FrieslandCampina, Rabobank and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have joined forces to help dairy farmers in the restoration and conservation of nature. Together with farmers, they will map out the measures taken by the dairy farming sector in order to protect biodiversity. A new method has been developed for this: the biodiversity monitor. This shows in one glance the performances of the dairy farmers with respect to nature. This unique approach will be implemented as from next year and further developed in practice.
The intention is that dairy farmers who are demonstrably performing well will receive recognition for this by means of, for example, favourable interest rates at the bank. This autumn, members of FrieslandCampina will decide whether the biodiversity monitor will be included in Foqus planet, the sustainability and quality programme of FrieslandCampina within which member dairy farmers are rewarded for their contributions to sustainability by means of a bonus-malus scheme.
Nature as a basis
Dairy farming covers two-thirds of the Dutch land area and this makes it the largest habitat for flora and fauna. Many dairy farmers are already committed to meadow birds, farmland nature and reducing the impact on the environment. However, they can only take those measures when these are financially feasible and fit in with their business operations. This is difficult in view of the heavily fluctuating milk prices.
According to the parties, rewarding and recognising dairy farmers is the ultimate way to bring back nature on the farmland and to make the business more resilient. After all, dairy farmers can also benefit from nature themselves. Farmers are dependent on fertile soil, sufficient and clean water and minerals. Fertile soil and more balanced management of grassland are essential for this. Therefore FrieslandCampina, Rabobank and the WWF have joined forces to lay the basis for revenue models that can be developed in the chain and that make a contribution to a better future for both nature and dairy farmers.
The biodiversity monitor measures the performance at the entire farm. This is different from agricultural nature management, which consists of separate measures, such as mowing later for the benefit of the meadow birds. The biodiversity monitor shows the farmer the positive effects of the measures on the landscape, meadow birds and other farmland types, as well as which approach leads to healthy soil and reduces the emission of greenhouse gases. Besides, the dairy farmers can see which measures work out favourably for their businesses.
Sustainability at dairy farms
The biodiversity monitor will be fit in with the business operations at the dairy farm of as many as possible enthusiastic dairy farmers as from next year. One way to stimulate the preservation of biodiversity at dairy farms and to make this clearly visible is to include the biodiversity monitor in Foqus planet. This option will be discussed in the cooperative in the year 2017. The Sustainable Dairy Chain intends to start making use of the monitor. The Sustainable Dairy Chain is a common initiative of the Dutch Dairy Association (NZO) and the Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture (LTO Nederland) and is part of chain organisation ZuivelNL.
The objective is to eventually make more parties join in, such as lessors, district water boards, provinces and the government. They can also use the biodiversity monitor to reward farmers who are performing well with, for example, a lower rental price or lower costs. Therefore the three initiators want in due time place the biodiversity monitor in an independent organisation, enabling as many parties as possible to use it to stimulate nature restoration.
For the complete message (in Dutch) and more information go to biodiversiteitsmonitorwebsite.