‘Sustainability in dairy farming. Think green and join in’. This was the theme of 140 meetings organised by FrieslandCampina for member dairy farmers in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium in January and February. Six thousand people attended. In small discussion groups, they contributed ideas about the development of the sustainability concept for dairy farmers, the first phase of which FrieslandCampina wants to introduce on 1 January 2012. Meetings were also held about energy saving and trips were organised to dairy farms that produce sustainable energy. A video of this series of meetings is available now on YourDairy, FrieslandCampina’s YouTube channel.
Sustainability throughout the production chain for dairy products is vital to achieving development opportunities for dairy farmers and FrieslandCampina’s route2020 strategy. Important sustainability aspects for dairy farmers are energy saving and the production of sustainable energy, the health and welfare of cows, care for nature, the environment and landscape and outdoor grazing.
Bring about improvements, including technical/economic improvements
The meetings with the member dairy farmers about the sustainability concept addressed how we can show that dairy companies are already successfully implementing the various sustainability aspects and what advice and support they need to bring about improvements, including technical/economic improvements. “The approach is that it must be possible to combine an active involvement in sustainable production methods with cost control, which is also necessary given global competition. Take the health and welfare of cows, for example, when it comes to udders and hooves. This is an important sustainability aspect, and at the same time, part of the operations management that dairy farmers are heavily involved in. To achieve effective instruments that can be applied on a practical level in a wide range of business situations, the expertise and experience of our member dairy farmers are badly needed, including for application in Germany and Belgium. The input of our members is essential to the sustainability concept, with the introduction of the first phase scheduled for 1 January 2012”, said Atze Schaap, Director of Co-operative Affairs at FrieslandCampina, in an earlier statement. “The sustainability concept must help dairy farmers to focus on sustainability.”
Report of findings
The meetings took place in the 21 districts of the co-operative. Each District Council, which consists of representatives chosen by the members in that district, prepares a report of findings during the discussion with members in its own district. Members in a district can examine the report of the District Council. The reports of the 21 District Councils constitute the overall report, covering the entire field of operations of the FrieslandCampina co-operative. This overall report is important for the practical development of the sustainability concept.
In addition to the 140 meetings planned by FrieslandCampina with its own members, representatives of FrieslandCampina have also recently attended other events to discuss sustainability with dairy farmers. For example, on the evening of Wednesday, 2 March, FrieslandCampina Chairman, Kees Wantenaar, was in Heerenveen at the meeting of the ‘Engaged member platform’, a group of FrieslandCampina dairy farmers that is critical of how FrieslandCampina is conducting the sustainability debate and the weight that the Board is giving to outdoor grazing. Board member, Wunnekink, spoke at meetings of the cattle feed co-operative, ForFarmers, and Jan-Willem Straatsma, Manager of Sustainable Dairy Farming, attended a sustainability day organised by the ZLTO agricultural organisation.
Pilot for prototype
Based on ideas put forward by the dairy farmers, a prototype of the sustainability concept will be developed in the spring and piloted in the summer. At the end of the summer, the Board will announce the detailed proposals for the first phase of the sustainability concept to take effect on 1 January 2012. This first phase will be discussed with the members of the co-operative in the autumn of 2011, after which a decision will be made.