By Toren Elste | Dec 2, 2015

Did you know that there are nearly 500 dairy farms in Washington state?  According to the Department of Agriculture, milk is the No. 2 agricultural commodity in Washington, produced by both small and large scale farming operations. One UW student is working to learn how to make dairy production sustainable across the state.

Heather Fower, a PhD student in the School of Public Health's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, recently received a Bullitt Environmental Fellowship, which will allow Fowler to tackle issues in sustainable dairy farming.

Concentrated feeding operations, where large populations of dairy cows are kept in a location, have grown in number as a cheap and efficient production option but it has also raised concerns about the health of the animals and the impact on the environment. The $100,000 fellowship will allow Fowler to look at dairy practices in Washington, both conventional and organic, and look at issues regarding human, animal and environmental health. She'll interview a wide range of people, including farmers, veterinarians, consumers and environmentalists, to see where they think the dairy industry is going and their concerns. She believes dairy products can best be produced using a "One Health" approach, making sure its healthy for people, the animals, and the environment.

"This work will ultimately culminate in the creation of a One Health model for sustainable agriculture in Washington State," Fowler said. “My hope is that this can help educate consumers about where their food is coming from and what are the health implications of how we produce the food,” she said.

UW sustainability is interested in where her research will take us as consumers and we’re excited to keep you updated with Dr. Fowler’s current research findings!

Thanks to the DEOHS newsletter for supplying information for this post!

Photo by Flickr user Jenny Ingram

Toren’s tidbits are blog posts by UWS Events and Outreach Specialist, Toren Elste. Toren will share things she’s passionate about, Everything from green office highlights to paper reduction tips, green event resources, ocean conservation, sustainable food and SO much more!