Since 2001, World Milk Day has been a moment to celebrate milk and dairy products as nutrient-rich foods, as well as recognize the crucial role that the dairy sector plays in supporting the livelihoods of one billion people. This year, World Milk Day is spotlighting how dairy farming is reducing its environmental footprint while continuing to provide nutrition in the face of global food insecurity and livelihoods for communities around the world.  

Recognizing the critical intersection of sustainable dairy farming, food security and thriving economies, the Zoetis Foundation is proud to spotlight the Instituto Biosistêmico (IBS) and its work promoting sustainable dairy production. IBS provides guidance, technical assistance, and rural extension services to 1,800 dairy producers throughout Brazil with a focus on innovation and sustainability. 

With two years of grant support from the Zoetis Foundation, IBS is helping improve animal health, farm management, milk quality, and strengthen livelihoods for dairy producers in Brazil. Taking a holistic approach, IBS works through six dimensions to support participating dairy farmers: reproductive management, sanitary management, nutrition management, zootechnical management, training, and overall best practices to support operations. 

“By adopting sustainable dairy farming practices, we can help minimize our impact on the environment, bolster economic opportunity and ensure that nutritious dairy products are available to communities worldwide,” said Jeannette Ferran Astorga, President of the Zoetis Foundation. “Through innovative technology and knowledge on animal health and sustainability, Instituto Biosistêmico illustrates what’s possible when we equip family farms with the tools to succeed.” 

IBS formed the Projecto Cooplaf to promote the development of dairy farming with the Cooplaf cooperative, a group of 100 milk producers from settlements in the county of Terenos. Projecto Cooplaf provides dairy producers with a set of structured technological services and resources to advance the production process to improve animal health as well as milk quality and productivity. In 2022, Projecto Cooplaf successfully increased dairy productivity among 154 producers across 100 family farms through technical support strategies, monthly cooperative meetings, and improvements in milk production practices such as nutritional planning. After the conclusion of the project’s program in 2022, the cooperative saw an increase of 19% in the average volume of milk produced per hectare (the equivalent of 2.725 acres). Projecto Cooplaf has also helped strengthen social relationships among the dairy farmers, leading to more active participation and improvements in the management process of the cooperative. 

“I can already feel the difference. It improved a lot with the guidance, land analysis, and improvement in milk production advice from technicians,” said Veranilda Gomes de Oliveira, a milk producer assisted by Projecto Cooplaf. 

“With the support of the Zoetis Foundation, IBS has been expanding farmer solutions and services for sustainable agriculture and rural development. The partnership with the families in the Cooplaf cooperative, the contribution of veterinary and zootechnical knowledge, the investment in innovative technologies and the training on production processes have enabled greater income and prosperity in the field. This partnership makes our mission possible," said Luis Henrichsen, Corporate Director of IBS. 

Now in its second year of grant funding from the Zoetis Foundation, IBS plans to promote the development of sustainable, productive, and high-quality dairy farming among an estimated 180 producers across 100 family farms in the Seridó region of Northeast Brazil. IBS will host in-person training sessions to help connect family farmers and local veterinary professionals with the knowledge and resources needed to support efficient milk production. The work in this region has already begun with livestock best practices and in June 2023, will continue with reproductive management and animal health activities. 

Dairy farming is a crucial sector that contributes significantly to global food security and the well-being of farmers and their communities worldwide, and the Zoetis Foundation is excited to support innovative solutions to advance sustainable dairy farming practices. Dairy products provide essential nutrients for a healthy diet, and dairy farming supports the livelihoods of many people, particularly those in rural areas. The sustainable development of dairy farming, with an emphasis on animal health and environmental protection, is essential for a secure and healthy food supply for generations to come.