Dutch Dairy Diversity (1)

Friday 13 July – Northern tour

Over the course of the day, Dutch Dairy Diversity participants experienced the depth of the dairy sector in the Netherlands. They visited a wide variety of entrepreneurs and business concepts, among them a dairy factory and practically minded scientists. The tour handled questions like: ‘What is the modern dairy farmer doing now and in the years to come?’ ‘How do different entrepreneurs respond to this?’ ‘How do they use modern technology?’ ‘And how do they see their own role, as an individual and as a sector, in the coming years?’

Firma Stokman – conventional but unique

Anton (62), Tiny (59) and Arjan (24) Stokman run a free-choice stable. The 300 cows can graze, bathe or stay indoors all day – the animals have free choice. They conduct a modern business operation and are one of the first dairy families to use milking robots. They have invested heavily in reducing ammonia emissions and in energy production.
As a company, they also lease a lot of natural land. These hectares are fully used within the further intensive business operations. Firma Stokman is a Flagship Farm for McDonalds.

Stokman senior and junior are energetic and ambitious entrepreneurs with a strong eye for social developments. Senior calls himself ‘at least as much an inventor as a farmer’. He expresses his vision to others in a clear and enthusiastic manner.

Goal of the farmers and their farm
‘To integrate sustainability where environment, animal welfare, productivity and energy comes together. Farmers who push their limits to contribute to a social need should deserve more recognition and more financial support.’

Good to know
– They plan to start working with a mono-digesting system, not by the Jumpstart program of FrieslandCampina, but in another manner.
– In the past they worked on a plan for a pipeline of green gas from their biogas-plant to the Dairyplant of FrieslandCampina in Workum.
– Arjan is member of the youth committee of FrieslandCampina.
– They are member of the European Dairy Farmers http://www.dairyfarmer.net/nc/home.html

Figures Firma Stokman
Staff: 1 full-time employee, 1 employee for weekends and 1 employee for holidays.
Number of cows: 300 milk and dry cows in total.
Milk production: 10.500 kilo per cow, with 3.60% protein and 4.45% fat.
Young stock: Calves leave at age of two weeks and come back as heifer two months before calving.
Land use: 155 hectares in total – 110 hectare owned, 20 hectare rented in other province and 25 hectare rented nature land (soil with low production).
Commercial side activities: Flagship Farmer for McDonalds (http://www.flagshipfarmers.com/en/profile/anton-stokman/)

Cheese factory FrieslandCampina

Based in Workum, this cheese factory produces the largest volume of cheese (120 million kilos) in Europe. Approximately 1.2 billion kilos of milk is supplied annually for this. The largest cooperation in the Netherlands is working on different concepts to be distinctive in the market with its cheese. The dairy co-op puts great emphasis on health, especially in aging communities, and the surrounding landscape.
Are there other opportunities to differentiate themselves in the market? What are they? During the presentation at the factory there will be an in-depth discussion by the management and the RFC board.

Read more about the production location of the division Cheese and Butter in Workum:

New plans with a lot of impact
Earlier this year, FrieslandCampina presented plans to decrease the amount of extra milk farmers are allowed to deliver. The plan will be introduced in 2019. In short, extra milk, according to which reference period producers choose, costs €0.10/L.

The plans have led to enormous discussion between dairy farmers and the board of FrieslandCampina. You will have an opportunity to ask chairman Keurentjes and dairy farmer Stokman what they think about the plans, and about how worried the other members of the co-op have been.
Read what FC wrote on the matter:

Boer Bart

A few years ago, Bartele (31) and Rianne (31) Holtrop started their own independent organic dairy farm. When asked about their vision, Bart said: ‘Our goal is to develop an agricultural system that fully cooperates with nature and is absorbed in the character of the environment. A farm that produces high quality food, has an economic perspective and works in an environmentally-friendly way. Everything must be animal friendly, and we do not want to use chemicals to increase productions. The farm system must be able to last for another 1,000 years. We call it: ‘forward to origin’.

In 2017, Boer Bart went into an agreement with local cheese factory Rouveen. Their milk is processed and made into one type of cheese: De Tjonger. The cows graze outside day and the night, and they are also milked there (watch the introduction movie to Boer Bart).

Staff: Besides Bartele and Rianne, a few part-time workers – mainly in the weekends
Number of cows: 100 jersey cows
Milk production: 4,400 kg/cow/year with 5.2% fat, 4.1% protein
Young stock: 40
Land use: 57 hectare for grass production; 19 hectare wet natural land where grass can only be cut once or twice a year
Cost price of milk production: € 0.38/l
Milk price average in 2017: € 0.59/l
Commercial side activities: Selling of products (own cheese brand + yoghurt + eggs) & giving presentations & building up markets)

Goal of the farmers and their farm
Create a farm that can exist 1,000 years with rich and healthy soil that produces forever.
They produce for the Dutch market, specifically for people who look for food that contributes to their overall health.

Good to know about the farm and farmers
– Bartele and Rianne started 3 years ago this farm. Bartele first was a conventional farmer with his parents
– Last spring they were nominated as Agri Entrepreneur of the Year
– Cows walk outside almost the whole year round – very uncommon in The Netherlands

Dutch Dairy Diversity (2)

Saturday 14 July – Northern tour

Over the course of the day, Dutch Dairy Diversity participants experienced the depth of the dairy sector in the Netherlands. They visited a wide variety of entrepreneurs and business concepts, among them a dairy factory and practically minded scientists. The tour handled questions like: ‘What is the modern dairy farmer doing now and in the years to come?’ ‘How do different entrepreneurs respond to this?’ ‘How do they use modern technology?’ ‘And how do they see their own role, as an individual and as a sector, in the coming years?’

