"> Milk buyers to pay price premium for environmental practices - eDairyNews-EN
Two milk buyers have announced that they will pay a sustainability bonus to suppliers who adopt greener farming practices.
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© Tim Scrivener

Farmer-owned co-op First Milk and Somerset-based Wyke Farms have set out new bonus payment initiatives to reward farmers for practices that reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

At First Milk, members can earn an extra 0.5p/litre, while Wyke Farms is offering up to 1p/litre.

Wyke Farms

Wyke Farms’ Net Positive Farming scheme covers five different areas of farming practices: the management of feed, soil and land, manure, herd, and energy.

Each is worth an extra 0.2p/litre, so producers could capture an additional 1p/litre on top of the headline milk price.

Managing director Richard Clothier said the standards were pitched at a level that would drive continuous improvement and addressed greenhouse gas emissions, soil health and biodiversity.

“Our industry is facing an existential threat and we have to change,” he said. “We are on a journey together – together we will improve our knowledge base and strive to be better environmentalists.’’

Best practice “beacon farmers” who can demonstrate what “good” looks like in each of the pillars will be asked to share that knowledge with the rest of the milk pool to drive improvement.

First Milk

First Milk’s scheme is linked to its 800 members completing a regenerative farming plan that details their current practices and planned changes to reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

Members will need to complete the plan by the end of March 2022, using a new digital mapping tool developed in association with Kingshay.

The bonus will be paid from 1 April 2022 to members who have committed to a plan.

First Milk has already run a series of regenerative farming workshops across the country, in partnership with Farm Carbon Toolkit, to advise members of the benefits of adopting regenerative farming principles and covering subjects including soil health, climate resilience, water, plant diversity and soil biology.

Since these workshops, the co-operative has provided all members with access to video guides about regenerative farming, and an information booklet.

Mark Brooking, sustainability director at First Milk, believes the programme is unique in its scale and approach.

“We are confident that this will help us deliver our ambitious net-zero goals and safeguard the future for our dairy farmer owners,’’ he said.

First Milk’s standard litre for December will be 32ppl, including the member premium.

A dairy checkoff group says holiday demand for butter is strong this year. Suzanne Fanning with Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin tells Brownfield sales have not fallen since the start of the pandemic.

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