Farmers carrying out at least five sustainable actions and measures under the Lakeland Dairies farm sustainability strategy will receive a 0.5c/l payment.

The measures include having 80% of heifers calved before 26 months, the development of a water quality plan, adding a family member or partner to the shareholding and genomic testing on all breeding heifers.

Other actions include milk recording, planting trees or hedgerows, increased use of sexed semen and a reduction in somatic cell count.

Farmers in Northern Ireland will receive a 0.5p/l payment under the strategy. The incentive payment runs from 2024 to 2026 and it has been designed to support suppliers in reducing the carbon footprint of their dairy enterprise, while delivering benefits for water quality, biodiversity, soil health and animal welfare.

Lakeland Dairies chair Niall Matthews said: “Building on current initiatives and programmes, we are committed to exploring new avenues of innovation and we are actively engaging with our stakeholders to shape a sustainable future for Lakeland Dairies and the farm families who we serve.”

Eamon Duignan, general manager of Lakeland Dairies member relations, said the payment has been designed to build on the strong start and actions being made by farmers while ensuring the measures are verifiable and credible.

“Adopting sustainable measures at farm level is a critical part of safeguarding dairy farms for future generations,” he said.