New quality system for member dairy farmers

2 October 2009

On 1 January 2010, FrieslandCampina will be launching a new quality system for its member dairy farmers. Encompassing the themes of ‘milk’, ‘cow’, ‘production process’ and ‘environment’, the system offers dairy farmers transparency on standards and rules when it comes to the quality of their milk and their business operations. There will be few substantive changes from 2010. This autumn, FrieslandCampina will be discussing the structure of the new system and the substantive changes needed at the member meetings with the member dairy farmers. In 2010, FrieslandCampina will be holding talks with the members about including voluntary, optional points in the quality system. The new quality system is aimed at the members in the Netherlands; for the member dairy farmers in Germany and Belgium, FrieslandCampina will be tying in with equivalent national systems, such as QM-Milch and IKM.

“In close cooperation with a focus group of dairy farmers and with the representatives of our members, we deliberately chose to set up a new forward-looking quality system, only making the most essential changes. These are changes that stem from the merger, from amended legislation or programmes that are already up and running. Overall, we haven’t made the quality requirements any tougher. We don’t need to. The quality of the milk supplied by our dairy farmers is excellent and the same is true of their businesses operations”, explains Atze Schaap, director of Co-operative Affairs at FrieslandCampina.

Structure of quality system, measurement and performance
Standards and regulations apply to each of the quality areas of ‘milk’, ‘cow’, ‘production process’ and ‘environment’. Examples include the quality aspects of the milk supplied, the operation and design of milking equipment, the health of the cows and the quality of water and feed. FrieslandCampina’s voluntary outdoor grazing programme will also be incorporated into the quality system from 1 January 2010.
The score awarded to a dairy farmer on the various quality themes is calculated by testing the milk and assessing the dairy farmer’s business operations. The combined scores of the various quality themes will determine how well a business has performed. From 1 January 2010, FrieslandCampina will have four categories: ‘Excellent’, ‘Good’, ‘Occasionally poor’ and ‘Consistently poor’. How often milk is tested differs for each quality aspect and depends partly on the quality performance. How often the business operations are assessed also depends on the quality of the performance.

Harmonisation: animal health monitor and external testing of insurance of feed supplier
“Where some substantive areas were concerned, we had to make a choice between the approach of either the former Friesland Foods or the former Campina”, explains Schaap.
One example of this is the continuous animal health monitor (CDM), which appears under the theme ‘cow’ for all FrieslandCampina members in the Netherlands. CDM is a ‘continuous’ monitoring of animal health based on existing data about the health of animals. The system was developed with dairy farmers and animal health experts and provides cattle farmers with a wealth of practical information to monitor animal health. Currently, 5,500 dairy farmers of the former Friesland Foods are already using CDM.
In addition, under the theme ‘production process’, the external testing of insurance policies of animal feed businesses will become the standard for all members in the Netherlands. From 2010, member dairy farmers will only be allowed to buy feed from suppliers that appear on FrieslandCampina’s list. Companies on this list have had their insurance policy checked and approved by an independent expert. Without imposing an administrative burden on the dairy farmer, this provides a guarantee of liability if a disaster should occur with feed contamination. Former Campina already operated this system. As a result, members of the former Friesland Foods will no longer be required to enter into a contract with each feed supplier.

What’s planned for 2010?
FrieslandCampina wants to organise the quality system in such a way that there are basic points that apply to all dairy farmers and operational points for which compliance is optional. Schaap: “As FrieslandCampina, we support all our 16,000 members, but we also want to offer our members, and therefore FrieslandCampina, the option of individual choice. Some will stick to the minimum standards (the basis), while others will opt to do more. That’s why we’ll be talking to our members in 2010 about incorporating the optional points into our quality system.”