Dairy Farmers of America Purchases First Verified Carbon Credits in Livestock Inset Marketplace


Source: Elanco

New Marketplace Creates New Value Stream for Dairy Producers and Demonstrates that Cattle Can be Part of the Sustainability Solution

KANSAS CITY AND INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (January 3, 2024) – Athian (athian.ai) announced today the first sale of verified carbon credits in the groundbreaking livestock carbon insetting marketplace to Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the largest U.S. milk marketing cooperative. Texas dairy farmer Jasper DeVos utilized Athian’s first accepted protocol to generate carbon credits by reducing enteric methane and improving feed utilization through use of an innovative feed management product and quantification tool from Elanco Animal Health (NYSE:ELAN), resulting in nearly 1,150 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) reduction. If the entire U.S. dairy industry leveraged this same intervention, it could avoid 4.7 million metric tons of CO2e emissions annually from enteric, feed and manure emissions, accelerating the impact animal agriculture has in being part of the climate solution.

DFA is proud to lead the way as the first U.S. dairy cooperative to establish a science-based target (SBT) with the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the supply chain by 30% by 2030. As part of an industry-wide collaboration on environmental sustainability through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, DFA is a key contributor to the dairy industry’s commitment to become greenhouse gas neutral or better by 2050.

“Dairy farmers raise their families and their herds on the same land. They have always been the true stewards of the land, the air and water and, as a result, have been consistently reducing their carbon footprint, year in and year out, decade after decade. However, the necessary systems have not been in place to quantify their tremendous environmental progress in a manner that would compensate for the ongoing investments they have made over generations. The marketplace can now finally allow farmers to realize financial benefits from their initiatives,” said Dennis Rodenbaugh, President and CEO, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a cooperative owned by nearly 11,000 family dairy farmers across the country. “We’re gratified to see this science-based, third-party verified and validated system coming to life with the Athian platform and that dairy farmers are among the first to prove it works. The dairy industry has been positioned to rapidly advance progress. By working within the value chain on an insetting approach with the companies we work with every day, and now farmers can directly benefit.”

The Future Opportunity

This new carbon market opportunity comes at a critical time. Farm sector income, including dairy, is forecasted to have decreased by more than 20% in 2023.1 This new marketplace creates a scalable opportunity for farmers to earn money for their sustainability efforts while accelerating tangible impact on emissions reduction when it’s needed. Dairy farmers of all sizes now have the opportunity to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, quantify and validate their reductions and sell the resulting credits in Athian’s livestock carbon insetting marketplace.

“Finally, farmers are getting access to the tools we need to accelerate the adoption of conservation practices and supplement income on the farm, which will allow us to reinvest in our farm’s stewardship efforts and contribute to the operation’s financial health for the next generation,” said Jasper DeVos, Texas dairy farmer and DFA farmer-owner. “The Athian platform is a critical step in ensuring dairy farmers of all sizes can be recognized and rewarded for the investment we are making towards a healthier environment.”

The insetting model developed by Athian benefits farmers, the environment and meets the growing consumer demand for sustainable choices. A recent report from the global Food and Agriculture Organization recognized both the need for more animal protein production to address global hunger and nutrient deficiencies, while also reducing emissions. In livestock, 9 measures are set out that aim to reduce methane emissions in 2030 by 25%, and for productivity for livestock to grow by 1.7% per year globally by 2050.2

“It’s exciting to see the full value chain come together to accelerate climate progress,” said Paul Myer, CEO of Athian. “Athian’s carbon credit marketplace is different than the traditional offsetting carbon marketplaces because it keeps the value inside of the animal protein value chain and allows each participant to gain unique value from the transaction. The farmer is able to create a new revenue stream, the food companies who have had challenges meeting their Scope 3 emissions reductions are able to make significant progress and ultimately, we’re able to mark progress against aggressive global goals.”

