An Environmental Article from

The Environmental Impacts of Dairy 2024

March 2024

Four main significant environmental impacts are examined in turn here: land use, deforestation, and the impact on biodiversity; water use and degradation; compromised air quality; and contribution to global climate change. Although each impact is examined separately, it is important to keep in mind that the environmental impacts of dairy production are often interconnected.

milking carousel
A large milking carousel on an industrial dairy farm

The production of animal products, including dairy, has become increasingly industrialized and consolidated. The second half of the 20th century saw increasing expansion, industrialization, and corporate concentration in the meat, egg, and dairy industries in Canada and the United States in particular. Many small, family-run farms unable to compete with the large agribusiness companies have been pushed out of business. There is a perception that these larger companies have triumphed because they are more efficient; they can appear efficient because many of their costs—environmental impacts chief among them—are externalized (see Fitzgerald 2015).

The environmental impacts of dairy production are many, and they are increasingly receiving the attention of researchers, the general public, and the industry. Illustrative of the latter, the Dairy Farmers of Canada recently announced in their 2019-2020 annual report that they are undertaking an extensive marketing campaign focused on environmental sustainability. They write, “environmental sustainability is front and centre with our consumers and is something inhere to dairy farmers! The ongoing development of the proAction environment module will help better support providing that story to consumers” (p. 35)

The following information is intended to provide the average member of the general public with the information they need to properly contextualize this ‘story.’ Marketing is indeed powerful, but the antidote can be found in knowledge, which is essential for making informed decisions.


Please read the ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE, including these interconnected issues:

  • land use
  • deforestation
  • impact on biodiversity
  • water use and degradation
  • compromised air quality
  • contribution to global climate change

dairy impacts
The destruction of ecosystems and biodiversity

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