The new Dairy Strategy charts a bold future that will be quite different from today. Delivering on that means our sector will need to make transformational changes.
Optimising and improving our current farming practices will not be enough. Challenges moving forward include price volatility, the availability of more milk alternatives, the need to reduce our environmental footprint, increasing demands from society for positive animal welfare, and the need to improve farmers’ wellbeing.
These are interconnected issues that cannot be tackled in isolation. In some ways, it is like a Rubik's Cube, where solving one face at a time will ruin the others. We need to look at the whole system.
A bold leap forward
That’s where DairyNZ’s Leap21 project comes in. The aim of Leap21 is to redesign production systems that take into account the many challenges facing our sector, and the varying needs and perspectives of our stakeholders. Those stakeholders include farmers, the New Zealand public, the consumers of our products, and the animals.
Leap21 is about finding integrative systems, starting from an understanding of our stakeholders’ needs and goals. This project looks at dairying from outside of dairying – seeing it through the eyes of the world. Why? Because for New Zealand dairy to be sustainable and successful in the long-term, we must make products the world loves, and be accepted in our communities.
Two new concepts
Working in collaboration with international experts, DairyNZ has spent the past year analysing information, and doing interviews and workshops with stakeholders. Together we established some inspirational design goals (see box), and developed two conceptual designs: ‘Local & Global, Naturally’, focused on natural solutions, and ‘High-tech, High control’, which applies whatever technology is needed.
These concepts are now being tested with different stakeholder groups, including members of the public, to gather their feedback and support. We will then work with experts, including farmers, to refine these concepts, add more details, and keep making sure that they reflect the needs of our stakeholders.
The feedback from this work will help inform us how we can adapt our dairying systems to ensure we can continue to make products the world loves and that our communities are proud of.