The programme covers six areas essential to building a profitable, responsible dairy farm business. These include animal health and welfare, people development, environment and natural resources, community engagement, economic resilience and reinvestment, and research and development.
Graham Wilkinson, head of agriculture at Arla Foods UK and strategic lead for the Arla UK 360 programme, said it had been created to help drive sustainable businesses for UK dairy farmers.
“It isn’t just about producing high-quality dairy products. It continues the journey of our owners in driving a sustainable business, as stewards of the countryside and a critical part of UK food production,” he said.
“Crucial to its success is the support of retailers and foodservice businesses, as only then can the vision become a reality on farms across the UK.”
He said that the owners of Arla Foods currently worked with retailers across the UK in developing standards, and retailers had been supportive of this. But the new approach of Arla UK 360 would unify this support to ensure that more consistent industry-wide change can be achieved.
“Arla farmer owners have a longstanding history of receiving support from UK retailers,” Wilkinson said. “However, with a new Agriculture Bill on the horizon, our owners want to drive sustainable change. As a farmer-owned cooperative we have to act in the best interest of all our farmer owners.
“That means making industry support and benefits work for the greater good of all our owners.”
Aldi has become the first UK grocery retailer to sign up to the programme and will work with its group of British Arla farmer owners through the Aldi Dairy Farm Partnership.
Fritz Walleczek, managing director of corporate responsibility at Aldi UK, said: “We will be working with our dedicated Arla farmers to continue to enhance animal welfare and farm management through the 360 programme. This builds on our longstanding commitment to support British farmers and suppliers.”
The programme has been developed following a six-month trial with 79 Arla farmer owners. Johnny Burridge, an Arla farmer owner who took part in the Arla 360 trial, said it was “eye-opening”.
“You won’t meet a farmer who isn’t driving forward standards on their farm in at least one area and, of course, Arla already has its Arlagården programme, which has really helped drive consistency of standards,” he said. “But to bring these areas all together has really made me challenge how I think about my fa