First Milk has announced the launch of its new responsible sourcing programme, First4Milk.The scheme is designed to promote the positive role dairy farming can have in delivering environmental and social benefits to society.
First4Milk has been developed as an extension of the work that First Milk has already been doing for a number of years with major customers.
It includes three key themes – People, Animals and Earth – and will focus on improving performance within these areas using technology to collect, analyse and use data, preventing duplication of effort.
As part of the initiative, First Milk will also work in partnership with Kingshay to develop a new smartphone app.
The First4Milk app will aggregate numerous feeds of key data that already exist and enable members to view information and reports on their phones, giving them real-time information to help manage their farms.
In addition, the co-operative has published several ambitious targets for to make its business more sustainable, including:
- Targeting 65% relative reduction in CO2 equivalent, 40% relative reduction in energy use and 30% relative reduction in water use at processing sites by 2025 (against 2008 baseline);
- Protecting watercourses by offsetting all nitrate, phosphate and sediment production from processing sites by 2022 and achieving a 40% relative reduction in food waste from sites by 2025;
- Eliminating direct waste to landfill from sites by 2025;
- For 20% of member businesses to be involved in the existing Next Generation Programme to encourage young people into the dairy sector;
- Launch of automated animal health and welfare index by end of 2020;
- Antibiotic stewardship rolled out across membership with members achieving usage below RUMA targets by 2020;
- Taking a key role in leading the development of Landscape Enterprise Networks.
Commenting on the announcement, Mark Brooking, membership director, said: “As well as caring about dairy foods being safe, nutritious and affordable, consumers also want assurances about the way that their food is produced.
“We are committed to playing our part in producing food in a responsible way and First4Milk sets out our commitments and key targets to drive improvement.
We will be addressing these challenges with an open mind, by adopting new approaches and using emerging technology to enable faster progress on key issues.
“Our new app, developed with Kingshay, will enable members to aggregate and utilise the information they already have by putting it all in one place without any additional work.
“We are committed to developing this tool so that it can become an integral part of how our members manage their farm businesses.
“We will also continue with our annual Responsible Farming Awards, recognising excellence in sustainable practice among our members.”