Arla cows

One of the scheme’s earliest priorities would focus on exploring and tackling waste on farms 

Arla has unveiled a “new standard for dairy farming”, which aims to make improvements in areas including animal welfare, economic resilience and the environmental impact of its dairy farms.

The currently voluntary programme, dubbed Arla 360, follows a six-month trial by 79 Arla farmers and has already been backed by Aldi – which started taking supply of milk from the dairy co-op this month as part of a long-term strategic partnership.

Farmers taking part in the scheme will have to meet higher criteria in six key areas, incorporating best practice across health and welfare, people development, environment and natural resources, plus community engagement, economic resilience and reinvestment.

Aldi will provide a premium to a select group of Arla’s farmer suppliers to meet the costs of the programme, while the retailer and dairy co-op were also in discussions over plans to promote the scheme to consumers, said Arla Foods UK head of agriculture Graham Wilkinson.

He pointed out one of the earliest priorities would focus on exploring and tackling waste on farm and how to reuse or recycle on-farm plastic through the supply chain.

The programme represented a vision of how Arla could help drive sustainable businesses for UK dairy farmers, he added.

“It isn’t just about producing high-quality dairy products. [The project] continues the journey of our owners in driving a sustainable business, as stewards of the countryside and a critical part of UK food production,” he added.

However, the ultimate success of the scheme depended on the wider support of retailers and foodservice businesses, he stressed. “As only then can the vision become a reality on farms across the UK.”

“With a new Agriculture Bill on the horizon, our owners want to drive sustainable change,” he added. “As a farmer-owned co-operative we have to act in the best interest of all our farmer owners. That means making industry support and benefits work for the greater good of all our owners.”