The collaborative plan involved DairyNZ, Fonterra and Government ministries working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Bennett said New Zealand farmers were among the most efficient in the world and the industry-led initiative would build on that efficiency.
“This establishes the foundation for the dairy sector – farmers, scientists and rural professionals – to work together to address farm biological emissions.”
The plan involved three actions.
DairyNZ would work to raise awareness with 16 climate change workshops around the country, identify climate change champions and train rural professionals at the Massey University greenhouse gas course.
DairyNZ and the Primary Industries Ministry would establish 10 partnership farms to identify system changes that could be used on real dairy farms.
Fonterra would run an onfarm greenhouse gas recording pilot with up to 100 Fonterra suppliers to provide them with a report.
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said modern, science-based farming was the way to achieve a future for NZ where dairy farming had a lower environmental footprint.
“This plan lays down the foundation for dairy’s sustained, strategic approach to a lower carbon future.
“We’re taking the first steps in understanding what dairy can do – in conjunction with the wider agricultural sector plus industry and urban communities – to help meet NZ’s Paris Agreement emissions reduction target.
“Our farmers are already working on lowering emissions – they are used to rising to challenges and they’re dedicated stewards of their land who want to do the right thing by the environment.”
Fonterra’s Farm Source chief operating officer Miles Hurrell said it was crucial to take an integrated approach to all the challenges facing dairy – from climate change and animal welfare to the protection of waterways while maintaining ther productivity and profitability of dairy.
“The plan complements the environmental commitment dairy farmers have voluntarily undertaken through their work under the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.
“Some of their work, such as tree planting, better soil management and reducing nitrogen leaching, therefore reducing the release of nitrous oxide, is already helping to address emissions.
“Then there are the other science-based endeavours that are well under way, like the research to breed cows that produce fewer methane emissions and a methane-inhibiting vaccine.”
Bennett said the plan would not be the silver bullet.
“It’s not the one thing that’s going to reduce carbon emissions but what it is, is a collaborative way forward.
“It’s a commitment from the sector to do its part. I applaud agriculture for that and I thank them for it.”