FINLAND – Valio Group, one of the largest dairy manufacturers in Finland, has announced the launch of another sustainable bonus to its dairy farmers for farm actions that strengthen biodiversity and mitigate climate change.

This will be the company’s second program after the sustainability bonus program launched in 2018 which had the ambition to improve animal welfare.

With the previous program’s goal achieved, the company said that with this new launch, farms can receive additional payments per milk liter for grazing their cattle and giving them access to outdoor activity for farming practices supporting biodiversity.

The new actions are voluntary for farms, and the idea is that each farm will choose the actions that are right for them, but ultimately the efforts should aim in reducing the farm’s carbon footprint, according to Valio.

With more than 70% of Valio’s farms now grazing their cattle, and about 80% of the farms have either pasturage or exercise yards. Plans also exist to significantly increase the grazing and outdoor activity of cows in the future.

These two programs are in line with Valio’s goal of cutting milk’s carbon footprint to zero by 2035, as the company noted that a large share of milk’s carbon footprint originates in primary production at dairy farms.

The new program also follows the Valio Carbo calculator launched in 2020 that already some 1,200 farms have started using to calculate their carbon footprint and which the company is also planning to use to calculate the bonuses for the carbon footprint and implementation of carbon farming measures.

After the update, Valio will pay its dairy farmer-owners, through cooperatives, nearly €50million (US$ 53.75million) to support progress.

Senior Vice President of Primary Production at Valio Ilkka Pohjamo said: “Cows can move about freely year-round in a free-stall barn, but the animals can’t get outside to graze on all farms. The sustainability bonus will incentivize more and more farms to arrange outdoor activity for cows.”

Pohjamo explained further that the new program will serve good to the grazing cows and the biodiversity in the food chain, citing that grazing cows and the manure they leave in the pasture attract many kinds of insects, which in turn are food for birds.

The company also applauded its farmers, for adopting new designs for barn projects that have overcome the challenges faced in the past for pasture access.

The Finnish dairy acknowledged that currently, about 80% of the milk produced in Finland in total is within the sphere of Valio’s sustainability bonus program.

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