Torsten Hemme, IFCN Dairy Research Center
Yes we can, according to Torsten Hemme of the IFCN Dairy Research Center in Kiel, Germany. Hemme spoke to an international audience of dairy producers and business leaders this afternoon at Alltech's 27th Symposium.
The IFCN, or International Farm Comparison Network, is an organization that researches global agriculture economics. Since 2006 the dairy industry has experienced highly volatile world milk and feed prices. This has led to very volatile milk-to-feed ratios worldwide. Therefore, IFCN has been examining dairy farming systems worldwide and benchmarking them for performance across a wide range of factors.
With over 145 million dairy cows globally, milk production represents the major share of costs, employment, resource consumption and emissions associated with the dairy industry. Therefore, it is important to make certain that the appropriate farming system is being used in each region. IFCN is working on benchmarking dairy farming systems and their relationship to sustainability, economic, environmental and social indicators. Finding the right farming system for the future will help dairy regions define their strategy.
Results to date are very interesting. For instance the largest and most productive farms, as seen in Western Europe, have the highest production costs per kg of milk. The farms with the lowest production costs are typically very small farms in Asia and Africa.
Global milk production is documented by small farms, high yield does not make a low cost farm was the conclusion drawn by Torsten.