By: Tim Mackle, DairyNZ chief executive

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her government is for all New Zealanders – and DairyNZ is working to ensure that includes our dairy farming families.

Policy plays a big part in how we farm; farmers know better than most the impact policy changes can have on their businesses. We believe working constructively with policymakers puts us in a good position to positively influence the best solutions for everyone.

We are keen to see the government back our sector to deliver – both economically and on our environmental commitments.

By investing in science, our sector can unlock greater value. This requires a government strategy for science funding that provides resources for farmers to reduce their environmental footprint while increasing profit.

Future-proofing dairy farming is also crucial and we need our government to back us to continue our role as world-leading dairy farmers.

Farmers need support to meet new environmental standards. The freshwater policy delivered last year isn’t perfect, but we continue to work with everyone on the regional rules. Our approach is always informed by science, and that science does influence the rules.

There’s more work to be done but we will continue voicing our concerns, liaising with working groups, and advocating with regional councils too.

Lastly, we will work with the government on climate policy proposals and reviewing the methane target in the Zero Carbon Act.

It’s vital we have a fair methane target. Reducing farm emissions is a big priority for our sector and He Waka Eke Noa is a key priority over the next four years to develop systems to measure and manage our emissions.

Other needs that must be addressed include meeting our workforce needs, and adopting a national water storage strategy to protect farms from the impact of drought.

Reforming the RMA is vital to reduce compliance costs for farmers, to increase efficiency, and get better environmental outcomes.

Biosecurity remains one of our greatest risks and we will work closely with the government to advocate for a world-leading biosecurity system.

Undoubtedly, 2021 will be another big year for dairy as we work through meeting our commitments as a sector.