International dairy sector associations and IICA release publication on the essential role of dairy in sustainable food systems
San Jose, 16 April 2021 (IICA). The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in conjunction with the Global Dairy Platform (GDP) and the United States Dairy Export Council (USDEC), have released a technical publication about the critical role that dairy products play in the provision of healthy food and nutrition, as well as the socioeconomic development of countries in the Americas.
The 36-page publication, entitled Dairy’s Role in a Responsible and Sustainable Food System, aims to promote sustainable dairy production practices in the Western Hemisphere and to respond scientifically to biased opposition that criticizes the dairy sector and its production processes in the Americas. It can be downloaded here.
The document also provides robust technical information that can be used by the private sector and government, in preparation for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit. The Summit will be held at the end of September in New York to lay the groundwork for a positive transformation of global food production and consumption.
The perspectives of the specialists were compiled at a virtual event organized by IICA in August 2020, which enjoyed an online attendance of 500 participants from across the hemisphere. Speakers included the current Secretary of Agriculture of the United States, Tom Vilsack (serving then as President and CEO of USDEC); Chair of the Board of Directors of Global Dairy Platform and Dairy Producers of America, Rick Smith; and the Director General of IICA, Manuel Otero.
The meeting stressed that the global dairy industry impacts the economic livelihoods of 1 billion people—600 million on dairy farms and another 400 million in the industry—involved in either milk collection or any other associated activity.
The meeting and the publication revealed that dairy products provide many under-consumed nutrients and are a source of the highest quality proteins in the human diet. Dairy consumption is linked to a lower risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension, better bone mineral density in children and adolescents, multiple cardiovascular and muscular benefits, and improved immune function.
At the socioeconomic level, it is estimated that nearly 800 million people living in rural areas depend on cattle raising and that the livestock sector accounts for 46% of Latin America's agricultural GDP. In addition, dairy is critical in reducing poverty at the family and community level and spurring job creation.