Since 2015, the Dutch dairy sector has exclusively used soy certified as 100% responsible in dairy cow feed, whereby all purchased soy must be certified to be in conformity with Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) criteria, or similar. FrieslandCampina member dairy farmers can only buy concentrates from feed suppliers that comply with the GMP+ module, to ensure compliance of all soy in cow rations with RTRS criteria.
Despite this certification and the checks carried out, it cannot be guaranteed that 100% of the soy supplied is produced entirely without deforestation, said the partners. “This is why FrieslandCampina, together with Agrifirm, has taken the initiative to get this 100% deforestation-free stream going.”
The Dutch cooperatives say they are determined to accelerate the supply of such responsibly produced soy, with Agrifirm pledging to deliver this ‘deforestation-free’ soy to FrieslandCampina’s dairy farmers during the course of 2022.
Under the feed producer’s definition of deforestation-free, there is a cut-off date of December 31, 2020, which is in line with the recently published EU proposal for regulation of deforestation free commodities.
A cut-off date specifies the permissibility of deforestation or conversion based on the timing of such events on the ground. This means that any clearance of natural forest after the cut-off date will render the affected area or production unit, and the commodity produced there, non-compliant with no-deforestation commitments.
"We are focusing on both legal and illegal deforestation," a spokesperson for Agrifirm told FeedNavigator.
FrieslandCampina and Agrifirm are also encouraging other feed companies to join their initiative targeting dairy farming. The demand is there, but volumes of deforestation-free soy need to be boosted, they argue.
Hein Schumacher, CEO at FrieslandCampina, said its members want to be able to rely on the fact that their soy is free from deforestation.
“That is why we are now starting a pilot [program] with the agricultural cooperative and feed supplier, Agrifirm, so that, in 2022, approximately one-third of our members [Agrifirm's contract only covers 30% of that cohort of farmers] can switch to guaranteed deforestation-free soy. However, together with Agrifirm, we want to challenge the rest of the livestock feed sector to take more steps in this direction faster and where possible, we will help them to achieve this. Because, as cooperatives, we know that you achieve more together than alone.”
Ruud Tijssens, group director public and cooperative affairs at Agrifirm, said: “Our goal is to ensure 100% of the soy required by dairy farmers is guaranteed to be harvested from non-deforested fields. The social cost of soy production must not be at the expense of nature, climate or farmers. The additional costs of this guarantee will be passed on to the market, thus avoiding a cost increase for dairy farmers. Ultimately, we want to be able to offer farmers 100% guaranteed deforestation-free soy. We believe this is possible, which is why we are taking part in this large-scale trial.”
"If we have positive results in the trial, FrieslandCampina will implement this as the standard for the soy in the feed of its dairy farmers, which, automatically, will lead to the scale up of this approach. But we hope that other dairy companies will [follow suit, leading to even wider impact]," said the Agrifirm representative.