DairyNZ has invited respected agricultural leaders, on behalf of the dairy sector, to help New Zealand remain internationally competitive in genetic gain.
The independent group has been established following recent DairyNZ consultation on a proposed operating model to develop a single independent Breeding Worth (BW) with genomics, delivered by New Zealand Animal Evaluation Ltd (NZAEL).
The group aims to ensure genetic progress helps New Zealand dairy farmers remain internationally competitive and to improve the Kiwi dairy herd through better rates of genetic gain, by considering the agricultural sector’s genetic improvement work.
DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says the working group brings together extensive sector knowledge and experience. “All members are highly knowledgeable and respected in their personal capacities. Together they form a diverse group representing different sector viewpoints.”
Dairy Holdings chief executive and dairy farmer Colin Glass will chair the group. Other members include Synlait co-founder John Penno, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries chief science advisor John Roche, Massey University farm and agribusiness management professor Nicola Shadbolt and Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company chair Steve Allen.
Taking an objective and fact-based approach, the group will make recommendations on how to move forward to achieve best practice in genetic gain. It will work in the sector’s best interests, seeking independent advice and opinion as appropriate to build recommendations for change that may be required and can be implemented, including to industry-good investment, action and regulation.
All stakeholders, including dairy farmers, will have the opportunity to engage with the process.
Jim says the sector agrees genomic selection has an important role to play in increasing rates of genetic gain. “It’s important for our farmers and the wider sector to know New Zealand is following international best practice in genetic gain. Following the recent consultation, we want to ensure there is sector-wide consensus on whether the current rate of genetic gain is sufficient – and that our systems effectively manage and communicate animal evaluation information and are fit for purpose.
“It is dairy farmers who benefit from the sector being world leading,” Jim says. “Genetic gain is of critical importance to the ongoing competitiveness and sustainability of New Zealand’s dairy sector. It results in cows that are more efficient producers, meaning they need less feed for each kilogram of milk they produce.
“Those gains help Kiwi dairy farmers be more successful and profitable – and are important if New Zealand is to continue as a world leader.”
The independent working group’s recommendations are expected to be finalised by May 2024, following a stakeholder engagement process.
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