Fam. De Jong – invest in innovation

The family business De Jong runs a farm with 430 dairy cows near the village of Scharnegoutum. This year an automatic grass silage cover system from Easy Silage was installed. They run a costly and innovative system to save labor and improve roughage quality. This tour explains how the system works, the vision of the entrepreneur and the how and why he chose to do it this way (watch the introduction video to Fam. De Jong).

Goal of the farmers and their farm
‘We are a family-owned business aiming at high productivity with less labour. A family business isn’t always easy, but brings you social and economical in the end the most. Having a social live beside the farm is important for us. Therefore we invested as well in this automatic silage cover system.’

Figures family De Jong
Name: fam. De Jong. Owned by: Piet (69), Fetsje (69), Esther (42), Jaap (42)
Place: Scharnegoutum
Staff: besides the parents and Esther and Jaap: younger brother Herman. Plus, one employee who milks the cows 30 hours a week.
Number of cows: 430 milk and dry cows in total
Milk production: 9,000 kilo per cow, with 3.60% protein and 4.35% fat
Young stock: 200
Land use: 135 hectares in total: 70 hectare owned, 65 hectare rented and 62 hectare is at 3 km from the farm
Commercial side activities: none

Piet Jan Thibaudier

Piet Jan Thibaudier (31), together with Arjan Hulsman, invented the grass growth meter (Pasture Reader) on a front mower. It collects data while mowing. Both are young entrepreneurs with a lot of grass growth knowledge. Piet Jan explains the technology, but also the vision and the benefits that it delivers in practice, supported by figures. Thibaudier is also re-entering a grass-based feeder by 2018, an important and interesting theme in the Netherlands. Dairy Factories pay a serious premium when you grass the cows.

Goal of the farmers and their farm
‘This is a totally grass-based farm. We should get optimal production from this grass with relatively low costs.’

Good to know about the farm and farmers
– Piet Jan is the founder of Pasture Reader on a front-mower, which measures dry matter of the grass. He knows what he feeds and where in every field the grass grows better or worse. With this information he can reduce the use of fertiliser and still come to higher output of the grassland.
– For several years and until recently, Piet Jan wrote a column in magazine Boerderij.
– Piet Jan is a board member of Niscoo, a fully independent coop to spread knowledge between farmers.

Name: Piet Jan Thibaudier (32). Farm owned by: father Luut, mother Coby and Piet Jan Thibaudier
Place: Lemmer
Staff: Besides Piet Jan and his parents 1 part-time worker
Number of cows: 180 crossbreds
Milk production: 8,500 kg per cow per year with 4.5% fat and 3.65% protein
Young stock: 70
Land use: 100 hectare grassland, of which: 45 ha owned, 25 ha long period rent and 30 ha short period rent
Commercial side activities:
– Stimulation of birds in nature (low productive) land for which he receives a contribution
– Sales of Pasture Reader

Floating Farm

The idea for the Floating Farm came out of a search for new ways to produce food in the city. Producing food in the city helps to close the gap between farmer and consumer. The founders of the Floating Farm call this Transfarmation. Beginning at the end of 2018, 40 dairy cows will be kept in the port of Rotterdam. Their milk will be locally processed into healthy dairy products and sold to local consumers. Theirs is an initiative that appeals to the imagination worldwide. Inspired by Floating Farm, several world cities requested to copy the concept, even before it actually started in Rotterdam. The Floating Farm was built in the summer of 2018, and we are one of the first who can have a look with our own eyes.

Facts & figures about Dutch dairy farming

Number of dairy farmers in 2017: 17,500
Number of cows in 2017: 1.63 million
Production of milk in total: 1.4 billion liters
Amount of land in use total sector: 864,000 hectares
Average ha per dairy farm: 49.4
Milk production/cow/year (2017 average): 8,706 kg milk with 4.36% fat and 3.57% protein
(Sources: CBS.nl and Rabobank)

Dutch Dairy Dilemmas
Many Dutch dairy farmers see the current period as a very difficult one. It has been turbulent, that’s for sure. The most important thing to understand is the phosphate quota. When Europe abolished milk quota on April 1, 2015, Dutch dairy farmers immediately began producing more milk. They kept more cows, which produced more phosphate.
There is a lack of phosphate worldwide, but in The Netherlands there is too much. Therefore, the government and the farmers’ union made the agreement of a ‘phosphate-sealing’. In 2015, the government made changes to stop this overproduction. Each farm was given phosphate rights, and those rights were based o the amount of cows and young stock they had on July 2, 2015. Officially, this new system started on January 1, 2018, one year later than the original plan.

The Dutch Dairy farmers hold a unique position within the EU. They are allowed to use more nitrogen to fertilize their land than other EU-farmers (250 kg N/ha versus 170 kg N/ha). This is called derogation. The derogation came into place as the Dutch soils are more fertile, produce more grass and in general can feed more cows per ha then elsewhere in Europe.

When farmers began to produce more milk, manure and thus phosphate the EU threatened to stop the derogation. This was one of the main reasons for the Dutch government to put measure into place that put a stop to unlimited growth of dairy farm production. Instead of milk quota farmers now have to deal with phosphate rights. Due to the fact that lots of farmers already invested in increasing their production and the rights are much wanted to allow the growth, prices for one phosphate right are high. They can cost as much as 9000 euro’s per cow.

The political pressure as well as societal demands put a lot of pressure on today’s dairy farmers.