£3.3m project to improve dairy supply chain in Wales

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Milk, Dairy farming, Wales, Dairy farmers

A Welsh minister has launched a £3.3m (€3.96m) five-pronged project to support the domestic dairy industry and improve supply chain efficiency and realise energy savings.

The man tasked to manage the project told DairyReporter.com precisely how the venture could help to achieve objectives set out in the Strategic Action Plan for the Welsh Dairy Industry. Coleg Sir Gar’s Dairy Development Centre manager John Griffiths said that the scheme consisted of five modules, including steps to improve energy efficiency for dairy farmers, and ‘impact groups’ to resolve issues between processors and farmers.

Improving energy efficiency

To achieve energy savings, the centre’s taskforce will analyse 250 Welsh dairy farms, roughly 12 per cent of farms in the country, and compare the electricity, raw material, and water usage of each farm. Farms with the largest savings will be used as examples for overall energy efficiency gains throughout the industry, he said.

Asked whether farmers would want to share such information with competitors, Griffiths said: “In reality, everyone will have something to improve on – everyone will gain.”

He added that, at this stage, it was impossible to set specific energy saving targets until the analysis was complete and the varying levels of usage at each farm had been assessed.

Impact group and other modules

Impact groups will also be set-up to resolve issues between processors and farmers. Typically, he continued, this involves a processor approaching the centre and expressing a concern about a farmer or the milk supply chain. The centre can then use its facilities and resources to address the issue. He said the centre aims to work with at least 12 processors per year.

Another initiative involves looking at animal health where 6 annual events will be held on different topics such as fertility and diseases, he said

The next module, he continued, was ‘collaborative venturing’, which involves working with farmers to break barriers and address matters such as legal issues. The remaining module was catergorised as ‘forage’ and entails analysing silage pits to pinpoint competitive advantages by measuring grazing fields and grass nutrients, he said.

Industry reaction

Jim Begg, Dairy UK Director General told this site: “Dairy UK warmly welcomes this project and will actively support it where possible. The far-sighted initiative will help to bring the links in the supply chain closer together and raise profitability for everyone in the industry.

“Areas of focus include dairy cow health, energy efficiency, production efficiency and market development. Success in all these fields will directly benefit everyone in the chain, from farmers up to the consumer.”

Griffiths said that although the scheme, funded by the Welsh Assembly and the European Agricultural fund for Rural Development, was announced in spring, the centre needed to recruit staff in order to commence the project.

Welsh rural affairs Minister Elin Jones presented the scheme at Coleg Sir Gar’s Dairy Development Centre in Carmarthenshire last week.

She said the project would help meet targets set out in the 2007 Strategic Action Plan for the Welsh Dairy Industry, which includes fostering innovation and improving supply chain linkages.

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