Particular attention, in primary production, to respecting a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system (editorial by the president of the Grana Padano Consortium for the Zootechnical Informator)

“Respect” for animals bred to produce food for humans is a fundamental principle of our culture. In recent years there has been growing attention from consumers who increasingly require greater guarantees welfare for farmed animals.
This strong social push has led the legislator to promulgate specific rules and to increasingly require targeted controls in the sector by the Competent Authorities for a continuous verification of the breeding conditions of livestock animals.
The productive and zootechnical world immediately seized the opportunity not only from an ethical point of view but above all aware of the fact that animal welfare influences other components of breeding, in particular the food safety and the environment.
Good breeding practices, which take into consideration the state of animal welfare, make it possible to reduce the onset of clinical or subclinical diseases in

Renato Zaghini is the president of the Grana Padano Protection Consortium

increase in production efficiency, which is the main weapon for reducing environmental impact, as well as reducing the need to use veterinary medicines.

The project

Based on these premises, the Consortium for the protection of Grana Padano cheese has defined a

project to enhance the image of milk suppliers intended for the production of Grana Padano, making the entire production chain particularly attentive to breeding conditions and the well-being of the animals raised, basic elements for discussing sustainability in animal husbandry. In simplistic terms we can summarize the activity as a general stimulus aimed at strengthening the image of the consumer’s supply chain to the consumer.
The context: 3,842 dairy cow farms are currently registered with the PDO Grana Padano, distributed across 5 Italian regions and 33 provinces; The complexity of the territory is clearly evident and includes 2,471 lowland farms (64%), with significant numbers of animals raised, and 1,371 mountain farms (36%), traditional realities.
More than 2.8 million tonnes of raw milk per year are destined for the production of Grana Padano Dop.
Project objectives:
1. accelerate the transition process towards a more sustainable farming model;
2. improve animal welfare;
3. raise the quality and healthiness of agri-food production;
4. combat the phenomenon of antimicrobial resistance (AMR);
5. make the agri-food market more transparent.

Company veterinarians

The Consortium’s activity will use the collaboration of company veterinarians and the system of the Ministry of Health called as a starting point Classyfarm.
The company veterinarians, as reiterated by Reg. (EU) 429/16, represent the first interlocutor of the farmers, they are freely chosen by the latter and are in fact their company consultant.
Based on this report, the influence of this figure on the choices that can lead farmers to important structural and/or management changes is immediately clear.

The Classyfarm system

Classyfarm is an IT platform included in the national public veterinary portal (, which processes a considerable amount of data from various sources (collected in the field or from other information systems) through specific business intelligence processes, such as:

  • evaluations in the field of animal welfare and farm biosecurity;
  • consumption and susceptibility to antimicrobials;
  • main farm parameters (health conditions, production data and nutrition);
  • slaughterhouse surveys of health and well-being data.

The information collected in the field can come from official controls carried out by the Competent Authorities, from audits by certifiers, from company veterinarians, appropriately trained to carry out self-control activities.
The Classyfarm system is based on interoperability with other IT systems, such as the Livestock Registry (Bdn), the electronic veterinary prescription and the diagnostic laboratories of the experimental zooprophylactic institutes, thus guaranteeing the analysis and comparison of a large number of information coming from different sources, so as to be able to grade farms in terms of: animal welfare, biosecurity, consumption of antimicrobials, antimicrobial-susceptibility profiles.
In this way the system, if implemented correctly, will make available information aggregated at different geographical levels allowing the territory monitoring and the comparison between different territorial areas. Therefore, any deficiencies at farm or geographical area level (regions, autonomous provinces and local health authorities) can be quickly identified so as to direct improvement processes.
The advantage for a production chain like that of Grana Padano is clear, as it will thus be able to have an overall picture of the different production areas and will be able to intervene, within its competence, as quickly as possible to resolve any problems with potential repercussions on the image. and transparency of Grana Padano Dop.
It is important to remember that the ownership of the data entered into Classyfarm belongs to the individual breeder, the Consortium, as well as the first processing plant, will be able to see the information (in compliance with privacy and ministerial indications) only if delegated by the latter. This is a further indicator of responsibility on the part of the production world which opens the doors of its business management in a transparent manner.

The working methodology

The working methodology will include these steps:
1. Collection and analysis of available data, in the national Classyfarm system, in collaboration with all members of the Consortium.
2. Development of a complete and updated picture of the territorial situation in the five regions involved, with highlighted strengths and weaknesses.
3. Meetings with companies and processing plants, valorisation of projects already adopted, definition of intervention priorities with respect to the areas found most lacking and methods of involving farmers and company veterinarians.
4. Training/information of company veterinarians, who, based on their role, will be the guarantors in supporting farmers in achieving the set objectives.
5. Activities on farms by company veterinarians, who, through the use of available good practice manuals, will be able to highlight to farmers the areas for improvement and define with them the resolution methods; all these operations must be recorded in the system in such a way as to make the path transparent.

The Consortium will ensure coordination at central leveleach dairy (processing plant), milk producer, will identify a contact person who will interface with the central level, both for the monitoring of the activities and for the examination of the problems and above all to have an account of the non-conformities detected and their resolution with the possible adoption of the measures deemed most appropriate to protect its image.
Furthermore, at the beginning of each year a second-party audit program will be defined to monitor the activity carried out at a local level and an internal and external impact of the results achieved will be continuously guaranteed, defining their valorisation, possibly also at the internal of the SNQBA system, which could become operational during the year.
Regarding the overall score indicated by the Classyfarm system, of particular interest will not be its value but investigate and bring to the attention of the supply chainas cited, above which aspects are important to improve the contents in order to increase what is of primary interest, especially a greater valorisation of breeding.
Planning: development in the three-year period 2024/2027

The expected results

The project presents a series of opportunities and strengths. Thanks to a comparison activity, each breeder will have incentives to progressively improve through shared experiences that will help them achieve the set objectives.
The processing plants will no longer only have guarantees on the hygienic and health qualities of the raw milk purchased from their suppliers but will be able to easily represent to the consumer the snapshot of a supply chain that, right from primary production, is attentive to those issues that are increasingly requested by citizens today. .
The Consortiumtogether with the control body, with the affixing of the PDO mark to the wheels will witness this leap in quality, therefore not only product excellence but also protection of the well-being of farmed animals; and this will be a fundamental investment to involve the new generations in the direction of a healthy, correct and environmentally friendly diet.