A dairy project aiming to create 600 new jobs in south-west Scotland and Cumbria has been awarded more than £21m of funding.
The Digital Dairy Value-Chain, led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) with the support of other universities and dairy companies, is a new initiative to help dairy farmers in the region.
The project wants to use research and new technology to help the dairy sector reduce carbon emissions, access skilled labour and improve traceability and efficiency in the supply chain.
After receiving £21.3m from the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Strength in Places fund, the project will be based at SRUC’s Barony campus near Dumfries, as well as at sites in Cumbria and across south-west Scotland.
The University of Strathclyde, University of the West of Scotland, CENSIS, First Milk, Lactalis UK & Ireland, Kendal Nutricare, Cows & Co Group, National Milk Records and SmartSTEMS are among the partners involved in the project.
NFU Scotland’s dairy policy expert Stuart Martin said it was encouraging to see the project directly linking with so many dairy stakeholders based in Scotland.
“This is welcome news to not only the region, but to a dairy sector in Scotland that has experienced a malaise in this type of forward-looking activity and investment in the past few years,” said Mr Martin.
“Recent figures highlight the huge importance of the dairy sector to the rural economy in Scotland and those who milk cows are continually asked to play an increasing role in delivering efficiency on farm and showing adaptability to climate change.”
Farmers, academics and environmental groups in Scotland have recently agreed a set of policy recommendations to achieve net-zero in agriculture by 2045.
Professor Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive of SRUC, said: “This funding is wonderful news for the dairy industry in Cumbria and south-west Scotland, as well as for the renewal and decarbonisation of the industry as a whole.
“It will provide a world-class platform for business innovation in advanced, sustainable, high-value dairy production and processing. SRUC and our partners are excited to be moving to the next phase of this fantastic project.”