By Dr Tim Mackle
This article first appeared in our sister publication, Dairy Farmer.
My time with DairyNZ has been an experience in celebrating the successes and embracing the challenges.
As a sector, we know how to farm well and we take great pride in delivering quality dairy food to Kiwis and the world. I’ve taken huge heart in how our farmers always rise up and continue to put their people, animals, environment and communities first.
We do that in the face of staffing challenges, milk price volatility, increasing regulation, disease and natural disasters and, more recently, inflation and high interest rates.
When dairy farmers stepped up as one of New Zealand’s essential services during the covid-19 lockdowns, adapting quickly to keep farming despite the constraints, it was in true Kiwi fashion.
I’m incredibly proud of our dedicated sector consistently delivering a significant contribution to the NZ economy. Last season dairy brought in $22 billion of export earnings, resulting in our sector contributing around $50bn to New Zealand’s economy.
Our sector was built by people focused on producing food for Kiwis and our global customers and much-needed export income for New Zealand.
That’s why I’m confident that the sector is well-placed as we look to the future.
A key part of that future is a focus on science and innovation. Our scientists work with dairy farmers to help solve complex problems, finding solutions that work in the unique pasture-based dairy systems.
To date there have been some incredible R&D projects at DairyNZ, focused on modernising workplaces, fertility gain and improving water quality.
For example, our successful Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching and Plantain Potency and Practice programmes have helped reduce nitrate leaching from farm systems.
We’re now looking to reduce emissions through our dedicated low-methane R&D. This work aligns with customer needs and the policy discussion around how we farm now and into the future.
We want the right outcomes for our farmers and NZ. We know getting policies right helps ensure our sector – and NZ – continue to thrive.
DairyNZ will continue advocating hard to achieve this, backing our work and recommendations by science across animal care, water quality or climate change.
This includes emissions pricing and advocating for the delivery of a credible and workable emissions pricing system, as an alternative to the legislated NZ Emissions Trading Scheme. We will not accept a system that threatens dairy farm businesses and rural communities.
DairyNZ will continue rolling out relevant events and working to better connect and support farmers through their next part of the journey. Do get in touch with your local DairyNZ team for any support or advice across budgeting, regulation, staffing or seasonal advice.
As I reflect on my time with DairyNZ, there hasn’t been a day in 15 years I haven’t wanted to get out of bed and come to work. I’m lucky to have that passion for DairyNZ and the dairy farmers we support.
I am proud of the work farmers have achieved. I have always been, and will continue to be, one of dairy’s biggest advocates.
We have had some tough moments over the past two decades, but as a sector we always come together and collectively face those big issues.
The future is going to take that collective team effort we are so good at, and I’m optimistic, as dairy farmers are always focused on achieving the best outcomes. I look forward to seeing that continue.
Nga mihi nui