The forum in Waikato and Southland opened on Thursday, April 29, with keynote speaker Climate Change Minister Hon. James Shaw, who acknowledged the sector’s success and where dairy is heading.
“We know that New Zealand’s dairy farmers have amongst the lowest carbon footprint per unit of production in the world. That is something for us to build on, to bend the curve on our total emissions output, because it is our total emissions that cause climate change,” said Mr Shaw.
“There have been things happening in the sector over the past few years that are changing the way things are done. These are making significant impacts for the farmers adopting them, reducing their emissions whilst at the same time increasing their profitability. Our task now is to roll these innovations and changes in farm practice out right across the country.”
“The same thing is true in every sector of the economy. There is a lot of work to be done, but if we get it right, what we’ll see is a cleaner and more productive country.”
Leading New Zealand economist Cameron Bagrie also emphasised challenges facing the sector, including climate change and the labour issues, but suggests the farming sector’s sentiment in the next 10 to 20 years should be a glass half full.
“Our country’s world-leading agricultural sector has made big advances over the past few years, including tidying up balance sheets, and improvements can and should continue,” said Mr Bagrie.
“Disruption is here, and coming thick and fast, but the dairy sector knows what it needs to do. We are going to get there.”
DairyNZ chairman Jim van der Poel also said we can be proud of our world-leading history in technology innovation and farming practices.
“We are living in a world that’s changing more rapidly and we need to move with that. Globally, consumer expectations are changing. More consumers are expecting their food to be produced sustainably and we are seeing our global competitors’ respond – they’re all investing in becoming more efficient,” said Mr van der Poel.
“But we live in a world of opportunity. As farmers, we have an opportunity to play an important role in feeding the world’s growing population. I believe New Zealand is well-positioned to strengthen our reputation as a premium dairy producer in the twenty first century.”
Farmers who couldn’t attend the event are encouraged to register for two webinars in May, which will showcase the Forum’s economic insights and scientific solution sessions.
For more information and to register, go to dairynz.co.nz/farmersforum.
Farmers' Forum nationwide webinars
Webinar one – 7-8pm Thursday, May 6
DairyNZ’s economics team shares insights into the competitiveness of New Zealand’s dairy sector against key international competitors.
Webinar two – 7-8pm Thursday, May 13
Join DairyNZ’s science team for a discussion on the latest science-based solutions to farming challenges.