What are the challenges for Dairy production in the Atlantic Area?

André Le Gall: The European Atlantic Area is very favourable to dairy production thanks to good pedoclimatic conditions for fodder production, well educated farmers and efficient dairy processing and manufacturing businesses. The Atlantic Area is well positioned to meet growing global demand for of dairy products. Nevertheless, the dairy sector faces several challenges:

  • The economic resilience of milk producing family farms in a context of market globalisation.
  • Environmental impact, including the carbon footprint of milk production, through more efficient resource use on farms.
  • Good husbandry practices that protect animal welfare
  • Working conditions on dairy farms to encourage young people to see dairy farming as a viable and attractive career.

Why do we need another project on Dairy farm sustainability?

André Le Gall: Finding more appropriate upgraded solutions to economic, environmental and social challenges are pivotal to maintaining viable family farms in constantly evolving contexts; global markets, policy on climate change and social mores.

What is the main novelty of Dairy4Future?

André Le Gall: The Dairy4Future project aims to design and implement innovative systems of dairy production with improved economic, environmental and social performances through multi-actor transnational approach with farmers, advisors and researchers working together to elucidate the most desirable outcomes. Targets include lowering on-farm production costs by 10% and carbon footprint of farm-gate milk by 20%.

Can you tell us a little more about the Consortium: how did you establish it? What was the relationship between partners before D4F?

André Le Gall: The Atlantic Area encompasses 20% of the dairy production in Europe. Dairy4Future brings together partners from research, innovation, extension, dairy farmer and industry representatives many of whom have already been involved in earlier European projects such as Green Dairy (2003-2006) Dairyman (2009-2013) Autograssmilk (2013-2015) Eurodairy (2015-2018) and others. This ensured optimal cooperation from the outset between partners that shared a well-informed and balanced vision for the dairy sector in the Atlantic Area. Partners bring complementary competencies ranging from dairy value chain socio-economics, farming techniques and systems, environmental assessment and carbon footprint mitigation.

Can you briefly describe the approach to reach the proposed objectives?

André Le Gall: We first carried out a SWOT analysis of the dairy sector in the different regions of the Atlantic area, covering both on-farm production and the downstream processing sector.  We are in the process of identifying  the multifaceted services provided by dairy farming. The development of more resilient and efficient dairy farming systems is based on a network of 100 high-tech, economically and environmentally efficient dairy farms and 10 experimental farms, which are involved in testing more efficient systems of milk production. One of the functions of this network is to facilitate exchange of innovations between partners and in the wider communities throughout the Atlantic Area. This is supported by active communication on social networks and by a conference in summer 2020 for stakeholders from across the Atlantic Area.

How can we differentiate Dairy products and be more competitive in the future?

André Le Gall: We will promote innovative dairy systems that are based on local resources such as the rich rain-fed grasslands of the Atlantic Area that underpin low cost production of milk with a low environmental footprint. These systems render several services to society (food, ecosystems and culture) and allow for product differentiation  of milk products and higher value along dairy food supply chains.

How are farmers involved in the project?

André Le Gall: There are 100 pilot farmers that are actively involved in addressing the core  issues in this project. Exchanges between regions are facilitates by exchange visits of pilot farmers and other stakeholders from one region to another. The pilot livestock farmers will also be involved in the 2020 Summer Conference, so that they can champion the innovative practices implemented on their farms. Finally, these 100 pilot farms open up their farms for other farmers and stakeholders can come and visit and see and learn and discus about the innovations in practice.

What is the role of the network of 10 experimental farms?

André Le Gall: The role of experimental farms is to develop, test and demonstrate prototype systems that make efficient  use of resources and with a low environmental footprint; there are ambitious targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, for example. We also aim for standardisation of methods and metrics, to facilitate interpretation and more rapidly elucidate the systems of tomorrow.

Where can we found more information about the project and how can be stay in contact?

André Le Gall: Information on the project is available on the Dairy4Future project website. Project news and results will be published as they become available on social networks (Facebook in PT, ES, FR, UK and IRL, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube). Conferences organised in each region or country will also disseminate results. Finally, information is available from the contact point of each country.

What will we learn from D4F?

André Le Gall: The main innovations will be blueprint systems of milk production optimised for best economic and environmental outcomes for farmers and society in general. There will be roadmaps for a sustainable future for dairy farmers and for the dairy processing sector including  issues such as encouraging the next generation of dairy farmers and production differentiation, for examples. The aim is to promote strategies for long-term impact.

How can farmers interact with pilot farmers, researchers and other members of the Consortium?

André Le Gall: Dairy farmers and other stakeholders will be able to interact with pilot farmers and research teams at Open Days that will be held on pilot farms and experimental farms throughout the project.

This is a very promising project. Will it change Dairy farming in Europe?

André Le Gall: The objective of this project is to promote worthy, productive and competitive dairy systems, based on local resources and with low environmental impact, and able to add value on dairy products. This is a win-win strategy for livestock farmers, the dairy industry, consumers and citizens. The target of this project is also to stimulate exchanges between us, because we believe in cooperation rather than competition.


  André Le Gall, project coordinator (andre.legall@idele.fr)