I am just three months into my role as the new chair of DairyNZ, but seven years’ experience as a DairyNZ board member has provided me with a solid platform of knowledge to build from.
I am firmly focused on taking the industry forward, but very much plan to continue the legacy of our founding chair John Luxton and building on our established reputation as a highly effective, respected and valued industry body.
Maintaining strong relationships across the dairy industry and the entire primary sector is my immediate priority.
Farming more complex
Farming has become a lot more complex but the need to be competitive as well as farm responsibly remains our firm focus. The need to support profitable farm systems has not changed, but there are more challenges, including:
- dealing with more extreme market volatility
- farming within environmental limits
- consumer expectations and how we farm responsibly, in particular animal welfare standards
- the quest for talented people – a challenge we expect will become more difficult as all parts of the economy compete for the best and brightest
- the need to provide positive work environments, particularly covering health and safety aspects and also employment conditions
- greenhouse gases – this is an issue that remains firmly on the DairyNZ radar.
At the same time, we need to look at these as opportunities where we can position ‘NZ dairy’ as a producer of high-quality safe dairy products.
We need a strong story for our customers – but we also know they will judge us on actions, not words. We need to be living our story as an industry – and making it real for people.
DairyNZ has a key role to play, particularly through its very strategic approach to investment.
The Strategy for Sustainable Dairy Farming, also dubbed ‘Making dairy farming work for everyone’, was developed in conjunction with industry partners and with key input from farmers.
It guides the DairyNZ board on how to best invest dairy farmers’ milksolids levy and influence government investment.
Our annual budget is now around $90 million – and as a board we think very carefully and strategically how to best invest that money on behalf of farmers. A key focus for our board going forward will be to ensure we are getting the most out of those investments.
Some of our partners, including Government and Beef + Lamb New Zealand, have reduced their contributions to co-funding research and, combined with lower production and therefore less levy income, there is even more scrutiny on our investment decisions.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy February 2016