1. We've supported farmers to improve farm profit
Genetic improvement contributes an estimated $300 million in profit to the economy each year. New Zealand Animal Evaluation Limited (NZAEL), now a wholly-owned subsidiary of DairyNZ, has played a vital role in this. NZAEL develops, promotes and delivers technologies that optimise genetic improvement in the national dairy herd – including managing the Dairy Industry Good Animal Database which holds pedigree and performance data for every recorded dairy cow in New Zealand.
2. We've delivered research and developed on-farm improvements and solutions
DairyNZ invests almost a quarter of its money in research and development. One example is the Transition Cow Welfare programme. Launched in 2012, this five-year programme rewrote the proverbial textbook on how to feed dairy cows during the transition from pregnancy to lactation. Protocols were developed out of the research that, when applied, reduced the on-farm incidence of milk fever and related cow mortality around calving by 50-75 percent. Based on a conservative estimate of a 10 percent uptake, and including a reduction in other transition diseases such as ketosis, these protocols not only improve cow welfare but also equate to an economic return of more than $22 million per annum, nationally.
3. We've supported environmental stewardship
From Whangarei to Waituna, farmers are benefiting from sustainable milk plans (SMPs), of which 1969 have been completed nationwide. These DairyNZ-funded farm environment plans help farmers identify potential environmental risks and suggest ways to manage them. Thousands of actions have been taken by farmers because of SMPs, including riparian plantings, improved nutrient management and erosion control measures.
4. We've increased the number of talented people in dairying and improved the work environment
So far, 259 students have graduated from DairyNZ’s university scholarship programme, with 85 percent now contributing to our country’s agriculture sector. In 2016, the scholarship programme was estimated to be worth more than $1.5 million to the sector annually. Each year, DairyNZ invests about $2 million of the levy in primary industry training. This grows to a $10 million commitment to training activities (with contributions from Government and trainee fees), resulting in more than 8000 people being trained every year.
5. We've advocated for and supported farmers on environmental and compliance issues
In 2009, DairyNZ created a policy and advocacy team to advance the interests of dairy farmers at a national level, and with local and regional authorities. On dairy farmers’ behalf, DairyNZ has helped prepare submissions on regional plan changes in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu, Greater Wellington, Canterbury, Otago and Southland. We’re also working alongside Federated Farmers, dairy companies, other primary sectors and the Government on land, water and climate change proposals – all aimed at getting the best deal for farmers.
6. We've responded to regional issues, including severe weather and animal health problems
When swede crops appeared to be causing cow illness and deaths in Southland in 2014, a DairyNZ team was quick to source plant and animal samples so we could understand the problem and coordinate support. Dairy farmers now know what caused the issue and better understand how to prevent it. Your levy made that possible.
7. We've managed biosecurity risks
Investment in bovine tuberculosis (TB) eradication is working. Since 1996, the number of infected dairy herds has dropped from 230 to 36 (as at the end of June 2017). DairyNZ is the majority investor in TBfree’s national TB control programme and this is the single largest investment from the milksolids levy.
8. We've secured funding for the dairy industry
DairyNZ accesses alternative sources of funding through public and private institutions, and other organisations. For every $1 dairy farmers invest via the levy in industrygood activities, the Government and other organisations co-invest a further $1.80. That’s leveraging your levy for greater gains.
9. We've educated the public, including young people, about dairy farming
Rosie, the dairy industry’s cowbassador, was born In 2011. As a result of Rosie’s popular education programme, more than 21,000 children have visited a dairy farm, and more than 6000 teachers from more than 1800 schools have downloaded and used Rosie’s education teaching resources.
10. We've invested in industry partners to find solutions
On farmers’ behalf, DairyNZ invests levy funds in more than 40 different organisations across New Zealand. These include universities and farmer organisations such as Dairy Women’s Network. (Check out the article on pages 14-17 of this Inside Dairy.) One example of how these partnerships have paid off is an AgResearch programme in 2009. With support from DairyNZ, AgResearch conducted a major release of a parasitoid wasp to help control clover root weevil. This biological control agent is now present in most areas of New Zealand.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy November 2017