SCOTLAND – Cumbria and South-West Scotland, the UK’s second-largest milk field, are about to become a ‘magnet’ for hi-tech dairy production area after the launch of the £21 million (US$ 21.97million) Digital Dairy Chain project near Dumfries.

The project is led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) from its Barony campus and will see partners across South-West Scotland and Cumbria focusing on developing a fully integrated and traceable dairy supply chain.

The project which is supported by £21million (US$ 21.97million) from the UK Government’s Strength in Places Fund will initially focus on the use of sensors and data from dairy herds and how it can be utilized to produce more and better dairy products.

The project is said to be aligned with Scotland’s Strategy for Economic Transformation, which will eventually lead to the creation of more than 600 jobs and generate £60million (US$62.58million) a year of additional value, according to the project leaders.

It will do this by attracting large dairy processors to the region, supporting investment in industry-focused research and development, and turning South-West Scotland and Cumbria into a “magnet” for tech companies.

Cumbria and South-West Scotland have 52 dairy manufacturing businesses adding value to milk produced from 1,300 farms and producing 1.9 billion liters yearly, with a farm-gate value of £750 million (US$782.24million).

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “The Borderlands are home to many innovative dairy farmers and producers who are boosting the value of their industry and the region’s economy while also making significant improvements in both sustainability and welfare.

“We are also investing £4million (US$4.17 million) in the flagship Dairy Nexus facility at the Barony Campus as part of our £265million (US$276.39million) investment in the Borderlands Growth Deal.”

Principal and chief executive of SRUC, Professor Wayne Powell, added that working with local and national businesses, the Digital Dairy Chain will transform the region’s dairy production systems and establish it as a global leader in advanced, sustainable, and high-value dairy manufacturing.

He also added that the project will foster entrepreneurship, create new market opportunities, add new skills to the workforce, and lay the foundations for more productive regions, all while making the critical journey towards net zero.

Chief Executive of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, Jo Lappin commented that the project can play a really important part in supporting the dairy sector to innovate and improve productivity, and addressing the labour supply issues.

The partners in this project include the University of Strathclyde, the University of the West of Scotland, CENSIS, First Milk, Lactalis UK & Ireland, Kendal Nutricare, Cows & Co Group, National Milk Records, and SmartSTEMs.

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