Eight agricultural sector leaders (including DSM and Wageningen UR) announced Farming for Generations, a unique, global collaboration to support dairy farmers to adopt regenerative agricultural practices that preserve and renew our planet’s resources, respect animal welfare and ensure the long-term economic viability of farms for the next generation.
Recognizing that the food system needs to change to address a range of environmental and health challenges, the alliance is convinced that agriculture is a solution and that dairy farming specifically has a key role to play in building the sustainable food systems of tomorrow.
Led by global food industry leader Danone, Farming for Generations draws on the expertise of leaders from the whole agricultural value chain: animal health and welfare companies MSD Animal Health, Neogen and FutureCow; animal nutrition and health company DSM; crop nutrition leader Yara; crop science company Corteva Agriscience; and artificial intelligence agri-food start-up Connecterra. Netherlands-based Wageningen University and Research, renowned for its food and food production research, will be a research and advisory partner.
Farming for Generations will initially work hand-in-hand with 25 dairy farms in the USA, EU and Russia to identify best practice solutions and innovations across different farming models, farm sizes and geographies. Viable and replicable solutions will be shared and scaled up within the full network of the alliance partners.
Food systems need to be transformed to be fit for the future. People are increasingly conscious of the environmental and social impacts of their food choices. New scientific studies are working to define “sustainable diets” that can provide healthy and nutritious food to the growing world population while respecting environmental limits. Regenerative agriculture has a lead role to play in delivering this ambition, by protecting soil, water and biodiversity; respecting animal welfare, and empowering farmers.
Commenting on this initiative, Yann Gael Rio, VP Milk and Farming at Danone, said: “Regenerative agriculture is a solution to many of the environmental and health challenges we face today. Farming for Generations brings together expertise along the whole agricultural value chain with the collective know-how of farmers. This will ensure any solutions and innovations are tried and tested on the ground, capable of delivering real impact at scale and helping to build the sustainable food systems of tomorrow.”
Participating dairy farmer, Brock Peters based in Ohio (USA), said: “Farming for Generations has the appropriate balance of skills, knowledge, perspective and global reach to assist farmers of all sizes and in all locations in advancing their farms’ efficiency and sustainability. It’s unprecedented to have so many leading experts working towards this shared vision for dairy farming. Our role as farmers will be to serve as a sounding board to ensure practices are applicable and pragmatic and shared in a way so that they can be quickly adopted.”
Farming for Generations will help identify and scale up solutions across the farming system: growing animal feed, choosing the best animals for breeding programs, nurturing and rearing animals, and producing milk. It will explore regenerative agricultural practices that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect soil and biodiversity while providing the best quality feed for dairy cows; support animal health and wellbeing, ensuring cows have a healthy, stress-free life; and empower farmers with workable solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges.
Over the next three years, the alliance will gather cross-sector insights, refine best practices and develop new approaches, which will be shared in a practical toolbox. Farmers will be involved each step of the way, ensuring that practices are viable and suited to local customs and geographic specificities.