Regenerative dairy co-op presented with King’s Award for Sustainable Development

6 June 2024

British farmer-owned dairy co-operative, First Milk was presented with the King’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development on Friday 31 May, in recognition of its outstanding achievements in regenerative agriculture.

The ceremony took place at First Milk member farm, Torpenhow Farmhouse Dairy, with His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria, Mr Alexander Scott, attending to present the co-op with Britain’s most prestigious business award.

Awarded each year to products and businesses that benefit the environment, society and economy, this presentation comes following First Milk’s extensive work to establish a pioneering regenerative agriculture programme in the dairy industry. A certified B-Corporation, First Milk is committed to farming with nature, measuring its impact and delivering continual improvement every day.

With over 700 family-run farms in the co-op working towards a better future, First Milk’s regenerative dairy programme is having an impact on huge areas of farmland across England, Scotland and Wales. Its products are then supplied via partnerships to some of the UK’s largest multiple retailers and food and beverage brands as well as to export markets, meaning millions of shoppers are supporting regenerative agriculture during their weekly shop.

In 2022, First Milk launched Golden Hooves, a regenerative milk vending project that soon expanded into cheese products sold exclusively through independent retailers, including farm shops, delis and local stores. Now producing a Mature Cheddar, Vintage Cheddar, Smoked Cheddar and Red Leicester, Golden Hooves was named by The Good Shopping Guide as one of its Top 200 Ethical Businesses for 2024 and has picked up accolades at the British Cheese Awards and the Virtual Cheese Awards this year.

United by a shared commitment to healthy soil, healthy cows and a healthy planet, First Milk’s members have developed regenerative methods to suit their own farms across the country. Using grazing cows to work the land with their magic hooves, these farms are taking steps to continually encourage plant and wildlife biodiversity, protect the soil and maintain living roots, in the process removing carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it into the soil.

Commenting on the award, Shelagh Hancock, Chief Executive of First Milk, said:

“We were delighted to be presented with the King’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development last Friday, which is fantastic recognition of the extensive work going on across our business around regenerative thinking and sustainability, especially our market-leading regenerative agriculture programme delivered by our 700 farmers.

“Our whole approach is closely aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring our actions help improve human lives and protect the environment – all while we produce great-tasting, nutritious dairy products for consumers to enjoy.”

His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria, Mr Alexander Scott, added:

“The achievements of First Milk are not just beneficial to the environment but also vital for the farming community in both Cumbria and nationwide. First Milk’s sustainable initiatives have fostered stronger relationships with local farmers, promoted biodiversity, and ensured the longevity of the natural resources that our rural economies depend on. By placing sustainability at the core of its operations, First Milk has demonstrated that economic success and environmental responsibility can indeed go hand in hand.”

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