What does a long-term sustainable dairy system look like?

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In this episode of the Feed Matters podcast, David Hunt, cofounder and strategic director at computer vision and artificial intelligence company, Cainthus, outlines some of the directions that dairy farming needs to move in to bolster its sustainability profile. 

In a recent industry note: 5 Challenges for more Sustainable Dairy​, Hunt explores what are “genuine big picture issues that dairy needs to improve on”.​ It was partly triggered by the many misleading claims against the dairy industry that have been gaining traction in the past few years, he said. 

But can we focus on sustainability right now given the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on dairy producers globally?  

Covid-19 is affecting all industries, not just agriculture, not just dairy, and it is a new factor that we now must consider when we are discussing what a long-term sustainable dairy system looks like. But Covid-19 is a relatively short-term shock to the sector that is showing us that we need to re-evaluate how we organize certain [aspects]. 

“Economic, social and environmental sustainability – those are long term issues that we need to address, and to lose focus on where the industry needs to be in the long-term in response to a short-term shock is not a good idea. The pandemic has shown us that dairy has struggled to reorganize its supply chains in the face of an unexpected enforced change in consumer behaviour. Demand has not necessarily reduced.” ​ 

In a post-Covid-19 world, the sector will need to think about on-farm automation and remote access, he said. Indeed, the pandemic has created a lot of opportunities, stressed Hunt. 

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