Sustainability approach to dairy farming launched

14 December 2011

1 January 2012 marks the start of the sustainability programme for dairy farming, which the Board of the dairy co-operative Zuivelcoöperatie FrieslandCampina U.A. discussed this autumn with the member dairy farmers. The formal approval of the applicable regulations has been granted. Key to the sustainability approach is the support and encouragement of dairy farmers to make their business operations even more sustainable. This will often go hand-in-hand with technical and economic improvements. In addition, the outdoor grazing premium will be raised to EUR 0.50 per 100 kilos of milk (currently EUR 0.05) with effect from 2012.

The dairy farming sustainability programme is one of the pillars of FrieslandCampina’s sustainability policy, which is an essential part of the route2020 strategy. FrieslandCampina aims to recoup its investments in the sustainable dairy farming programme in the market. For example, the company plans to expand the range of outdoor grazing dairy products for which it commands a higher price.

Sustainability and quality
Exchanging know-how in workshops, learning farms and via the internet lie at the heart of the dairy farming sustainability programme. Foqus planet, the name given to this programme, has been developed together with the dairy farmers over the past year. The elements of the programme have been integrated into the existing quality control system for the dairy farmers, thus creating a single integrated approach for quality, food safety and sustainability.

Dairy farmers must score a number of extra points in the field of sustainability in order to achieve a particular performance level in Foqus planet. The farmer himself/herself determines how these points are scored, choosing from a wide range of options such as energy-saving measures (pre-cooler, heat recovery system), attending a workshop on animal health or allowing their cows to graze outdoors.

Member consultation
In recent months, the Board of the co-operative has discussed this structure extensively with the member dairy farmers. The Board members have met with more than 7,800 members and business associates in over 80 meetings spanning the co-operative’s operations in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

Based on practical incentives submitted by the dairy farmers, the proposals have been amended to a limited extent and documented in formal regulations. These regulations were adopted by the Board, following advice from the chairmen of the 21 districts of the co-operative. As a consequence, FrieslandCampina is working hard to develop workshops, web advice and other guidance, which dairy farmers are expected to be able to use from the end of January.

Outdoor grazing
FrieslandCampina is encouraging the development of outdoor grazing by introducing a financial scheme as well. The outdoor grazing premium will be increased to 50 euro cents per 100 kilos of milk (currently 5 euro cents) with effect from 2012 for companies who allow their dairy cows to graze outdoors for at least six hours a day, 120 days a year.

For dairy farmers who do not meet the standards for ‘meadow milk’ (from cows who graze outdoors), but who allow a quarter of their herd to graze outdoors on at least 120 days a year, there will be a ‘partial outdoor grazing’ rule. A comprehensive advisory programme will be available so that a well-considered assessment can be made about applying the outdoor grazing rule.
The outdoor grazing regulation and the milk payment regulation, which sets out the partial outdoor grazing payment, have been amended. Last week, in accordance with the Articles of Association, the Board adopted both regulations. And today, the Member Council of Zuivelcoöperatie FrieslandCampina U.A., which is made up of 210 members from the 21 districts, approved the changes to the milk payment regulation.