A major, three-year research project is underway in Taranaki to see what can be done to practically reduce the environmental footprint of dairy farmers and, above all, ensure that farms remain profitable. Reporter Peter Burke looks at the initiative and how it's progressing.
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says our communities and regional economies see real benefits from dairy, particularly with current increased global demands for dairy product.
He made the comments on June 1 - set aside by the Food and Agricultural Organisation as World Milk Day.
"We should be really proud of our dairy farmers for sustaining our country's success through more environmentally efficient products, while supporting our communities and the New Zealand economy," says Mackle.
"Our analysis has shown this past season's increase in milk price delivered an annual $2.1 billion within our communities alone. The total increase in revenue therefore sits at around $3.28 billion.
"Our findings have shown flow-on effects have meant the total economic contribution from dairy was around $42 billion this season."
Mackle says for every $1 increase in milk price, around another $1.80 flows into other sectors within the economy. Flow-on spending pays wages and injects cash into other sectors, including farm purchases, pharmaceutical products, construction, electricity and voluntary household expenditure.
"Dairy farmers achieve all this while being the most emissions efficient producers globally," says Mackle.
"We are committed to remaining a sustainable producer of dairy product and, to do that, we have a wide range of work underway to enhance the environment, including reducing emissions and improving water quality, while maintaining profitability."
Farmers nationwide have fenced waterways, 100% of stock crossing points have bridges and culverts, while thousands of farmers are carrying out extensive planting alongside waterways.
In 2019 the dairy sector accounted for more 5% of GDP in seven regions - and more than 10% in four of those. In dollar terms, this equates to dairy contributing more than $100 million to GDP in most regions - including nearly $2 billion in Canterbury and $2.5 billion in Waikato. The sector delivers nearly $21 billion in export value.
World Milk Day was established by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)in 2001 to celebrate and increase public awareness of the important contributions of the dairy sector to sustainability, economic development, livelihoods, and nutrition.
This year's World Milk Day social media campaign focuses on sustainability to showcase dairy's commitment to innovation in reducing the sector's environmental footprint.
The three-day Enjoy Dairy Rally also focuses on three additional themes in the lead up to World Milk Day: nutrition, community, and enjoyment.