“Since establishing the awards over four years ago we’ve started to see significant change in on-farm practices,” Miraka’s milk supply general manager Grant Jackson says.
“It’s not just about meeting the regulations – that’s a mandatory for us.
“It’s all about how to go over and above, to achieve absolute excellence in areas like animal welfare, sustainable land management, looking after employees and premium quality milk.”
Of the 104 participating farms, 17 achieved a score of 90% or more, and Te Raparahi Lands Trust took out the top prize with a score of 100%.
Just 10 farms scored over 90% when the awards began four years ago. The excellence standards include a mix of mandatory and optional criteria. Optional criteria are allocated points and results are financially incentivised over and above a market competitive base milk price.
“When Miraka first bought the standards out I thought they looked pretty challenging” top award winner Tracey Simpson of Te Raparahi Lands Trust says.
“I was worried it was too much pressure for farmers and that we would never be able to meet all of them.
“But there has been a real change in the farming community recently.
“We know that strong environmental practices are good for the land and they also make financial sense.”
Te Raparahi Lands Trust chairman Phillip Samuels says the team at Te Raparahi Lands Trust has been working on a holistic farming approach for over 10 years.
“For us it’s about having shared goals and pushing ourselves to do more.
“Last year we used our incentive payment to purchase a new Halo monitoring system for our farms, which has been a great investment.
“Miraka’s approach is helping create a paradigm shift within New Zealand farming, to encourage farmers to start making positive changes,” Samuels says.
Each year Miraka is seeing more farmers grow and accelerate change within the programme.
“At Miraka we value kaitiakitanga , we support decisions with a long-term view,” Miraka’s kaitiaki and environmental leadership general manager Murray Hemi says.
“It’s about building resilience into our business and living our values while creating top quality dairy products.
“Our farmers are really starting to see the value in our approach. It’s pretty exceptional to have so many of our farms hitting really high targets.”