Over the next few months, the plan for how our dairy sector will implement its new strategy, Dairy Tomorrow, will be unveiled. When we launched the strategy last November, we described this phase as the ‘hard work’ part of the strategy. That’s not to underestimate the substantial effort last year of our project team, industry partners and farmers in coming to an agreement on our future goals and priorities. But following through with a well-thought-out plan about how we’ll achieve these 22 goals requires significant collaboration and boldness.
The new Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor joined us at the launch in Wellington (see photos left and below) and provided considerable insight into his priorities for the sector during his Government’s tenure. The Minister congratulated us on the strategy, saying it’s a great initiative for the sector – a sign that our work over the past year has led to a strong base of commitments and goals that go to the heart of our communities’ and stakeholders’ priorities. He also emphasised that while the sector can expect some changes under the new Government, change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many of his comments aligned with our Dairy Tomorrow goals – the need for dairy to follow through with our promises to communities, the necessity for transparency, and the need for New Zealanders to have pride in dairy.
The impacts of land use changes and the growth of the dairy sector has put the spotlight on dairy farming over recent years. Dairy Tomorrow reinforces our belief that sustainable dairy farming has a critical role to play in dairy’s social licence to operate, and therefore New Zealand's future prosperity. But we need to do more to demonstrate we’re taking action around the environment and natural resource use, and the sector must provide options and solutions for farmers to help them farm sustainably.
The process of creating Dairy Tomorrow made it clear that farmers are incredibly ambitious for the sector. To achieve their ambitions, the strategy has six core commitments that cover specific areas the sector wants to make progress on, in order to be trusted and valued, productive and competitive. These goals commit us to proactive leadership to address these challenges, and to really improve lives through dairy.
1: To protect and nurture the environment for future generations
Midway through this year we will announce milestones to help us take more of a leadership role in improving our waterways and helping New Zealand meet its international climate change commitments. Under this commitment we also want to work with other sectors to develop a sustainable land use blueprint, and have all farms reporting under certified farm sustainability plans, both by 2025.
2: To build the world’s most competitive and resilient dairy farming businesses
Under this commitment, many goals involve improving farm performance by leveraging new and existing technologies. This includes working to develop and implement a co-funded, sectorled ‘National Science Challenge’ by 2020, which will deliver the next generation of tested, cutting-edge science and technology solutions for future farm systems.
We want the ability to assess farm performance to capture the improvements – this involves ensuring our farmers have better data connectivity by 2020. We also plan to develop initiatives to reduce the risk of biosecurity incursions.
3: To produce the highest quality and most valued dairy nutrition
We plan to grow New Zealand dairy exporters’ access to open dairy markets to equal 30 percent of global consumption, and by 2020, we will implement a strategy to promote the unique value proposition of New Zealand milk.
4: To be world leading in on-farm animal care
We will achieve this commitment by creating a future-focused framework that ensures every animal is valued and treated with care and respect, and we’ll have all farmers implementing and reporting under this framework by 2023.
5: To build great workplaces for the dairy sector
We want the dairy sector to be seen as a quality work environment operated by vibrant and proficient farm teams. By 2020 we will implement a Workplace Action Plan committed to a work-life balance, and roll out new initiatives to inspire, attract, grow and retain dairy talent.
6: To help grow vibrant and prosperous communities
The pretext of this commitment is to ensure dairy farming creates social and economic value for New Zealand’s urban and rural communities. We will do this by strengthening community connections and leadership, and helping our regional communities secure infrastructure and services necessary for their economic and social wellbeing. We hope this will see the sector become a highly trusted business sector by 2025.
To read about all 22 goals within Dairy Tomorrow, visit dairytomorrow.co.nz