Supporting dairy farmers on their journey towards regenerative agriculture

Danone is part of “Farming for Generations”, a new alliance of agricultural sector leaders who come together in a unique project to support farmers to adopt regenerative agricultural practices that preserve and renew our planet’s resources, respect animal welfare and ensure the long-term economic viability of farms for the next generations.

Food systems need to be transformed to be fit for the future. People are increasingly conscious of the environmental and social impacts of their food choices. In parallel, new scientific studies are defining “sustainable diets” that can provide healthy and nutritious food to the growing world population while respecting environmental limits. Regenerative agriculture has a lead role to play in delivering this ambition, by protecting soil, water and biodiversity; respecting animal welfare; and empowering farmers.

That’s why Danone initiated the project and decided to join forces with other leaders from the whole agricultural value chain: animal health and welfare companies MSD Animal Health, Neogen and FutureCow; animal nutrition and health company DSM; crop nutrition leader Yara; crop science company Corteva; artificial intelligence agri-food start-up Connecterra; WWF France; and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF). Netherlands-based Wageningen University, renowned for its food and food production research, will be a research and advisory partner.

Recognizing that the food system needs to change to address a range of environmental and health challenges, the alliance is convinced that agriculture is part of the solution, and that dairy farming specifically has a key role to play in building the sustainable food systems of tomorrow. We are determined to help overcome these challenges by developing new agricultural models that can regenerate the planet while feeding a global population that is set to surpass 9 billion people by 2050.

At Danone, agriculture is at the heart of what we do. We are proud to maintain close relationships with farmers worldwide. Farming for Generations will initially work hand-in-hand with 25 dairy farms in the USA, the EU and Russia to identify best practices and innovations across different farming models, farm sizes and geographies. Viable and replicable solutions will be shared and scaled up within the full network of the alliance partners.

“Farming for Generations has the appropriate balance of skills, knowledge, perspective and global reach to assist farmers of all sizes and in all locations in advancing their farms' efficiency and sustainability. It's unprecedented to have so many leading experts working towards this shared vision for dairy farming. Our role as farmers will be to serve as a sounding board to ensure practices are applicable and pragmatic and shared in a way so that they can be quickly adopted.” - Brock Peters, participating dairy farmer based in Ohio (USA)

Concretely, the initiative will focus on the main activities of a dairy farm:

  • growing animal feed
  • nurturing and rearing animals, including choosing the best animals for breeding programs
  • producing milk

It will explore regenerative agricultural practices that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect soil and biodiversity while providing the best quality feed for dairy cows; support animal health and wellbeing, ensuring cows have a healthy, stress-free life; and empower farmers with workable solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges.

Over the next three years, the alliance will gather cross-sector insights, refine best practices and develop new approaches, which will be shared in a practical toolbox. Farmers will be involved each step of the way, ensuring that practices are viable and suited to local customs and geographic specificities.