The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) established World Milk Day in 2001 to recognise the importance of milk as a global food and to celebrate the dairy sector. This year it is showcasing how dairy is reducing its environmental footprint, while providing nutritious food.

Kiwi dairy farms are the world's most emissions-efficient milk producers – with a carbon footprint for on-farm milk production that’s 70 percent lower than the FAO’s global average.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says the dairy sector is working hard to keep it that way, because a low environmental footprint on-farm is positive for all Kiwis, our customers and the environment. “To continue the progress, DairyNZ is investing in R&D alongside sector and research partners to build understanding of methane-reducing technologies.

“We should all be proud of our dairy farmers for helping maintain New Zealand’s success, producing more environmentally efficient products while supporting communities and the economy.

“Dairy provides jobs for 50,000 Kiwis and brings in about $22 billion of export earnings a year, which leads to about $50 billion in New Zealand’s economy,” he says.

Kiwi farmers are reducing footprint through good farming practices, including riparian planting and Farm Environment Plans. The plans allow dairy farmers to identify and manage environmental risks on-farm. Currently, 69 percent of New Zealand dairy farms have Farm Environment Plans. By 2025, they all will.

“However, we know the job is not yet done,” Mr Mackle says. “As a sector, we are committed to further improvement.”

The industry good-body also works closely with local farmer and community groups at a catchment level – this is widely recognised as the way forward in improving the environment, as it achieves better results than a national one-size-fits-all approach.

The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord has seen 99.8 percent of waterways fenced to exclude dairy cattle, while 100 percent of stock crossing points now have bridges or culverts. Keeping cows out of waterways is a big part of protecting water.

These on-farm actions include good management practices that can minimise sediment and particulate phosphorus loss from land to water.

The actions clearly demonstrate Kiwi dairy farmers’ commitment to improving the environment – and providing quality food. World Milk Day is a good time to thank them for that, so let’s all raise a glass of milk to them today.

Media contact
Justine McLeary
Senior media specialist
027 808 0673

Page last updated:

31 May 2023


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