2.2 billion EUR to sustainability efforts: As of today millions are being paid to Arla farmers to reward and motivate climate initiatives

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Arla Farmers are now paid a Sustainability Incentive as part of their monthly milk price payment.
14 August 2023
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For the first time, Arla has paid out a monthly incentive to its farmer owners’ milk price rewarding climate activities and other sustainability efforts being made on their farms, using a data-driven and science-based points system. Farmers have implemented more activities than first anticipated and based on the current level, Arla stands to pay out 2.2 billion EUR until the end of 2030 for farmers’ sustainability activities. The cooperative has, however, earmarked a bigger amount as it expects its farmer owners to raise the bar significantly higher.

As of today, Arla farmers taking the most action on climate will receive a higher price for their milk.

Last year, Arla introduced its new groundbreaking Sustainability Incentive model which rewards farmers for the climate and environment-enhancing initiatives they undertake. And today Arla starts paying out this new monthly incentive.

In other words, the farmers who do the most for climate and environment will receive the highest price for their milk. And consequently, the consumers are guaranteed that a part of the price they pay for Arla’s products helps reward and motivate a faster transition to more sustainable dairy farming.

Arla has earmarked up to 500 million EUR each year to reward and motivate farmers, of which 300 million is now activated. The size of the incentive depends on the individual farmers’ efforts, measured in points. Based on the current points score, Arla will until the end of 2030 pay a total of at least 2.2 billion euro for sustainability activities on farm. However, the amount is expected to increase as farmers, motivated by the incentive, make further climate improvements.

For Arla’s CEO, Peder Tuborgh, it is a special day:

”I have been looking forward to this. The Sustainability Incentive is a large step towards linking economy and climate and nature improvements on farm. Arla’s unique point system makes it possible for us to reward our owners and thus contribute to their large investments in sustainability. At the same time, we strengthen the farmers’ motivation to implement the initiatives necessary for our cooperative to reach its ambitious climate goals for 2030,” says Peder Tuborgh.

Farmers exceed expectations

In 2022 alone, Arla farmers across seven countries reduced their CO2e emissions from their milk by more than two per cent. Data from Arla’s Climate Check on the farms shows this. Amongst other things this has happened because the farmers have produced and used feed more efficiently, used less fertiliser, improved their manure storage, reduced energy consumption and shifted to more renewable electricity.

When Arla introduced the Sustainability Incentive model, the dairy company expected farmers to achieve an average of 39 points out of a possible 80 in the new point system. However, the first inventory shows that the average farmer has achieved 48 points based on the initiatives registered by the end of June 2023.

The 48 points mean that across seven countries Arla pays out an average of 1.44 eurocent per kilo of milk to its farmer owners through the Sustainability Incentive. On top of this is another 1 eurocent per kilo of milk for submitting the Climate Check data that is required in order to take advantage of the Sustainability Incentive. For an average Arla farm with and annual milk production of 1.6 million kg, the two amounts in total equal close to 40,000 EUR a year.

”Our owners are working determinedly to reduce emissions on their farm. There is a great commitment in our cooperative to show our consumers, our industry and society in general that we as Arla farmers are able to produce milk with an increasingly smaller footprint on climate and nature. It is a significant effort for the individual farmer; however, many are well on their way and together we can motivate each other, e.g. through a financial incentive using our new points-based model. I am excited to watch the level going forward, because with this large engagement we will be able to move really far in a short period of time,” says Jan Toft Nørgaard, chairman of the board at Arla Foods.

The monthly incentive will be updated quarterly, and the total annual amount depends on the farmers keeping the level of sustainability initiatives on each farm as well as the total milk volume in Arla.

Data-driven and science-based approach ensures actual difference

The Sustainability Incentive model has been drafted in close cooperation with Arla’s farmer board and by involving Arla’s 8,500 farmer owners. Based upon the measures that could make the largest impact, a system with 19 point-giving levers – such as feed and protein efficiency, manure handling, sustainable soy, renewable electricity and land use – has been developed. The point system is used for rewarding the Arla farmers’ work with sustainability and initially there are 80 points available.

The reward model builds upon the data obtained from Climate Checks since 2019, amongst other things, and reflects Arla’s science-based plan to achieving its reduction goals, which meets the Science Based Targets Initiative’s criteria for ambitious value chain goals. According to Peder Tuborgh, this is of key importance:

”It is a fundamental premise for our incentive model that it is data-driven and science-based. We want to drive activities that make a real impact on climate and environment. Our owners and the outside world demand that.”

Arla has a superior goal of reducing CO2e emission by 30 per cent by 2030 and faster in some countries. Arla strives towards becoming completely climate neutral by 2050.

Facts: Arla’s Sustainability Incentive model for sustainability

  • Arla has earmarked up to 500 million EUR per year to reward climate actions on Arla farms through its Climate Check incentive and the new points-based Sustainability Incentive. With the first payment in August, approx. 300 million EUR has been activated, meaning that Arla in the 7.5 years until the end of 2030 will pay a total of at least 2.2 billion euro for sustainability activities on farm - an amount that is expected to increase as Arla farmers make further improvements.
  • Arla farmer earn points based on their climate and environmental initiatives. For each point the farmers earn, they will receive 0.03 eurocent per kilo milk in addition to the one eurocent that submitting Climate Check data already qualifies them for. The milk price will thus be dependent on the climate and environment initiatives implemented on their farms.
  • As of 2023, farmers can earn up to 80 points, and it is expected that further points will be added in the years to come as new science-based knowledge and technologies become available.
  • The incentive is being paid out monthly and will be updated quarterly. The first payment will take place on 14 August 2023 based on the farmers’ registered and documented activities as per 30 June 2023. Going forward, they will continuously be able to register new activities that may qualify for more points in the following quarter. Each year, following the annual Climate Check, the new data from here will also be part of an updated calculation of points.
  • Based on the registered data, the average first payment is 48 points, equal to 1.44 eurocent + 1 eurocent for submitting Climate Check, which is a prerequisite for the incentive. For an average Arla farmer with an annual production of around 1.6 million kilos of milk, 2.44 eurocent will add up to almost 40,000 EUR.
  • From 2021 to 2022 Arla’s total CO2e farm emissions per kilo of milk reduced by 2.4 per cent. This was due to a combination of improvements such as less use of fertilizer, more efficient production and use of feed, more appropriate manure storage, less fuel and energy consumption etc.
  • The model is part of Arla’s Scope 3 target of reducing CO2e emission by 30 per cent by end of 2030. You may read more about Arla’s climate goals here.

Arla Foods is an international dairy company owned by more than 8,400 farmers from Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Arla Foods is one of the leading players in the international dairy arena with well-known brands like Arla®, Lurpak®, Puck® and Castello®. Arla Foods is focused on providing good dairy nourishment from sustainable farming and operations and is also the world's largest manufacturer of organic dairy products.

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