Earlier this year, Vander Haak Dairy in Lynden, Washington, took home the U.S. Sustainability Award for Outstanding Achievement in Renewable Energy. The dairy was recognized for its innovative processes, including Washington state’s first ever anaerobic digester – designed to convert food and animal waste into energy. While outstanding, the Vander Haak’s sustainability efforts are becoming the standard here in Washington. This sustainability award marks the 4th such honor won by a Washington dairy organization since the program began in August 2011.
Dairy producers and processors across Washington are building on their longstanding commitment to stewardship. The ongoing efforts ensure a more sustainable future and demonstrate the industry’s dedication to creating healthy products, healthy communities and a healthy planet.
Skyridge Farms: Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability
Dan DeGroot, owner of Skyridge Farms in Sunnyside, Washington, made upgrades to focus on cow comfort, employee safety and farm profitability. In the process, the dairy has become more efficient and benefited from cost savings. Skyridge Farms utilizes a programmable energy management system and occupancy sensors to use less water and energy on the farm. The system ensures that the lighting, fans, soakers and flush systems operate automatically, cutting energy usage by 20 percent across the five free-stall barns each year --and allowing farm employees to concentrate on cow comfort measures. Skyridge Farms also converts animal waste into quality cow bedding, eliminating the 600 truckloads of straw previously needed. The efforts of Skyridge Farms are easily replicated and benefit the cows, the dairy, its employees and the environment.
Darigold, Inc.: Award for Outstanding Dairy Processing and Manufacturing Sustainability
Darigold is a major dairy processor in Washington and other northwest states and is constantly working to reduce emissions while delivering a natural, nutritious quality product. To do so, Darigold installed GPS software on its delivery trucks that allow drivers to communicate about discrepancies in route and delivery times, reducing fuel use and promoting proper handling of dairy products; they also have new refrigeration units that use 70 percent less energy than the previous systems. All in all, Darigold’s work in analyzing delivery logistics alone has saved more than 216,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year.
Werkhoven Dairy: Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability
Brothers Jim and Andy Werkhoven of Werkhoven Dairy in Monroe, Washington, created unique partnerships with energy companies and a local Tribal Nation to help benefit the dairy, the community and the environment. The Werkhovens have been working in conjunction with Qualco Energy to use the farm’s digester to recycle food and animal waste to create and sell electricity to Snohomish PUD. The Werkhovens also share their post-digested liquid fertilizer with their crop-growing neighbors, minimizing the need for commercial fertilizer delivery and associated fuel cost as well as environmental impacts.
The Dairy Farmers of Washington are a group of hardworking family farmers who produce wholesome, nutritious and safe dairy products through a commitment to caring for their animals, the environment and the community. They continue to honor a long tradition of service to their communities and are paving the way for dairy sustainability across the nation with their dedication to developing innovative and efficient food production methodologies.