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A Dairy Farm’s Environmental Footprint:
Evaluating the Impacts of Conventional and Organic Farming Systems

Added December 2, 2010.

Author(s): Charles Benbrook,, Cory Carman, E. Ann Clark, Cindy Daley, Wendy Fulwider, Michael Hansen, Guy Jodarski, Carlo Leifert, Klaas Martens, Laura Paine, Lisa Petkewitz, Francis Thicke, Juan Velez, Gary Wegner

Conventional and organic dairy farm systems differ in many respects, and in particular steps taken by to maximize milk production versus promoting cow health. 

This report quantifies the significant tradeoffs inherent in managing for production versus managing for cow health and milk quality. 

A team of dairy specialists worked with TOC to build the “Shades of Green” (SOG) dairy farm calculator used to make the projections summarized in this report. 

The Center is providing, free of charge, via www.organic-center.org/SOG_Home the SOG calculator, the full results of the COFEF application of SOG, and a 100-page report providing detailed documentation and user instructions for the SOG calculator. 

This report provides the first comprehensive analysis of the environmental footprint of alternative dairy farm management systems based on a fully described and freely disclosed, operational model. 

The principal funding for the development of the SOG calculator and this report was provided by a grant from the Packard Foundation.