Elanco and other experts have conducted extensive studies to find opportunities for reduction of both methane and feed resources. Rumensin® (monensin Type A medicated article) is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase milk production efficiency (production of marketable solids-corrected milk per unit of feed intake) in dairy cows. When implementing Rumensin to increase milk production efficiency, carbon emissions are reduced by approximately .5 metric tons per year per dairy cow depending on each individual farm’s animals and management.3By following the Rumensin protocol, dairy farmers will be eligible to verify they have both reduced enteric methane emissions and reduction in feed utilization in their operations and then sell those greenhouse gas reductions as credits on Athian’s open carbon marketplace. The Rumensin protocol has been through a third-party validation process and was reviewed by the Athian Scientific Advisory Board, a group of leading environmental researchers who specialize in greenhouse gas emissions reductions. As new innovations are brought to market, the CO2e avoidance could double in the next year.4

“Making sure environmental sustainability is grounded in farmer profitability has been a key priority for Elanco,” said Katie Cook, Vice President of Farm Animal Health at Elanco, a seed funder of Athian. “Long-term, there is potential for more than $200 million of value for the U.S. dairy industry if the entire industry leveraged this intervention. And the environmental and reputational value could be the equivalent of taking more than 1.5 million cars off of the road annually. This progress creates a pathway for climate-neutral farming to happen this decade.”

Enteric methane reduction carbon credits are now available for purchase through Athian’s insetting carbon marketplace. Visit www.athian.ai to learn more and connect directly with Athian.

About Athian

Athian’s key mission is to help the beef and dairy value chains capture and claim carbon credits earned through sustainability efforts by aggregating, verifying, and certifying greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, and monetizing those reductions for the producer through the sale of carbon insetting credits.  Athian’s platform is an industry-based analytics tool that provides quality greenhouse gas credits that fund livestock producers’ sustainability measures. Athian is a High Alpha Innovation company based in Indianapolis, Ind. Learn how to join us in this effort at www.Athian.ai.

About Elanco

Elanco Animal Health Incorporated (NYSE: ELAN) is a global leader in animal health dedicated to innovating and delivering products and services to prevent and treat disease in farm animals and pets, creating value for farmers, pet owners, veterinarians, stakeholders and society as a whole. With nearly 70 years of animal health heritage, we are committed to helping our customers improve the health of animals in their care, while also making a meaningful impact on our local and global communities. At Elanco, we are driven by our vision of Food and Companionship Enriching Life and our Elanco Healthy Purpose– all to advance the health of animals, people, the planet and our enterprise.

About DFA

Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) is a national, farmer-owned dairy cooperative focusing on quality, innovation and the future of family dairies. While supporting and serving more than 11,000 family farm-owners, DFA manufactures nearly every form, function and flavor of nutritional dairy products, including fluid milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, dairy ingredients and more that connect our Cooperative’s family farms to family tables with regional brands such as Alta Dena® Dairy, Meadow Gold® Dairy, Friendly®’s, Borden® Cheese, Plugrá® Premium Butter and Kemps® to name a few. On a global scale, we work with some of the world’s leading food companies to develop ingredients that deliver the greatest source of nutrition to consumers around the world, while staying committed to social responsibility and ethical farming. For more information, please visit dfamilk.com.

How The Process Works

  • Innovation Intervention: As a leading global animal health company, Elanco Animal Health develops sustainability tools and solutions, including feed management products, such as Rumensin®, (monensin Type A medicated article). Rumensin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase milk production efficiency (production of marketable solids-corrected milk per unit of feed intake) in dairy cows. When implementing Rumensin to increase milk production efficiency, carbon emissions are reduced by approximately .5 metric tons per year per dairy cow depending on each individual farm’s animals and management.5 Elanco is working on a pipeline of products intended to reduce cows’ methane emissions by as much as 30% or more.
  • Farm Footprint: Dairy farmers, including DeVos, are committed to improving their operations’ environmental footprint. DeVos used a quantification  tool called UpLookTM to track progress of his sustainability efforts and his greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
  • Third-party Verification: Dairy farmers, like DeVos, are able to participate  in a third-party verification process through Athian that certifies the farm’s avoided greenhouse gas emissions and creates a carbon credit.
  • Credit Sale: The resulting carbon credits are then offered for sale in Athian’s livestock carbon insetting marketplace to companies in the dairy value chain, like DFA or downstream CPG companies. These companies can purchase the credits to help reach their Scope 3 emissions reduction goals.
  • Value: With the purchase of these credits, economic value is returned to the farmer via the sale. Companies are able to count these reductions as progress towards their environmental and sustainability commitments instead of other industries using them as an offset.

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1. USDA ERS – Farm Sector Income Forecast

2. FAO COP 28 – Roadmap

3. Elanco Data on File

4. Elanco Data on File

5. Elanco Data on File