DairyNZ is boosting dairy farmers' investment in the environmental area by 61 percent in this financial year, from $6.7 million to $11 million as part of its efforts to meet its commitments under the new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management.
DairyNZ Chief Executive, Tim Mackle, says the environmental portfolio is helping farmers boost profits while lowering their environmental impact, supporting farmer-led waterway improvement projects and investing in nutrient management research and resources. "It also supports our industry's new dairy farming strategy and our objective to have proactive environmental stewardship.
"Biosecurity is also a big investment at $16 million but even this funding has environmental benefits as we are the largest non-government funder of the TBfree programme that focuses a lot on possum control with clear biodiversity benefits," he says.
"The research areas of feed, animals and farming systems combined are still a bigger part of what we do as an industry body at $21.5 million, but certainly the environmental work is a major priority for us now so we can support farmers to cope with changing regulations and policies," he says.
"Having just attended the International Dairy Federation World Dairy Summit in Japan, it's also clear that our actions are in line the new global action framework that has been developed for dairy internationally," he says.
Tim Mackle says DairyNZ's 2013/14 environmental investment programme includes working with farmers on 13 regional catchment projects across the country to improve waterways, more farmer workshops and resources on nutrient management, Pastoral 21 research to boost on-farm profits while reducing environmental impacts and support for the Upper Waikato Sustainable Milk Plan project involving over 700 farmers. The Upper Waikato Sustainable Milk Project is the largest environmental good-practice project ever undertaken by the dairy industry. It is funded by the Waikato River Authority, DairyNZ and the government through the Primary Growth Partnership.
"We are also doing ground-breaking work in the area of environmental economics to help get some robust analysis around the economic impact of different policies and regulations to ensure any effects of environmental policies are well-understood and studied before important decisions get made," he says.
Along with its own investment programme, DairyNZ will also be leading a nationwide $24 million project to reduce nitrate leaching losses from dairy, arable, beef, sheep and mixed farm business.
"While we are making our own dairy-specific farmer-funded investments, we are also working with others on a range of projects in the agricultural sector to share knowledge and resources. As part of our commitments under the new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, we need to ensure that quality nutrient management advice and proven cost-effective solutions are easily accessible for our farmers," he says.
For a copy of the DairyNZ Annual Report detailing the 2013/14 Expenditure Plan, go to www.dairynz.co.nz/annualreport