Words by: Jim van der Poel, DairyNZ Chair

After a challenging few months it’s great to see Covid-19 restrictions easing and a more normal way of life resuming on and off farm.
DairyNZ was pleased to launch our new “Free Farm Ready Training” course in June as part of the “GoDairy” campaign. The campaign is in response to Kiwis who have lost their jobs because of Covid-19 and supports them to change careers to dairy farming.
Week one of the three-week training is online and covers working and living on a dairy farm. Weeks two and three are practical, teaching the basics of animal handling, farm infrastructure and farm vehicle safety.
The course will run regularly over the coming months and DairyNZ is working with the Government to promote it and share information on dairy careers with those looking for work.
If you know anyone keen on working in dairy, they can visit godairy.co.nz/training for information and to register for the course.


The Government also recently announced its Essential Freshwater package. It’s pleasing to see that the many submissions from farmers and DairyNZ’s detailed and evidence-based submission have contributed to changes.
One of the more impractical and expensive proposals – moving existing fence lines – has been dropped. Instead, existing fencing can remain while newer fences will need a 3m setback.
The Government sees Farm Environment Plans as a key tool to achieve environmental improvements. The primary sector supports this and will be working with iwi, regional councils and the Government to help all farmers develop a plan. Many of the existing plans in place today are likely to meet the requirements.
The introduction of a nitrogen fertiliser cap is an input control rather than a focus on outcomes. We understand that some farmers will be impacted by that limit. We have concerns that it unfairly targets dairy farmers with requirements that don’t apply to other agricultural sectors – this is unfair and inconsistent with the fundamentals of Te Mana o te Wai (water first approach). This is something we cannot support.
The controversial dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) measure has been parked for now, although the Government will review this in a year. DairyNZ and many other submitters had concerns that the evidence base for a DIN measure was not robust and it wouldn’t achieve the water quality improvements the community is seeking. Along with farmers, we think there were more pragmatic ways to improve water quality that don’t impose huge costs on farms and rural communities. We will continue to advocate strongly against any reintroduction of a DIN measure.
Instead the government has adopted a nitrate toxicity measure of 2.4 g/m3 for waterways. While we agree that nitrate toxicity is a better effects-based measure, we disagree with the standard adopted. We supported 3.8 g/m3 as a more reasonable progression on the old National Policy Statement. The new measure has the potential to seriously affect some farmers in Canterbury, Southland, and Waikato. Many of these farmers are already working
Words by: Jim van der Poel, DairyNZ Chairto meet regional council environmental requirements.
The new nitrate toxicity measure is to be met over a generation. How long a generation is will be decided through regional policy processes. While there are serious challenges, there is also time to consider and implement the best options to achieve change. DairyNZ would like to see those options explored – for example, how Government budget funding can be used to support the changes the Government wants to see.
Agriculture has a critical role in rebuilding our economy. It is one of New Zealand’s biggest employers and currently our most productive major sector. We want to see central and local government working alongside farmers and the sector to find pragmatic and workable solutions that improve water quality.
You can find DairyNZ’s recent webinar on Essential Freshwater and a range of other information online at dairynz.co.nz/freshwater.