Scottish Organic Milk Celebrates 20 Years of Success
The Scottish Organic Milk Producers co-operative is celebrating 20 years of collaboration this Organic September with the launch of a new project that’s set to benefit organic dairy farmers across Scotland.
The ‘Scottish Organic Dairy Goals’ project formalises and simplifies benchmarking, data capture and knowledge sharing between farmers to inform on-farm decision making. The project was launched on Thursday (31 Aug) at the first farm meeting of the project at Marshill Farm in South Lanarkshire - a 380 organic dairy farm and one of a growing number who sell direct to members of the public through milk vending machines.
Scottish Organic Milk Producers (SOMP) is a farmer co-operative that represents 21 organic dairy farms in Scotland, from Wigtownshire in the south to Inverness in the north. The co-op’s purpose is to support knowledge exchange amongst organic dairy farms and promote awareness of Scottish organic milk to the wider public.
Funded by the Scottish Government’s Knowledge Transfer Innovation Fund (KTIF), the new six-month project focuses on formalising an approach to monthly financial, physical and environmental benchmarking, alongside facilitated group meetings. The project will also identify meaningful measurements of natural capital and carbon, as well as address issues relating to organic protein.
SOMP Chairman Ross Paton, who farms in Auchencairn in Dumfries & Galloway, commented:
“Ultimately the goal of the project is to improve technical efficiency and better understand environmental and biodiversity metrics for Scotland’s organic dairy sector. While there are elements of the project that will be of interest to all producers, the benchmarking work is designed specifically around organic dairy performance.
“The next generation are the future of organic dairy, and the on-farm meetings are a great opportunity for them to connect with other likeminded people, to challenge assumptions and to collaboratively explore what can be achieved in Scotland’s fantastic organic dairy sector.”
The project was launched at the start of Organic September, the annual month-long celebration of organic food and drink. The project funding comes at an important time, as while the organic milk price has improved in recent months, cost inflation has increased faster, narrowing margins and stressing viability.
SAOS Head of Co-op Development, Robert Logan, who supports SOMP, said:
“It’s great to see the Scottish Government backing this project and recognising the impact that proactive people working together can have. Co-ops like SOMP are well established in Scotland’s farming industry, enabling networks of businesses with shared interests and values to achieve more by working together – which then benefits family farms, supply chains and rural communities.
“SOMP is a great example of a farming co-op punching above its weight by facilitating knowledge exchange and securing specialist business development for its members. It’s unusual in that it has a very wide geographical spread, but this project drills down into what really matters to organic dairy enterprises – everything from soil health to financial performance to legumes.”
Farmers interested in finding out more about organic dairy can visit www.scottishorganicmilk.org