Finland: Valio pays sustainability bonus

In Finland from the beginning of 2021, all 4300 member dairy farms of the biggest dairy cooperative Valio commit to Valio’s sustainability criteria. Every dairy farm supplying milk to Valio is now paid a sustainability bonus of two cents per litre. In order to receive the bonus, the farm must practice preventive animal healthcare and systematic monitoring of animal welfare. Since 2018 Valio has paid a sustainability bonus to those dairy farms committed to taking voluntary actions to improve animal welfare. The sustainability programme requires farms to take measures to improve the welfare of cows beyond what is required by the Animal Welfare Act. A veterinarian makes a healthcare visit to the farm at least once a year to assess the animal welfare and practices at the farm, and to set goals for the farm for the upcoming year. The goals and corrective measures are recorded in Naseva, the Centralised Health Care Register for Finnish Cattle Herds. Other requirements for receiving the sustainability bonus include regular hoof treatment, and the use of anaesthetics, sedation and pain relief during disbudding, i.e. the removal of a calf’s horn buds. The sustainability criteria also require that any new barns built at the dairy farm must be freestall barns, which allow the cows to move about freely. Valio’s focus will be on increasing grazing and year-round outdoor activity of cows. Currently, grazing of one or more animal groups occurs at some 70 per cent of the farms. Also Valio will continue efforts to reduce climate emissions from milk production with many farm-specific measures, like carbon farming and biogas production from cattle manure.

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