It is under the Carbon Dairy Life program, funded by the European Union and the French fund CASDAR (farming and rural development) that the carbon diagnosis required to achieve the "Low Carbon Dairy Farm" has been developed.
Life Carbon Dairy is based on a carbon footprint assessment carried out at the beginning and at the end of the project in 3900 dairy farms, and on the improvement of carbon impact measurement tools for farm advisors and farmers.
Furthermore, a network of 60 innovative farms will be monitored to build new solutions and assess their environmental performance.
The overall goal of this five year project is to promote new practices in dairy farms in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% per litre of milk over the next 10 years, combining both economic and environmental performance.
This major project for the sector is led by 14 partners (Chambers of agriculture, French Milk Recording Umbrella Organization (FCEL) and milk recording organizations, CNIEL and French Livestock Institute) carried out in 6 regions: Basse Normandie, Bretagne, Lorraine, Pas de Calais, Loire, Rhone-Alpes.
To date, 3900 breeders from 6 major dairy producing regions are already engaged into an action program called "Life Carbon Dairy". The “Low carbon dairy farm” initiative aims to involve 60 000 French dairy farms, which could enable a saving of around two million tons of CO2 in 10 years !
In actual fact, the aim is to develop a "climate roadmap" of French milk production for the next 10 years.
On 9th and 10th June 2015, the French dairy interbranch organization (CNIEL), the livestock and meat interbranch organization (INTERBEV), the National Livestock Confederation (CNE) and The French Livestock Institute (IDELE), presented their actions to reduce greenhouse gases emissions (GHG)...
...in the livestock sector,as part of the conference "livestock ruminants, key to climate solutions." The purpose was to review existing knowledge a few months before the United Nations conference on climate change COP21 in Paris,. From 30th November to 11th December 2015, this conference will involve all stakeholders around climate issues, and for the first time, agriculture will be part of it.
Convinced of the benefits of mixed crop-livestock farming, Stéphane Le Foll, French Minister of Agriculture, Agri-Food and Forestry concluded this conference saying : "Livestock is a challenge for meat and milk production, organic fertilization of soil and the struggle against climate change. Without livestock, agriculture would be unbalanced in its entirety."
This project is led by the French dairy interbranch organization, CNIEL, which rallies dairy farmers, dairy companies and farm advisors around the creation of a national momentum around the "Low carbon dairy farm" initiative.
The French Livestock Institute (IDELE) ensures the technical coordination of the carbon plan and proposes, in partnership with development actors, technical support and improvement of environmental performances tools such as CAP'2ER (environmental assessment and decision support tool to raise awareness and engage in a cattle improvement program). These tools enable farmers to know the carbon footprint of milk produced on their farm and to see where they stand compared to references. It also gives them practical cases and technical references, and an action plan, adapted to their environment, to reduce their emissions.
The specificity of our French dairy farms, with either 30 or 120 cows, is that they always have grassland and cultures. On average, this represents 0.5 to 1 hectare of land per cow. This has two advantages for the environment.
First it helps to feed the dairy herd with forage (grass, corn silage, cereals and so on) mostly (90%) harvested and cultured on the dairy farm. This is what we call feed autonomy. It reduces feed purchases outside of the farm. This is beneficial from an economic point of view but also environmentally because it avoids transport and therefore associated energy costs and CO2 emissions.
What's more, this land is available to spread, thus recycle, manure. Being natural fertilizers, good for soil quality and plant growth, it effectively replaces chemical fertilizers, limiting their purchase. Again, this has an economic interest for farmers, as well as an environmental one.
If, like all human activities, farming has a responsibility in terms of greenhouse gas emission, it also has a distinct characteristic in that it compensates for part of its emissions. Indeed, dairy farm grassland, hedges and boscs of store CO2 : this storage represents an average of 30% of greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farming.
In 2013, the French dairy sector set the target to further reduce its greenhouse gas emissions per litre of milk by 20% in 10 years.
An average French dairy farm in figures :
55 dairy cows
345 000 liters of milk produced / year
92 hectares including 33ha of grassland
54% organized as joint structures (GAEC/EARL)
Sources : RICA / France Agri Mer / Annual Dairy Survey
67 400 dairy farms supplying
24.6 billion liters of cow’s milk collected
Sources : Annual Dairy Survey / Monthly Dairy Survey
Each year, a French consumer buys :
Source : CNIEL through KantarWorldPanel (2013)
99% of milk processed on French territory comes from France
Source : CNIEL through Eurostat
250 000 jobs spread throughout the country
Sources : CNIEL through ESANE / RICA / Annual Dairy Survey
2.1% of cows' milk collected is organic
50 French dairy PDOs (Protected Designation of Origin)
Sources : Annual Dairy Survey / Agreste / CNAOL
In France, Milk is used for
Source : CNIEL through FranceAgriMer (2013)
Milk produced throughout the territory
CNIEL is the French Dairy Interbranch Organization. It facilitates relations between milk producers and processors. CNIEL is the place where professionals come together to build common references, particularly around dairy economics and milk quality. It informs about and promotes the strengths of the French dairy sector.
It develops scientific expertise (literature reviews, research programs, etc.) that reinforces competitiveness of all those involved in the dairy sector and protect the interests of milk and dairy products to develop French demand as well as exports.
Working in partnership with research and development actors, the French livestock institute (IDELE) conducts research on herbivores. Working on topics such as production, environment, competitiveness, product quality or economy, IDELE covers social areas and one of its main activities is knowledge transmission.
...And in key figures : 30 themes studied - 500 publications and about 15 technical days per year – a catalogue of 120 training sessions.
Voting for those who have climate solutions to propose! Such is the intent of the contest conducted, within the framework of the COP 21, by the Fondation Nicolas Hulot. It rewards projects considered by citizens as most effective against the effects of climate change.
Among 350 sustainability projects, the "Low carbon dairy farm" initiative submitted by the French Dairy Interbranch Organization (CNIEL) was included in a list of solutions selected by the Foundation, then voted upon by citizens, and elected as one of the five rewarded projects (fourth place).