Speaking to Members of Parliament and dairy sector figures, Dairy UK chairman Paul Vernon highlighted the progress he said the sector has made over the past decade. He also outlined future plans on environmental sustainability for the industry.
Vernon said the Dairy Roadmap is a cross-industry initiative that aims to improve the environmental sustainability of the UK dairy sector while ensuring its continued prosperity, and the provision of safe and sustainable dairy produce for consumers at home and abroad.
“The 10th anniversary report highlights the vast strides that have been taken both on farms and in dairies since the Dairy Roadmap was founded,” Vernon said.
“Together, the British dairy sector has reported a marked improvement in its environmental footprint, not only reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, waste, and other pollutants but also improving the efficiency with which it consumes water, energy, and other resources.”
The UK is currently the third largest producer of milk in Europe and the 10th largest globally. The sector employs more than 70,000 people in the UK, represents 15% of the value of agricultural produce in the UK and accounts for an estimated £8.8bn ($11.8bn) in sales at wholesale.
The 2018 report states there has been a 24% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with milk production; a 24% improvement in water efficiency; an 18% improvement in energy efficiency; 85% of HDPE milk containers now recycled; and a decrease in the proportion of waste sent to landfill from 35% to only 4%.
The Dairy Roadmap also points out there is no endpoint to environmental sustainability. Currently chaired by Dairy UK, working alongside the National Farmers Union (NFU), and Agriculture Horticulture and Development Board (AHDB), the entire UK supply chain continues to set targets for improvement that draw from the ever-changing sustainability agenda.
The report also explores alignment with national commitments and global sustainability initiatives, such as the Dairy Sustainability Framework and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Speaking at the parliamentary launch, George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said, “As the UK’s largest agricultural sector, the industry has a major role to play in delivering our ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan and I look forward to working with Dairy UK to deliver a bright future for our farmers, processors and the environment.”
NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes said the report highlights “the significant environmental progress dairy farmers have made over the last decade driven in part by the ambitious and wide-reaching targets set by the Roadmap.”
“These targets include commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency, water usage and waste management on farm. The achievements of the past 10 years stand testament to the hard work and commitment of our dairy farmer members to meet these environmental ambitions.”