Arla Foods to develop climate database enabling farmers reduce their carbon footprint

EUROPE – Danish dairy cooperative, Arla Foods is introducing a new Climate Check programme and comprehensive support to all its 9,900 farmer owners in Northern Europe aimed at accelerating their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

The Climate Check programme will be introduced in seven European countries and builds on the successful climate check model that was introduced to Arla farmers in Denmark in 2013.

Arla said that the new global standardized tool for Climate Checks on farms will help the farmer identify emissions on farm and provide a clear picture of the actions farmers can take to reduce emissions further.

The programme will include a digital reporting tool, in which all farmers will submit their climate data. The data is then verified by an external advisor who will visit the farm to provide advice on action plans.

According to the farmer owned dairy firm, each Arla farmer will input information covering everything from herd size to housing, milk volumes, feed usage and feed production, energy and fuel usage and renewable energy production.

Arla Foods, which becomes the first dairy company in Europe to introduce the initiative across seven countries, said that the data-oriented tool will will triple the speed of CO2 reductions on farm.

As data from potentially 9,900 European dairy farms and an annual production of 14 billion litres of milk is submitted during 2020, Arla said it will be able to accumulate one of the world’s largest sets of externally verified climate data from dairy farming.

The dairy processor expects this to be a solid foundation for benchmarking, knowledge sharing across the dairy industry and correlation analysis.

“We will be able to benchmark against our farmer colleagues on carbon footprint. But equally important, the data can be used to gain more knowledge and science-based solutions in collaboration with the agricultural sector and academic institutions,” says Chairman Jan Toft Nørgaard.

“This will be important as we decide on which science-based solutions will take us to the next level in the fight against climate change.”

Incentive to motivate farmers

Arla will support its farmer owners to deliver reductions of 3% per year on average, paving way for the company to reach its ambition of reducing carbon emission by 30 per cent by 2030 and have a neutral climate impact by 2050.

To support the farmer owners in using the new Climate Checks, Arla’s Board of Directors has decided that farmers who sign up to the Climate Check in 2020 will be paid a financial incentive of one eurocent per kilo of milk.

Based on earlier initiatives, a financial incentive has proven to be effective in supporting programme roll-outs. Arla Foods Chairman Jan Toft Nørgaard expects the vast majority of Arla farmers to sign up to the Climate Check, thereby accelerating work to reduce carbon emissions.

“Within our cooperative, we have some of the most climate-efficient farmers in the global dairy farming sector. But not all farmers have had the possibility to do the Climate Check yet.

“So this decision by our Board releases that potential in addition to the ongoing knowledge and learning that we will all benefit from”, says Jan Toft Nørgaard.

Arla explained that the data captured will enable each farmer owner to see what level of carbon emissions they produce per litre of milk and identify opportunities for improvement.

Climate Check uses the internationally recognized methodology for carbon footprint calculations at farm level developed by the International Dairy Federation.

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