Monday, March 4, 2024

The people driving global dairying

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The organisation behind the World Dairy Summit has some serious worldwide dairy credentials.
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From “grass to glass” is how Sharon Mitchell describes the work of the International Dairy Federation. 

Serving as the national committee secretary for the IDF in New Zealand, Mitchell has been actively involved for over 20 years and was recently appointed to the IDF board, one of only four people from NZ in the 120-year history of the IDF.

“IDF offers substantiated scientific evidence and guidance for establishing standards and regulations, fostered through collaborative partnerships and relationships with a multitude of organisations,” Mitchell says.

“Globally, our efforts revolve around unifying milk and milk production standards, encompassing every facet of the supply chain.

“And it’s crucial for New Zealand to be at that table to influence our position since we’re pretty unique with our pasture-based farming.”

Established in 1903, the IDF covers over 160 different projects, touching all aspects of the supply chain. The NZ national committee prioritises work relevant to the country’s system and is chaired by Dr Jeremy Hill, chief science and technology officer at Fonterra.

National committees are the backbone of IDF and the board of directors contributes to the development and achievement of IDF objectives. 

The IDF boasts a membership of over 40 countries, collectively representing more than 74% of the world’s milk production, each with its own national committee. NZ’s membership is supported with farmer levies through DairyNZ.

Each year the IDF hosts the World Dairy Summit. Twelve hundred people from all over the world attended the event with the theme of Boundless Potential and Endless Possibilities. 

Discussions underscored the importance of addressing consumer apprehensions regarding animal welfare and other potential challenges.

The next summit will be held in France next year and the 2025 event in Chile. NZ has secured the hosting of the 2026 World Dairy Summit, with planning already underway.

“People love coming to IDF events in New Zealand. The summit we hosted in 2010 attracted 2500 attendees from all over the world,” Mitchell says.

“So it’s exciting we are hosting again. It will be in Auckland and there’s a lot of work to be done over the next three years but it will certainly be a great event.”

This article first appeared in the December edition of our sister publication, Dairy Farmer. Samantha Tennent attended the event with support from WelFarm and the International Dairy Federation.