Müller Milk & Ingredients is to offer its farmers a 0.5p per litre premium next year if they fulfil additional requirements based on improving herd health.
Members of the dairy giant’s 1,700-strong Müller Direct producer group will need to sign up to the supplier’s farm insight programme – an on-farm health and welfare assessment – to qualify for the premium, which would be worth £10,000 to a two million litre-per-year milk producer.
They will also need to sign up to The Müller Direct Antibiotic Programme – which aims to manage and reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics – and the National Johne’s Management Plan, which aims to control and eradicate Johne’s, a chronic disease which affects cattle.
The premium would help Müller’s farmers “build better, more sustainable businesses, securing long-term success and benefiting the dairy supply chain as a whole”, said its milk supply director Rob Hutchison.
The move follows the launch of Arla’s 360 scheme last month, which pays a premium to farmers for meeting higher criteria in areas including animal health and welfare, and environment resources. It also comes amid mounting speculation within the dairy sector that new initiatives offered by Arla and Müller meant the days of “costly” supermarket-run milk pools could be numbered.
Giving the processor access to aggregated, anonymised data from Müller’s herd health initiatives would provide “evidence of improved herd health and welfare in our direct farm pool”, added Hutchison, “which we will be able to share with our customers who have no direct relationship with farmers”.
Its premium is the latest in a series of moves designed to increase farmer resilience, their confidence and their ability to weather increasingly volatile global dairy markets.
Other measures include the introduction of a fixed price contract option and opportunities for farmers to access dairy futures markets.
“We are confident the benefits of participating, in terms of potential improvements in herd health and welfare – coupled with the value of benchmarking and sharing best practice – will be significant,” Hutchison said.