Danone and Farre: a story of integrated farming

Summary

Danone has been a member of Farre, the French Forum for integrated farming, for over 12 years. Here are a few insights into this collaboration and the way it fits into the group’s core strategy.

17Sept.
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Ever heard of integrated farming? It is a comprehensive approach to agriculture which takes into account its impacts and effects in a wide range of areas: agronomy, economy, quality, safety and society, to name but a few. In other words, integrated farming pursues the aim of

reinforcing the positive impacts of agriculture on the environment and reducing its negative effects, while supporting the economic viability of farms.

This definition can be found on the website of Farre, the French Forum for Integrated Farming and Respect for the Environment. The association was created in 1993. Danone joined in 1999, because the two entities share common goals and can benefit from each other’s expertise.

 

Help design the agriculture of tomorrow

Farre was created at the beginning of the 1990s to promote integrated farming in two main ways. One is to bring together farmers, cooperatives, syndicates, agro-industrial companies, technical institutes, banks, etc. and help them share their knowledge, thanks to a 1000-member forum. The other is to raise awareness, among the public and among other professionals, whether they belong to the agricultural world or not, through a network of farms where people can become acquainted with the principles of integrated farming. There is in fact room to “educate the public”, as integrated farming distances itself from classic agriculture but remains distinct from organic farming. Jean-Marie Mutschler, former director of Farre, explains:

Although it shares many principles and aims with organic farming, such as the preservation of soil and balances, integrated farming is less radical. The idea is to reconcile economy and ecology while meeting qualitative goals and ensuring the highest level of security.

Such a program is also at the heart of Danone’s approach, which explains why Farre has been a partner of the group for over 12 years now. In an interview that he gave to Farre, Jean-Pierre Rennaud, Environment Director at Danone, explains that one of the group’s aims is to

support the practices of sustainable agriculture in every country where we are established, and ensure their promotion worldwide.

Danone is taking action to reduce the environmental impact of its products, at each step of its life-cycle. As the agriculture upstream is a key element in the chain of production, it is only logical that a range of efforts are being made in that field. As part of these, Danone joined the Forum in 1999, and has been a contributor to the definition and implementation of new environmental norms ever since. The group notably supports the development of equivalences between the different frames of reference in place in Europe. Of course, another focus of the group’s efforts is including more and more responsible farmers in its production system (as is also demonstrated by the pilot projects that Danone leads with the French Livestock Institute). This has been so successful that, in 2008, 50% of integrated-farming-certified French farmers were under contract with Danone.

Farre’s goals aim to help design the agriculture of tomorrow: farming that is more responsible, more respectful of the environment and that has the most positive impact possible while guaranteeing a livelihood for all the actors in the chain. Danone, working on the scale of an international corporation, endeavours to endorse and pursue this mission using the tools at its disposal.