One of the UK’s largest dairy co-operatives has announced a new sustainability-focused programme for its suppliers.

The programme, which has been dubbed ‘Arla UK 360’, aims to set a new standard in UK dairy farming across several key areas.

The main areas of Arla UK 360 programme include:

  • Aspects of animal health and welfare;
  • People development;
  • Environment and natural resources;
  • Community engagement; and
  • Economic resilience and reinvestment; and will then drive a vision for research and development areas that will lead the UK dairy agenda.

The programme has been developed following a six-month trial with 79 Arla farmer-owners.

Additional areas that the programme will seek to address with the support of retailers and foodservice companies include breeding calves with purpose, cow behavioural studies, waste reduction and reuse along with data-driven leadership.

Arla UK 360

Graham Wilkinson, head of agriculture at Arla Foods UK and strategic lead for the Arla UK 360 programme said: “This programme is a vision of how we help drive sustainable businesses for UK dairy farmers. It isn’t just about producing high-quality dairy products.

“It continues the journey of our owners in driving a sustainable business, as stewards of the countryside and a critical part of UK food production.

“Crucial to its success is the support of retailers and foodservice businesses, as only then can the vision become a reality on farms across the UK.

Farmer-owners have a long-standing history of receiving support from UK retailers; however, with a new Agriculture Bill on the horizon, our owners want to drive sustainable change.

“As a farmer-owned cooperative, we have to act in the best interest of all our farmers owners. That means making industry support and benefits work for the greater good of all our owners.”

Aldi is the first UK grocery retailer to sign up to the programme and its support will provide a premium to a selected group of Arla’s owners to deliver the standards on farms.

The retailer will work with its group of British Arla farmer owners through the Aldi Dairy Farm Partnership to share knowledge through the supply chain and explore and tackle waste on-farm, initially searching for ways to reuse or recycle on farm plastic through the supply chain.

Jonny Burridge, an Arla farmer owner who took part in the Arla 360 trial said: “Participating in the Arla UK 360 trial has been eye opening.

“You won’t meet a farmer who isn’t driving forward standards on their farm in at least one area and, of course, Arla already has its Arlagarden programme, which has really helped drive consistency of standards.

To bring these areas all together has really made me challenge how I think about my farming practice.

“The current retailer support is great if you are one of the farmers fortunate to be on a retailer-aligned programme; but, to bring farmers together in one programme and in doing so address some of the more challenging areas farmers face, could be game changing for everyone.”