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Slight decline in number of PlanetProof farmers

May 13, 2024 - Klaas van der Horst

The number of Dutch dairy farmers participating in the 'On the way to PlanetProof' scheme by SMK is slightly decreasing. This is evident from the organization's annual report. The area they use also decreased last year.

It's not about big differences, but it's clear that after several years of stabilization, there is no further growth, but rather a slight decrease in interest. 

SMK does not provide an explanation for the development in the annual report. The decrease is from about 800 participants over several years to 778 last year, while the area in use by them decreased from a peak in 2022 of 49,980 hectares to 48,733 hectares last year.

More certainty
In recent years, SMK has steadily increased the requirements for On the way to PlanetProof dairy. This year, a broader revision of the scheme will take place, after which various new requirements will apply from January 1, 2025. SMK's idea is also to provide a bit more certainty in advance to participants about whether they meet the requirements or not.

The existing uncertainty about meeting the requirements has been and still is a nuisance for many participants. Additionally, FrieslandCampina, where most participants are located, was not always predictable. In 2021, this cooperative stopped purchasing PlanetProof milk from a group of farmers in Twente because they were too far from the factory. Furthermore, FrieslandCampina has adjusted other milk streams, such as around the Foqus Planet program, through which members can also earn an extra fee, but without the requirements of the PlanetProof scheme.

Appeal to RCC
PlanetProof dairy is meanwhile available in many Dutch supermarkets. According to an announcement by SMK, dairy with the PlanetProof label accounts for 30% of fresh dairy sales in supermarkets. However, the label also faces opposition. Eight nature organizations have filed a complaint with the Advertising Code Committee (RCC) against the label, claiming it is actually harmful to nature and biodiversity as it would promote intensification of agriculture. The RCC initially ruled in their favor, but an appeal is still ongoing.

Klaas van der Horst

Klaas van der Horst is a senior market specialist in dairy at DCA Market Intelligence. He also closely monitors developments in politics and agricultural policy.
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