Dairy cows feeding

Milk price premiums will be added to the milk price of the two suppliers’ farmers if they meet certain criteria

Dairy co-op First Milk and cheesemaker Wyke Farms have both unveiled packages that will financially reward its farmers for adopting sustainable farming practices.

First Milk will introduce a 0.5 pence per litre bonus for farmers who commit to introducing a regenerative farming plan, while Wyke will pay 0.2ppl each for five specific crieria encouraging sustainable practices.

The premium introduced by First Milk will come into effect on 1 April 2022, as long as its farmer members farmers detail on an app what their current practices are and what they plan to change to reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

The supplier said the app, which was developed by dairy consultancy Kingshay, would enable the “quick and accurate completion of regenerative plans, providing field-level data”.

The initiative is part of the dairy co-op’s wider First4Milk sustainability strategy, with the adoption of regenerative farming techniques “a core part” of its plan to become a net zero business by 2040.

It follows the completion of 11 regenerative farming workshops across the country, held in partnership with Farm Carbon Toolkit. These saw more than 300 First Milk members attend to understand more about the benefits of adopting regenerative farming principles, covering subjects including soil health, climate resilience, water, plant diversity and soil biology.

“We are convinced dairy farmers can be part of the solution to the climate crisis by adopting regenerative principles that store carbon in soil,” said First Milk sustainability director Mark Brooking.

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“The response we’ve had from members has been overwhelmingly positive and we will support them as they develop their own regenerative farm plans. We will then test and monitor soil carbon levels across our members’ farms through our partnership with Agricarbon, providing clear, robust data on soil carbon sequestration levels and progress towards net zero as we move forward.”

The programme was “unique in its scale and approach”, Brooking added. “We are confident this will help us deliver our ambitious net zero goals and safeguard the future for our dairy farmer owners. By working together in this way, we can regenerate the earth, enrich lives and nourish future generations.”

Wyke scheme

Meanwhile, Wyke Farms has announced the launch of a new five-pillar scheme, part of its ‘Net Positive Farming’ project, which is designed to encourage and financially reward dairy farmers who show evidence of on-farm sustainable practices. 

With immediate effect, farmers supplying milk to the business will be incentivised to introduce, or improve practices in feed management, soil and land management, manure management, herd management and energy management.

Once each criteria is met, farmers can achieve an extra 0.2 pence per litre of milk for each; meaning an additional 1ppl if addressing all five.

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“We called the project ‘Net-Positive Farming’ because for me this means the environment and the community have to be better for having farming there than they would be without it,” said Wyke Farms MD Rich Clothier.

“This means we have to create a net-positive impact in all that we do, so this project strives to holistically address GHG emissions, soil health and biodiversity. Our industry is facing an existential threat and we have to change,”  he added. 

“The financial incentive is an important part of the project, but equally important is the knowledge share and building knowledge of environmental best practice with suppliers. We are identifying best practise farmers in each of the pillars who demonstrate what ‘good’ looks like, so this knowledge can be shared with the rest of the pool and the industry can move forward.”