Unigate introduces Forage Plus
PLANS to extend Unigates voluntary farm assurance scheme, Superior Stockmanship, to areas of grassland and environmental management were unveiled at the European Dairy Farming Event.
The new scheme, called Forage Plus is a joint initiative between Unigate, FWAG and Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) and will pay producers milk bonuses for reaching standards.
Although too early to say exactly how much bonuses would be worth to milk producers, Unigates Bryan Pocock said that bonuses would be within the same range as Superior Stockmanship – up to 0.6p/litre – but at the lower end of this.
"We realise there are costs to operating parts of the scheme and would like to reward producers.
"Forage makes up large proportion of the cows diet, and so we have attempted to close the chain in complete farm assurance for dairy farmers.
"There is already a level of commitment from dairy farmers to environmental management, but there is a lack of focus. This scheme will formalise commitment," said Mr Pocock
Producers following guidelines for the scheme will need to formally identify and record efficient and careful management of forage production, farm waste handling and processing and conservation ideas and techniques.
Under the scheme, areas at risk from farm practices, such as slurry disposal, or areas in need of positive conservation action will be outlined in written reports, field records and future plans, said Mr Pocock.
The other parties welcomed the initiative. Richard Knight, national technical manager for FWAG, said the scheme combined sound business practice with common sense.
Taking arable principles into grassland management was how Caroline Drummond, LEAF Project co-ordinator, described Forage Plus. "Its bringing forage record keeping into line with whole farm initiatives. It will address customer concerns about product traceability by more detailed recording of forage production."
Forage Plus begins as a separate scheme from Superior Stockmanship and will be available for Unigates producers from Apr 1, 1999.