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R4D Meeting in Italy - When farmers learn from farmers

The Italian participants of the project "Resilience 4 dairy"  met in San Benedetto Po (Mn) at Kristian Minelli's farm for a healthy, fair and mercantile discussion on the future of the sector.

What are the challenges facing dairy farmers in the coming years and what are the strategies to be truly resilient and open to a concretely sustainable animal husbandry? With the R4D (Resilience for dairy) project, now in its second year of full operation, the EU is asking farmers to take an active part and to share with colleagues from 15 European countries the priorities and solutions to the problems faced every day by professionals of animal husbandry.

In Italy, the project is coordinated by CRPA of Reggio Emilia and is carried out thanks to a panel of breeders and industry experts, who periodically meet to align with the work done by other European partners. The last meeting in chronological order was at the Minelli’s family stable in San Benedetto Po (Mn) to discuss the issues of sustainability and the ability to face the new challenges that the market imposes.

This is the first Akis (Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System) experiment specifically designed for Italian milk producers involving 10 farmers from 3 regions (Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto) and 5 experts from the world of research and dissemination.

Among the hot topics is the need to encourage generational turnover by attracting young people to the stables and the lack of communication capable of sharing the daily commitment of farmers with the final consumer to create a dairy chain where animal welfare, less consumption of veterinary drugs and environmental protection are the pillars.

From the discussion and the data that emerged from a recent survey conducted in all the countries participating in the project, here are the points on which Italian farmers pay the most attention:

1) re-educate and inform especially younger generations about livestock farming;

2) improve heat stress management;

3) improvement of the representativeness of farmers in decision-making contexts;

4) greater use of automatic feeding systems (mixer wagons, distributors and automatic feed pushers, calf-rail);

5) improvement of farmers' communication skills about their contribution to society;

6) correct management of colostrum;

7) increase in the production of renewable energies on the farm (biogas, wind, photovoltaic...);

8) strategies for generational turnover (support and planning);

9) creation of a strong link between farms and local communities of stakeholders (e.g. citizens, buyers, workers, administrators);

10) simplification in the management and organization of work (LEAN management).

A different way to develop operational proposals in which "farmers learn from farmers", thanks to an exchange without intermediaries between colleagues, with different experiences and needs in their nature, but oriented towards the same goal:  increasing the sustainability of the milk chain.

More informations in the Article here (Italian)