land, farmers need to make sure it gets the proper care and attention it deserves. This includes monitoring nutrient levels in the soil, managing runoff to ensure proper water quality levels, and so much more. In the Southeast, in particular, our standards for these measurements are even tougher to meet than most areas around the country.
Other ways our farmers are working to reduce their environmental impact include utilizing byproducts in their feed. Things like almond hulls, citrus peels, brewer's grain, and more would wind up in landfills if not utilized in feed for dairy cattle.
When measuring the carbon footprint of a gallon of milk, it has already dropped 19% from where it was just ten years ago, but dairy farmers are not easily satisfied. The industry has set a goal to become carbon neutral or better by 2050.
Beyond just preserving our natural resources, building sustainable agriculture means keeping our people involved, engaged, enriched, and energized. We need to give our employees the resources to grow. We need to provide a fresh, wholesome, and delicious product to feed a growing population. We need to ensure our rural communities not only stay alive but thrive. We contribute by donating to food banks, sponsoring local events, serving on local boards, volunteering in different organizations, and a variety of other community involvement opportunities.
SMI and its members are committed to providing our people a safe and prosperous working environment, enriching our local communities by giving back, and focusing on creating the highest quality product we can for the consumer.
An often underserved piece of sustainable agriculture is the focus on profitability. If a business cannot afford to pay its bills, it is not sustainable. While Southeast Milk is committed to preserving the environment and developing its people, we cannot overlook profitability.
Agriculture plays a significant role in the development of our rural economies. Not only do our farms create jobs directly on the farm, but they support equipment dealers, suppliers, veterinarians, nutritionists, feed & grain mills, vehicle dealers, and other industry partners. Any dollar paid to a farmer gets turned around again and again within their community.
Thriving and profitable farmers make thriving and profitable communities. It's as simple as that.