Ben & Jerry's Pilot Project Plans to Cut Dairy Farm GHG Emissions to Half of Industry Average by 2024

"Project Mootopia" to tackle climate change through seaweed supplements, manure management & more 

BURLINGTON, Vt. , May 9, 2022  /PRNewswire/ -- Ben & Jerry's is making a bold commitment to bring greenhouse gas emissions on 15 dairy farms to half the industry average by the end of 2024. Once proven, pilot project initiatives will be expanded to farms across Ben & Jerry's global dairy supply chain.  

"This approach to dairy farming could be a game changer," said Jenna Evans, Global Sustainability Manager for Ben & Jerry's. "It has the potential to make a meaningful reduction in emissions on dairy farms and help fight the worst effects of climate change. All of us, especially businesses, must take action before it's too late and the climate crisis makes our world uninhabitable."  

Experience the interactive Multichannel News Release here:

This digestor on a family farm in Spierdijk, Netherlands turns manure into gas--enough to power eight neighboring houses. Photo: Yaron Bindels

Dairy ingredients account for more than 50% of Ben & Jerry's total greenhouse gas emissions, so the company is focusing on dairy farms as the best opportunity to reduce its carbon footprint. "Project Mootopia," as the pilot has been dubbed, will use regenerative agricultural practices and new technology to address: 

  • Enteric emissions—managing methane-producing cow burps through a high-quality forage diet and innovative rumen modifiers that act as a digestive aid.
  • Manure—managed through methane reduction technology such as digesters and separators, which reduce the need for commercial fertilizer.
  • Feed crops— using regenerative practices to grow more grass and other feed crops to maintain healthy soils, increase carbon sequestration, improve the use of grassland, lower synthetic inputs, promote biodiversity, and raise the percentage of homegrown feed.

The pilot project will also promote renewable energy on dairy farms and continue Ben & Jerry's tradition of meeting high animal welfare standards. The 15 participating farms will be split between members of the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) cooperative in the US and CONO Kaasmakers in the Netherlands. 

"Too often, corporations buy up carbon offsets from somewhere else to claim they are 'carbon neutral'," said Taylor Ricketts of the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont. "Ben & Jerry's is taking a more meaningful and direct approach: attacking the systemic causes of climate change in its own supply chain to achieve measurable, Science Based Targets. As they have done so often, Ben & Jerry's is walking the talk and leading the way," Ricketts said. 

"The intensive cooperation between research, advisors and farmers is the key to developing tailored mitigation methods that are feasible, affordable and safe," said Theun Vellinga from Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. "We have constructed the 'Mitigation Engine' as a tool to combine the science around GHG mitigation with the knowledge and experience of the farmer. We cannot stick to one mitigation option only; there is no silver bullet. But a package of options will help us reach the target reduction," Vellinga said.  

Ben & Jerry's received $9.3 million to prove and scale regenerative practices on dairy farms from the Climate and Nature Fund of its parent corporation, Unilever.  With Ben & Jerry's commitment to dairy farm worker rights through Milk with Dignity, Project Mootopia is expected to help the company meet the emerging demand for delicious ice cream that is climate friendly and socially just.  

Cow burps are a major source of methane on dairy farms. Ben & Jerry's will test the effectiveness of feed additives and a high-forage diet on reducing enteric emissions. Photo: Ben & Jerry's


Tom Bellavance’s Sunset Lake Farm in Vermont will participate in Ben & Jerry’s pilot project to determine the best ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions on dairy farms. Photo: Ben & Jerry’s


Ben & Jerry’s new pilot project will look at the effect of inter-seeded biodiverse cover cropping and growing slightly fewer stalks to allow more sunlight to reach the plants. Photo: Ben & Jerry’s


Cows on eight farms in the Netherlands are participating in Ben & Jerry’s pilot project to cut carbon emissions. They will be joined by another seven farms in Vermont, US. Photo: Ben & Jerry’s


Sunset Lake Farm in Alburgh, VT is participating in Ben & Jerry’s Project Mootopia. The farm is reducing its energy costs and carbon footprint by using solar panels on the barn. Photo: Ben & Jerry’s


Cision View original content:

SOURCE Ben & Jerry's