Meeting The Co-operative Difference with Fonterra

Alison Worth on 12/10/21 03:39

FarmIQ news

Are you a Fonterra supplier? If so, then you’ll be aware of The Co-operative Difference. In this blog, we talk about Industry Assurance Programmes (IAPs) and focus on Fonterra's The Co-operative Difference and how FarmIQ helps you to provide the evidence to meet their requirements.  
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We farm in an age where transparency and traceability are first and foremost in the minds of our consumers. Never has data and information about how, where, when and what we do on-farm been so valuable – from inside the farm gate, right through to our consumer’s plate.

Meat, milk and fibre processors - the middle links of this supply chain - have had to respond to our needs at one end and consumers at the other; which is not an easy task. Organising existing data and discovering what’s missing but essential to meet market and legislative requirements, at the same time as modernising strategies and being cost-effective is an uphill struggle.  

Enter the IAP, or Industry Assurance Programme - a processor’s solution to gathering required farm data and information in an orderly manner. I know you’re thinking “farming as an industry is awash with plans and programmes!”  but hear me outWhether you’ve done your farm environment plan (FEP) or invested hours preparing for an audit; you’ll have the first-hand experience of the benefits they provide and here’s a few of the most obvious:  

  • Many IAP’s offer premiums or incentives. 
  • They provide feedback on your farm systems and practices that contributes to continuous improvement – this, in turn, encourages innovation.  
  • Following a plan or programme helps us understand market requirements and keeps us on task - they make us more likely to be successful.  
  • Timely information and data enables value capture throughout the supply chain 
  • Knowing what’s going on on-farm allows marketers to tell product stories with integrity – connecting farmers with consumers on a two-way street.  

Most importantly, central government have recognised the value that IAP’s contribute to policy development, market access and NZ Inc., and are likely to include them in their Integrated Farm Planning (IFP) framework as compliance pathways, making the whole process more streamlined and less costly for all involved.  

FarmIQ lives and breathes every angle of assurance programmes as they underpin our ‘why’. The most recent IAP we’ve engaged with is Fonterra’s The Cooperative Difference.  Like all others, it’s categorised into the standard sections – People & Community, Animals, Environment and Prosperity. All Fonterra suppliers need to meet the requirements within to achieve the incentive and they’re fully supported with some great resources, such as Tiaki.   

We do not believe any IAP requirements are onerous or difficult to achieve but there may be potential for some bottlenecks and under-equipped farmers to fall short.  

To that end, how can we make IAP’s work in a way that supports everyday on-farm actions and activate the many cross-benefits?  Here’s my top tips: 

  1. Make sure you understand how any incentives or premiums within an IAP or FAP can be achieved within your farm system as it is now
  2. Work out and make a list of any changes that need to be made to meet the requirements. 
  3. Have a feasibility discussion with your team – understand the return on investment, especially with voluntary programmes such as NZFAP. This will support your engagement with the programme and validate the ‘what’s in it for me?’ question that always arises in tougher times. 
  4. Be straight up with your processor/s – they value and need good honest feedback about what you think and how you’re managing.  
  5. Use FarmIQ to record everyday on-farm actions as they happen. Every IAP, FAP and FEP will be audited so be sure to have all the evidence and documentation ready to present online for your auditors and regulators.  
  6. And lastly, remember, many of the best benefits may not be financial but are priceless in the long run.  

Make a start at your end of the supply chain now. We’ve put together a handy guide showing you how you can manage many of The Co-operative Difference requirements using FarmIQ.   

By Alison Worth - Subject Matter Expert: Environment & Compliance.

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