Dairy Productivity Collaboration 2019: Leading Dairy Together

Volac is constantly looking at ways to positively influence the dairy industry and build on our long-established reputation as leaders and innovators.

These efforts both help us to fulfil our Purpose and demonstrate our commitment to making dairy sustainable — one of the five core themes of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programme.

In late 2017, George Eustice, the UK Farm Minister and his team, discussed the opportunity for Volac to lead a key dairy industry initiative: the UK Dairy Productivity Collaboration. Its remit is to improve dairy farm productivity by strengthening connections between dairy farmers, supply chain providers, processors, NGOs and the Government. Our work with this initiative is spearheaded by Head of Corporate Affairs, Andy Richardson, who chairs the group.

Three fundamental productivity development goals underpin the initiative:

  • Increasing the average number of cow lactations by one. This is, on average, worth £40k per farm and correlates to about half of a typical UK dairy farm’s annual profit and is roughly equivalent to the amount farmer receive in state aid every year.
  • Identifying and reducing ‘first limiting factors’ on dairy farms, as part of embedding a continuous improvement mentality. ‘First limiting factors’ are those aspects of the farming process which are wasteful, costly and inhibit growth and profitability.
  • Creating a climate for investment in UK dairy.

To support the delivery of these goals, the Collaboration is in the process of creating fifty ‘strategic’ dairy farms across the UK, capable of promoting knowledge exchange, sharing innovative approaches, advocating innovative technologies and demonstrating best farming practices. They will be able to help large numbers of dairy farms to be more profitable and sustainable. The Collaboration has already set up ten farms, with funding secured for an additional fifteen.

Volac’s contribution towards the Collaboration goes further than just coordinating the group. The annual cost of establishing and running each ‘strategic’ dairy farm is estimated at £25,000 per year, so as part of delivering on another of our CSR commitments, the trustees of the Betty Lawes Foundation — the charitable trust set up by Betty, wife of Dick Lawes, the founder of Volac — have agreed to provide £1 million over the next five years, to support the formation of eight farms. Volac has also been instrumental in securing an additional £1 million over five years from the Welsh Government to also set up eight ‘strategic’ farms.

This initiative is yet another example of our industry-leading role and delivering our Purpose: Dairy Nutrition for a Healthier World.

For more information, please contact Andy Richardson, Head of Corporate Affairs.

See also