A new initiative launched by First Milk aims to enable its members to enhance their profitability by developing and sharing skills.

Claimed to be unique in the dairy industry, the First Milk Academy encourages members to benchmark key areas of their farms' performance and then to employ techniques to make improvements.

Farmer director Tom Campbell says: "There can be huge differences in profitability between farms of roughly equivalent sizes and yet between us we already have the best solutions - we just need to become better at sharing the knowledge we have."

First Milk has teamed up with a number of strategic partners to provide data ­that will enable members to benchmark their performance in key areas:

Campbell said: "The research we recently commissioned into how farmer co-operatives have succeeded elsewhere in the world shows that investment in this kind of professional development is a common factor among them."