A number of global agricultural companies have united to form an alliance to support dairy farming into the future. The partnership is comprised of eight agricultural-sector leaders calling themselves Farming for Generations.
The goal for the collaboration is to “support dairy farmers to adopt regenerative agricultural practices that preserve and renew our planet’s resources, respect animal welfare and ensure the long-term economic viability of farms for the next generation.”
Led by global food-industry leader Danone, Farming for Generations draws on the expertise of leaders from the whole agricultural value chain, including animal-health and -welfare companies MSD Animal Health, Neogen and FutureCow. It also includes animal-nutrition and -health company DSM, crop-nutrition leader Yara, crop-science company Corteva Agriscience and artificial-intelligence agri-food start-up Connecterra. The Netherlands-based Wageningen University and Research, renowned for its food and food-production research, will be a research and advisory partner.
The group states that it recognizes the food system needs to change to address a range of environmental and health challenges. The alliance partners are convinced that agriculture is a solution and that dairy farming specifically has a key role to play in building the sustainable food systems of tomorrow.
The new body will initially work hand-in-hand with 25 dairy farms in the United States, the European Union and Russia to identify best-practice solutions and innovations across different farming models, farm sizes and geographies. From that research the body aims to find viable and replicable solutions. Those will be shared and scaled up within the full network of the alliance partners.
With the world’s population to hit more than 9 billion by 2050, farming and food systems need to be transformed to fit the future. Farming for Generations states it realizes consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental and social impacts of food choices. New scientific studies are working to define “sustainable diets” that can provide healthy and nutritious food to the growing world population while respecting environmental limits.
Regenerative agriculture has a lead role to play in delivering that ambition by protecting soil, water and biodiversity, by respecting animal welfare, and empowering farmers. Yann Gael Rio, vice-president of milk and farming at Danone, said, “Regenerative agriculture is a solution to many of the environmental and health challenges we face today. Farming for Generations brings together expertise along the whole agricultural value chain with the collective know-how of farmers.
“This will ensure any solutions and innovations are tried and tested on the ground, capable of delivering real impact at scale and helping to build the sustainable food systems of tomorrow.”
U.S. dairy farmer Brock Peters, based in Ohio, is participating in the project.
“Farming for Generations has the appropriate balance of skills, knowledge, perspective and global reach to assist farmers of all sizes and in all locations in advancing their farms’ efficiency and sustainability,” he said. “It’s unprecedented to have so many leading experts working toward this shared vision for dairy farming. Our role as farmers will be to serve as a sounding board to ensure practices are applicable and pragmatic, and shared in a way so that they can be quickly adopted.”
Farming for Generations states it will help identify and scale up solutions across the farming system – growing animal feed, choosing the best animals for breeding programs, nurturing and rearing animals, and producing milk. It will explore regenerative agricultural practices that seek to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, protect soil and biodiversity, and provide the best-quality feed for dairy cows. It will also support animal health and well-being, ensuring cows have a healthy stress-free life. It will empower farmers with workable solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges.
During the next three years, the alliance will gather cross-sector insights, refine best practices and develop new approaches, which will be shared in a practical toolbox. Farmers will be involved each step of the way, ensuring that practices are viable and suited to local customs and geographic specificities.