Caring Dairy: A Sustainable Dairy Farming Initiative In Europe
Interest in the concept of sustainability in dairy farming has grown as a result of the continuous pressure on farm incomes, occurrence of animal diseases with a major impact on the image of dairy farming, concerns about animal welfare, and environmental problems caused by agriculture. There are, however, still many gaps in the knowledge regarding sustainable dairy farming. Respecting the earth and the environment and ‘giving back to community’ is a fully integrated part of the Mission Statement of ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s. Following this mission, they have initiated a sustainable dairy farming project, ‘Caring Dairy’, for the European production based in the Netherlands. The aim of Caring Dairy is to secure dairy production in a more sustainable way and to develop guidelines for Sustainable Dairy Farming Practices (SDFP). The approach of Caring Dairy is based on Unilever’s sustainable agriculture approach. At this moment 11 dairy farmers participate in Caring Dairy and a baseline measurement for all 11 indicators (soil fertility and health, soil loss, nutrients, pest management, biodiversity, energy, water, farm economics, social human capital, local economy and animal welfare) has been done from where improvement plans, both on a strategic and indicator specific level, have been developed tailored to the specific situation and priorities of the individual farmers. An iterative process of implementation of the improvement plans, measurement, analysis and re-adjusting the plans will lead ultimately to the guidelines for SDFP. Caring Dairy shows the innovation power of supply chains by the bottom-up development of good dairy farming practices in cooperation with all relevant supply chain partners, which goes beyond existing initiatives related to sustainability in the dairy sector.
Keywords: Sustainability, Dairy farming, Strategic management, Bottom-up approach, Chain partners.