Katrine Lecornu is dairy farmer from France. She and her husband have six children and manage a farm with about 120 cows in Nonant, Normandie. Katrine became a member of the European Dairy Farmers (EDF) in 2000. In 2013, she was elected as the first female EDF president. Originally Katrine is from Norway. In 2016, she was appointed as Honorary Consul of the Royal Consulate of Norway.
Milk production on the move: Challenges and Strategies by European Dairy Farmers By KATRINE LECORNU and HENNING HELMS, European Dairy Farmers e.V., Grüner Kamp 19-21, 24768
Rendsburg, Germany, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.dairyfarmer.net
For over 30 years, the EU’s dairy sector has operated within the framework of milk quotas. In April 2015, it expired – bringing chances but also challenges for EU farms which produce under
diverse conditions in terms of climate & landscape, legal rules, farming & processing structures, culture, … despite a common market.
The main challenge for each farm is to adjust as best as possible to these conditions in order being able to produce economically successful in the long run. Reasonable cost of production
is a key but is not reality in many farms, having in mind the great variation between farms in particular within countries. The variation in costs reflects the diversity in site conditions and the
skills, abilities & ambitions of each farmer being able to adjust to it. Reasonable costs base on healthy cows and high quality forage. Therefore, excellent skills in herd and field management
are indispensable. But it is also about strategic analysis, planning & implementation: The output (milk yield of the cows) must match with the input intensity of the system (labour, capital) that
results from site conditions and investment decisions.
Individual challenges (but also chances) of the EU farms are as diverse as the conditions under which they produce. They are often somehow linked to the increasing scarcity of land and
labour. (New) Increasing volatility is highly stressful for farmers. Managing it is key – in particular against the background of ongoing farm growth with more and more bought-in
resources. The awareness of this fact and the necessary skills are often not available yet.
Benchmarking and exchanging knowledge & experiences between individuals is a key for success. That is what the members of the European Dairy Farmers e.V. believe in: “Somewhere,
there is someone who has a similar challenge as you and maybe already a promising idea or a proofed solution! You need to find him, talk to him and get inspired.”
However, all that individual challenges of the farms should not make them forget a challenge the sector is facing in its whole: The societal demands in terms of food security, environment
& animal protection which need to be met to get the “licence to produce”. Farmers must learn to accept it and to act accordingly. And this is, maybe, the biggest challenges as it requires a
change in mind-set.