DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle is urging farmers to vote when they receive voting papers in the mail this month.
Today, 14,000 vote packs will be sent out to dairy farm owners, sharemilkers and leaseholders, who are being asked to vote 'yes' or 'no' on whether they want to continue supporting a levy on milksolids.
Farmers currently pay a levy of 3.6c/kg MS, and it is proposed that this will remain unchanged until at least May 2016.
The vote, which happens every six years, is important as the result will have an impact on farmers for years to come, says Tim.
"DairyNZ provides a united voice for dairy farmers through which we can collectively manage science, develop new technologies, secure government funding and join with other farming bodies to represent dairy farmers' interests," says Tim.
"The industry's ability to invest in research and development is at risk unless farmers turn out strongly in support of the levy."
A large part of DairyNZ's role is to invest levy funds on farmers' behalf.
"DairyNZ also works behind the scenes by funding 40 organisations across New Zealand, such as OSPRI which carries out biosecurity work. DairyNZ also partners with organisations such as Federated Farmers and dairy companies to achieve shared goals without duplicating work.
"We're more efficient and powerful when all dairy industry partners are on the same page, because it means we work very effectively when we liaise with government and councils."
Tim is conscious of the fact that farmers are looking for tangible benefits.
"Our work is varied but we always work towards a goal that has direct benefit to farmers. For example, with support from our InCalf programme, an extra 146,000 cows were in-calf at six weeks in 2013 compared to 2010, representing $110 million of extra farm profit every year.
"We will continue to aim high for farmers and help them keep pace with changes in the industry. Some of our key areas of focus for the future, outlined in the voter packs, will include delivering farm systems research for more profit with reduced footprint; achieving genetic gain in pasture and animals; prioritising biosecurity and product integrity; and helping farmers grow and retain staff.
"I would encourage farmers to talk to friends and neighbours, seek out information on what we do and finally, have your say in May."
Farmers can vote until May 31. They can do this via the internet, post, fax and at the DairyNZ Farmers' Forum in Hamilton on May 7-8.
DairyNZ communications advisor
07 858 3786 or 021 703 068