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Dan Rice, Prairieland Dairy, Firth, NE

Four families came together, and brought their cows together, to form Prairieland Dairy. One owner, Dan Rice, says the partnership helps Prairieland meet changing market demands and keeps the farms in their families for the next generation.

Founded in 1998, Prairieland Dairy, located in Firth, Nebraska, has adopted a multipronged approach that includes understanding and embracing social, economic and environmental impacts. The family farm operation has created a model with sustainability at its core — a farm that will thrive for generations to come.

Prairieland sits just 20 miles outside of Lincoln, so a big part of meeting market demand is community relations. Rice and his business partners embrace the community, whether it is through farm visits, selling dairy products and compost, or supporting local producers. By working together, Prairieland Dairy has not only stimulated the local economy and provided environmental benefits through composting and renewable energy but also significantly increased community awareness of the dairy industry's sustainability efforts.

Best Practices

Sustainable Facility Design

Prairieland's facilities were built to be efficient and low-impact while making sure the cows could be as comfortable as possible. Automatic cooling, waste management and pest control systems, as well as water reuse, geothermal heating/air-conditioning reduces environmental impact by using less energy and water and drives cost savings of more than $200,000.

Composting

The Prairieland Gold composting site collects manure, community yard waste and food waste to provide 20,000 tons of compost per year. The compost is used on the farm and sold to the local and regional community for landscaping and greenhouses. In addition to diverting waste from the landfill, composting on-site reduces Prairieland's trucking needs by 75 percent.

Small Steps Add Up

These efforts at Prairieland Dairy, when combined with responsible dairy producers across the country, can really add up to create a more sustainable future for communities, business and the planet.

WWF and the Innovation Center for US Dairy are working together with dairy producers to share science-based practices and encourage stewards like Rice to develop and adopt sustainability practices in their operations.

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