FrieslandCampina looks at looming phosphate legislation

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

FrieslandCampina is urging its farmers to spread production evenly over the entire year.
FrieslandCampina is urging its farmers to spread production evenly over the entire year.

Related tags Cattle Dairy farmers

In a letter to its member dairy farmers, FrieslandCampina’s board has addressed issues surrounding the Dutch national phosphate rights system.

The Dutch dairy cooperative said it has called on all its members not to produce more phosphate than is covered by the phosphate rights of each dairy farm, and to spread the milk supply throughout the year as much as possible.

It says this will prevent not only a potential imbalance between milk supply and processing capacity, but also a potential standstill of the milk supply.

New system introduced

Effective January 1, 2018, there will be a phosphate rights system for dairy cattle in the Netherlands.

The challenge will be for each dairy farm to annually align its dairy livestock and the phosphate production per cow to the available – and purchased – phosphate rights, and to spread production over the year as much as possible.

If the phosphate production is too high in the first half-year, it will have to be compensated by a lower phosphate production and, hence, a lower milk production and/or a smaller livestock in the second half-year.

Survey results

In August, FrieslandCampina carried out a survey among its member dairy farmers as to the expected milk production for the period from October 1, 2017 through October 1, 2018.

Results from the survey showed the number of phosphate rights member dairy farmers aspire to take over is many times higher than the number of rights actually for sale. Furthermore, they indicated they wished to increase the number of milk-producing cows at their farms by adjusting the share of their young livestock.

The company said its processing capacity - and the capacity it has contracted from third parties in 2018 - appear to be sufficient to be able to process the milk supplied by all its members, based on the assumption that all FrieslandCampina members will stay at or below the statutory level of the phosphate rights system, and that they will succeed in reducing the peak supply from January through May 2018 by ensuring a more steady milk supply throughout the year.

Standstill possible

Since the abolition of milk quotas on April 1, 2015, the supply of farm milk has risen sharply in the Netherlands.

FrieslandCampina has invested in processing capacity, consistent with its route2020 strategy. In 2018, its processing capacity will exceed that of 2017.

Should it turn out not to be possible to prevent any imbalance between milk supply and processing capacity, FrieslandCampina said it will announce a temporary standstill for the supply of milk, the details which will be developed over the coming weeks.

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