It has been a challenging time for Europe’s dairy farmers. Supply chains have been disrupted and the global market has seen unprecedented volatility. But the COVID-19 crisis has brought the importance of a robust food supply into the spotlight and demonstrated how important dairy products are to citizens.
With Europe looking to move forward and recover from COVID-19, efforts must now turn to how we rebuild our economy. At Arla, we strongly believe in a green recovery. In line with the Farm to Fork strategy and recovery plan for Europe, we believe European dairy farming is part of the solution and we are committed to speeding up the transition to sustainable dairy. That means fighting climate change and protecting the environment, while also securing jobs and financial stability, promoting healthier lifestyles and maintaining quality of life.
As a cooperative owned by nearly 10,000 farmers across six EU Member States and the UK, sustainability isn’t new to us. Arla farmers have been reducing their carbon footprint since the 1990s and are among the most efficient dairy farmers in the world. The carbon footprint of a glass of Arla milk is half the global average; but we are not stopping there. We will reduce our carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050.
As we look to the future, three principles will help us achieve our goals: an evidence-based approach, scaling-up, and building solid partnerships. When considering an evidence-based approach, we believe that if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. For that reason, we are building one of the world’s largest farm carbon emission databases. To date, over 90 percent of our farmers have assessed their carbon footprint - covering eight percent of the EU’s total cow milk production. Our farmers will work with experts using the data to identify how they can continue lowering their footprint.
When it comes to scaling up, we have the means to do so. Being owned by farmers across seven European countries; we are ready to make a real difference. Working together across the supply chain means that we can generate a multiplier effect in areas ranging from improving animal welfare to reducing GHG emissions and protecting biodiversity.
"We believe European dairy farming is part of the solution and we are committed to speeding up the transition to sustainable dairy"
Finally, as a cooperative, partnership is in our DNA, which is why we recently signed up to the Green Recovery Alliance. This is also why we asked the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) to undertake independent research into actions required from industry, government and society to ensure dairy continues to provide high-quality nutrition while being produced sustainably.
This report was written before COVID-19, but its findings have even more resonance today as we all seek solutions for the green recovery. This is unlikely to happen unless the political and policy frameworks support the transition and ensure a sustainable future for the European food sector.
So, as Brussels begins putting the Farm to Fork strategy into action, it is important that farmers and the dairy industry are at the heart of the process. We look forward to working with our political and industry partners to help Europe become a sustainable continent.