History of the IFCN
The establishment of a network like the IFCN is based on the contribution and passion from a large number of dairy related people. There are many ways to tell about the history of IFCN. Below you find my view on it (Torsten Hemme).
Finding a driving question: During my times as a student I liked to travel and also to work on dairy farms. Based on this I got experience on the various dairy systems which exist on different continents and the challenge that it is not easy to compare them.
The research challenge: In 1994 I got the opportunity to start my PhD research at the Federal Agricultural Research Centre (FAL) in Braunschweig, Germany in the field of dairy economics. The PhD research topic was developed by Folkhard Isermeyer (FAL) and Ron Knutson/James Richardson (AFPC - Texas A&M University). The idea was to find a way which combines the approach of Folkhard on international farm comparisons with the concept of typical farms / FLIPSIM modelling used at Texas A&M University.
The IFCN concept: A key challenge was to develop a concept which is able to balance out the force gravity and the centrifugal forces. The gravity was needed to hold the network together while the centrifugal force was needed to generate growth and speed in the network. Moreover there was a need to generate the resources to coordinate the network activities. The IFCN concept was developed via a private public partnership between the FAL and the Management Company Global-Farm GbR, which was in 2005 renamed to IFCN Dairy Research Center.
The first IFCN Dairy Report: In the year 2000 the first IFCN Dairy Report was published and the first company partnership was signed with DeLaval. At that time researchers from 8 countries participated and 21 typical farms were analysed. Moreover, in 2000 we have created a vision, research priorities and the values of the IFCN Dairy work and we defined the structure of the IFCN Dairy Report.
Reformation of the IFCN Dairy Research Center: Until 2005 the IFCN was affiliated to the FAL Braunschweig. In the year 2005 the FAL Braunschweig had to withdraw the private public partnership based on the decisions from the Ministry of Agriculture. As a consequence, the IFCN Dairy Research Center was created, with the goal to combine both, the research work and the network activities. Moreover the IFCN Support Association e.V. was created to support Master and PhD students willing to cooperate with the IFCN.
The development since 2005: By that time the IFCN Dairy Research Center moved to Kiel and started the cooperation with the Faculty of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences of the Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel. Until 2011 the IFCN Dairy Network has grown tremendously, having about 80 research partners in more than 70 countries, more than 70 dairy related companies and 5 dairy institutions participating.