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A tractor in a treelined field

What is Environmental Sustainability?

Sustainability is about preserving the land and local environment to ensure that future generations of farmers and their families have the resources they need to produce milk for consumers.

Caring for our cows

There are plenty of ethical and compassionate reasons to treat dairy cattle with care and respect. It’s also been proven that happy, healthy cows produce more milk. That’s one more reason our farmers make their cows’ comfort, contentment and good health a priority on
the farm.

A farmer gently examines a cow's head
A young girl drinks milk from a glass

How do we benefit from environmental sustainability?

Our farmers’ respect for the environment is part of a commitment that contributes to the maintenance of the high standards of the milk they produce. It helps guarantee that Ontarians can enjoy dairy products that meet or exceed the same standards in the future. Transparency in our processes, as exemplified by the proAction program, also help engender confidence in the dairy sector, among consumers, processors and trading partners alike.

The proAction initiative was spearheaded by Dairy Farmers of Canada and their members. It consists of six modules, each of which helps dairy farmers demonstrate to customers how they ensure milk quality and safety, and exercise conscientious stewardship of their animals and the environment.

Keeping our standards high

Our dairy farmers are dedicated to producing the highest quality milk, dealing with milk quality criteria every day. Dairy Farmers of Canada and provincial milk organizations like DFO also monitor quality trends, and spearhead regulatory changes to ensure Canadian milk standards remain high.


of dairy farms are licensed by provincial authorities


of dairy farms were inspected in the last 2 years


of all milk is picked up at the farm every second day

An uncompromising dedication to consumer safety

The safety of the milk and dairy Ontarians consume is of the utmost importance. Through strict testing processes and rigorous food safety practices, dairy farmers work hard every day to reduce food safety hazards and risks on their farms.

1 - 4°C

Temperature at which milk must be kept within 2 hours of milking


Temperature above which milk in the bulk tank will be rejected on grading


of farms were registered on the Canadian Quality Milk program by 2016

Keeping our animals healthy and happy

Dairy farmers take great pride in the care they provide to their animals. Healthy cows are key to producing high quality milk, after all. Through proAction's Animal Care program, Canadian dairy farmers endeavour to maintain the highest standards for animal care.


of farms take advantage of Holstein Canada’s classifying service, which includes measures of animal health and well-being

$200 million*

Amount invested annually in housing, technology and equipment to improve cow comfort by Canadian dairy farmers


The year the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle was published

Tracking the origin of every animal and every tank

The Livestock Traceability Program ensures animals are permanently identified and their origin and movements are known. This allows the industry to be prepared for and quickly respond to an emergency like a disease outbreak or food safety issue. Similarly, sampling of milk at the farm helps trace any potential issues that arise later back to the farm of origin.


The year on-farm verification of the Animal Care and Livestock Traceability requirements began


The year federal regulations governing systematic tagging of cattle came into force


of milk is sampled at the farm before transport

Minimizing the threat of infectious diseases

The Biosecurity Program is a series of practices designed to prevent, reduce or eliminate the introduction and spread of disease among livestock. Minimizing the introduction and spread of infectious diseases is good for the overall health of a herd. It can also help reduce the need for antibiotics.

2 years

frequency at which farmers must complete a Biosecurity Risk Assessment with their herd veterinarian


the year validations based on the Biosecurity for Canadian Dairy Farms: National Standard began

Preserving resources for future generations

Environmental sustainability is one of several key aspects to ensuring the longevity of Canada's dairy industry. It’s about preserving the land and local environment to ensure the future of dairy farming for the next generation of farmers and their families.


Average amount greenhouse gas emissions from Canadian dairy farms went down per year between 1990 and 2012

Water used for milk production

It takes 20 litres of water to produce 1 kg of Canadian milk – comparable to or better than other countries.

Read the proaction progress report

The 2017-2018 report was published in March 2019.

(PDF - 1.2 Mb) download
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food security


the ProAction initiative

proAction is a national program that helps Canadian dairy farmers demonstrate responsible stewardship of their animals and the environment, sustainably producing high-quality, safe and nutritious food for consumers.

Learn about proAction