As you read earlier in this issue of Inside Dairy, the new strategy Dairy Tomorrow charts a bold future that will be quite different from today. Delivering on that is a tall order, and our sector will need to make transformational changes in the long run.
Optimising and improving our current farming practices will not be enough, given the diversity of the sustainability challenges we are facing. These challenges include price volatility, the increased power of supermarkets, the availability of milk alternatives, the need to reduce our environmental footprint, increasing demands from society for positive animal welfare, and the need to consider farmers’ wellbeing.
These are interconnected issues that cannot be tackled in isolation. In some ways, it is like a Rubik's Cube, where trying to solve one face at a time will run the risk of ruining the others. We need to look at the whole system. That’s where DairyNZ’s Leap21 project comes in.
A bold leap forward
The aim of Leap21 is to redesign production systems that take into account the many challenges facing our sector, and the varying needs and perspectives of our stakeholders. Those stakeholders include farmers, the New Zealand public, the consumers of our products, and the animals.
Leap21 is about finding integrated systems, starting from an understanding of our stakeholders’ needs and goals, rather than starting from anyone's ‘pet’ solution. What we’re trying to do is look at dairying from outside of dairying – seeing it through the eyes of the world. Why? Because for New Zealand dairy to be sustainable and successful in the long-term, we must make products the world loves, and make them in a way that would be a source of pride for our communities.
Two new concepts
Working in collaboration with international experts, such as those from Wageningen UR Livestock Research in the Netherlands, DairyNZ spent the last year analysing information and doing interviews and workshops with stakeholders. Then we invited a group of highly creative and forward-thinking people from across the dairy sector, and more widely, for a three-day workshop.
Together we established some inspirational design goals (see the box below) and developed two conceptual designs: ‘Local & Global, Naturally’, focused on natural solutions; and ‘High-tech, High control’, which applies whatever technology is needed.
These concepts are now being tested with different stakeholder groups, including members of the public, to gather their feedback and support. We will then work with experts, including farmers, to refine these concepts, add more details, and keep ensuring they reflect the needs of our stakeholders.
Check out a visual representation of these two concepts and learn more about the project at dairynz.co.nz/leap21
Leap21 main goal
To design resilient dairy systems that make products the world wants and that make New Zealand proud, because they provide people with opportunity and attractive places to work, enhance the environment and care for animals.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy February 2018