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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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IDF, FAO Publish Revised Guide to Sustainable Dairy Farming Practices

October 11, 2011 |

Developing sustainable management systems has become a top priority for dairy farmers around the world. Negative social and environmental impacts related to the production of milk and dairy products such as the distribution of tainted milk products, pasture degradation due to overgrazing, and the spread of disease among dairy cattle herds due to poor nutrition and veterinary care have come under increasing public scrutiny.

Looking to address this concern and promote sustainable dairy practices, the International Dairy Federation (IDF) and UN Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) have published a revised “Guide to Good Dairy Farming Practice.”

The guide’s core objective is to impress upon dairy farmers the world over that safe, quality milk should be produced from healthy animals using management practices that are sustainable from an animal welfare, social, economic and environmental perspective.

“This Guide has been written in a practical format for dairy farmers engaged in the production of milk from any dairy species all over the world,” explained Helen Dornom, chair of the IDF/FAO project team.  “It covers key aspects such as animal health, milk hygiene, nutrition, welfare, the environment and socio-economic management. These are essential tools to ensure that both the needs of the food industry and the expectations of consumers are met.”

Dairy farmers around the world need to be able to balance the sometimes seemingly conflicting goals of being profitable with the responsibility of protecting human, animal and environmental health, the IDF and FAO noted.  Thus, the revised second edition FAO/IDF guide focuses on the interrelationships between consumer safety and economic, social and environmental management at the farm level.

The guide serves as a comprehensive tool kit designed to help dairy farmers improve quality assurance, enabling them to better respond to market incentives, add value and adopt new farming methods. Select examples of practices advocated in the guide include establishing a herd with resistance to disease by proper breed selection, proper determination of herd size and stocking rate based on management skills, local conditions and the availability of land, infrastructure, feed and other inputs, and vaccination of all animals as recommended or required by local animal and health authorities.

The guidance and recommendations provided are drawn from a range of sources, including international publications from Codex Alimentarius (CODEX), the UN FAO, the IDF, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI), as well as a number of other on-farm assurance program from various countries.  Dairy farmers from various countries and regions around the world, therefore, can incorporate the appropriate practice recommendations specific to their region.

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