“This election we wanted to give voice to dairy farmers’ concerns and priorities to help politicians better understand the issues impacting on farmers. So, we surveyed our dairy farmers and asked them what they thought,” said Dr Mackle.
“Our dairy farmers are world-leaders in the production of sustainable, emission efficient and nutritious dairy, but we still have a significant farmer confidence and wellbeing issue in this country that pre-dates COVID-19.”
The View from the Cow Shed survey compiled feedback from dairy farmers across New Zealand. Key trends include challenges with mental health, technology and government regulation.
“It was really encouraging to see that 94 percent of farmers reported they were proud to be working in the dairy industry at the moment,” said Dr Mackle.
“But at the same time, 62 percent of farmers said they or someone on their farm had experienced mental health issues over the last year – with an uncertain regulatory framework identified as one of the main contributing causes.
“50 percent of farmers said they don’t have access to the broadband internet they need and 52 percent don’t have adequate mobile reception on farm.”
Dr Mackle said when asked about their community’s outlook over the next three years, 64 percent of farmers expect things to decline.
“Farmers were also asked what motivated them the most to get out of bed in the morning – what was great to see is that working and caring for animals is the main driver for 43 percent of farmers. Providing for their family came in a close second,” said Dr Mackle.
“This sends a tremendous message that farmers really value what they do, and that animal care remains at the heart of their farming business.”
The farmer survey has informed DairyNZ’s policy priorities for the next government.
“This information has informed our policy platform and identifies the top 10 things the next Government should do to improve outcomes for dairy farming families, their rural communities and New Zealand.”
See the full 'The View from the Cow Shed' report at www.dairynz.co.nz/viewfromthecowshed.
DairyNZ's policy priorities are:
Refocus investment in science
- Invest in R&D for our primary sector to unlock more value and volume.
- Set a clear strategy for science funding that is appropriately resourced to support farmers to reduce their environmental footprint while increasing profit.
Work with us to future-proof our sector
- Work with the sector to meet workforce needs through training and recruitment of Kiwis, as well as skilled migrant workers.
- Invest in rural broadband and improved mobile coverage to better connect our rural communities with New Zealand and the world.
- Develop a national water storage strategy and invest in water storage to increase water supply in times of drought, enable land-use flexibility and unlock economic potential.
- Develop and enforce a world-leading biosecurity system that is properly resourced, learns from our M. bovis experience and ensures everyone plays their part.
- Reform the RMA to reduce compliance costs for farmers, increase efficiency and drive better environmental outcomes.
Get our environmental settings and support right
- Partner with farmers and support them to play their part to meet new environmental standards.
- Ensure targets for water quality improvements are fair and equitable, clear, scientifically robust and have pragmatic timeframes for implementation.
- Review the methane targets in the Zero Carbon Act to ensure they are firmly grounded in science and align our international and domestic targets by applying a split gas approach to our Paris commitment and carbon budgets.