Written by: Emma Bravo and Leanna Sweha
The Dairy Challenges and Innovation in California and Europe initiative is seeking input from stakeholders and innovators across the dairy value chain.
This industry-led initiative will accelerate innovation to solve the most pressing economic and environmental challenges of dairy. Managed by The VINE in California and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the public-private initiative will identify and support opportunities to develop pre-competitive solutions and rapidly commercialize high-potential technology from around the world.
Dairy is a critical industry globally, and California is the leading producer in the U.S. Regulations, environmental impacts, market, and other pressures have led to a very challenging operating environment in both California and Europe.
The California Dairy Research Foundation (CDRF), which funds research for California’s dairy industry, is a major initiative partner, along with FME and NLWorks in the Netherlands. The CDRF reports initial challenges of better managing manure, enteric methane emissions, labor shortages, and the development of sustainability measurement standards.
Spread across the north coast of California, the San Joaquin Valley and the Los Angeles basin, economic issues have forced dairies to consolidate, leading to a significant decline. California is looking for a way to economically use and export large amounts of manure while following strict regulations in reducing greenhouse gasses and water management.
Similar regulatory problems plague the Netherlands. The number of dairies is decreasing, but there is still a large density of cows. The farms that stay in business take over the space and cows from farmers that stop farming. Currently, there is debate on how to implement dairy farming within this country which is densely populated with animals and people. The European Union’s Farm to Fork strategy includes ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gasses by half by 2030 and increase biological farming. Thirty percent of dairy farms may need to shutter in order to reach that goal. In an attempt to reduce nitrogen, the application of manure is regulated, with farmers injecting it into the soil. Farmers worked with the government to reduce the amount of nitrogen in the air, but the Dutch plan was struck down in court. As a response to that ruling, demonstrations have occurred all over the country.
The initiative partners are leading an innovation roadmap to identify key industry challenges to growth and sustainability. Industry input is needed to validate these challenges. Following validation, a global innovation scan will identify innovation gaps and high-potential technology solutions. Next is to assess the maturity and potential impact of these solutions and to obtain industry prioritization . Finally, opportunities for collaborative pre-competitive projects and rapid commercialization of high-potential technology solutions will be identified and promoted.
Dairy value chain stakeholders are invited to validate the following priority challenges: manure management, enteric methane emissions, labor shortages, and sustainability measurement standards.
Projects are targeted to begin in the fall. The initiative timeline is accelerated but will provide for a thorough process and complement other dairy innovation programs around the globe.
If you are a dairy value chain stakeholder, please complete this survey to validate the priority challenges: priority challenges survey
Technology providers who would like their solutions included in the global innovation scan can complete this survey: Innovation Questionnaire