Jim van der Poel, DairyNZ Board chair

Dairy is our nation’s biggest export earner and underpins New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing. All sectors face challenges in the current climate, but we are increasingly seeing wider recognition of our how important our contribution will be to help NZ get through this.

As we look to the future, we see a range of changes over the next decade. I believe that continuing our milksolids levy is vital to enable dairy farmers and our sector to keep thriving and innovating in a rapidly changing world.

The levy has been part of NZ dairy farming for 17 years – and has enabled DairyNZ to fund research and development to support farmers through a raft of changes over that time.

The levy enables DairyNZ to deliver a broad range of industry-good activities. For every $1 dairy farmers invest, the Government and other organisations co-invest a further $1.80. And the return on that investment is even better: an independent economic evaluation of DairyNZ’s key investments showed at least $15 of value for each $1 paid through the levy. This $15 includes improvements in productivity and cost avoidance by working with Government and others to put in place better policies.

Our policy and advocacy teams have successfully engaged with Government to limit costs to farmers and achieve some significant wins, such as the agreement to keep agriculture out of the Emissions Trading Scheme. This will save farmers over $5 billion during the next 30 years and is also the right thing to do.

Through farmer education programmes, DairyNZ is also involved in reducing injuries and deaths on farms, while the Tb programme has minimised trade constraints and the costs of managing affected herds and cull cows.

As both a dairy farmer and DairyNZ’s chair – I’m able to see the full extent of DairyNZ’s activities. The organisation has skilled scientists, policy teams and other specialists who work for your benefit and are extremely committed to delivering for farmers. We are also working increasingly closely with other sector and industry organisations to take a sector view on big issues.


Being part of DairyNZ is a rewarding experience – working for the future of dairy, supporting the wider sector and helping build great communities across rural NZ.

I believe in an organisation which exists to work exclusively for dairy farmers. Not many sectors have an industry-good organisation like ours. DairyNZ has helped us achieve huge success so far, and it’s a real strength for our future.

The levy supports farmers in a range of ways – whether it’s providing expert advice through the recent Southland floods; researching how plantain can reduce nitrate leaching; or advocating for practical, science-based solutions to improve water quality.

DairyNZ maximises every levy dollar, reinvesting it into research and the development of better farm systems, environmental management, animal care and workplaces; as well as biosecurity, public perception and education programmes, to name a few.

While you focus on producing milk and looking after your land, animals and people, you can be confident we’re working tirelessly to support your future.


As I mentioned, an analysis on your levy investment showed that the return is $15 for every $1. That value is derived partly from costs which have been avoided or reduced by farmers as a result of DairyNZ’s advocacy work.

DairyNZ investments are aligned to the Dairy Tomorrow strategy so the analysis was split by strategy themes – environment, genetic gain, plants, systems, biosecurity, animal care, workforce and communities.

The analysis showed that every priority area delivered industry benefits well above the money invested.

For example, between 2015-2019, $35.9 million was invested into environmental projects. The biggest benefits for DairyNZ investment are in policy wins in environmental advocacy and mitigation, such as in the Rotorua and Selwyn Te Waihora regions, and on the Zero Carbon Bill. From a $35m investment, the analysis suggests DairyNZ delivered a net present value (NPV) of $9.9b from environmental advocacy which resulted in reduced costs for NZ’s dairy sector.

A second key area is in genetic gain of the national dairy herd. DairyNZ invested $43.1m into animal projects between 2015-2019 and the analysis looked at $17.5m invested into NZAEL, the core database, genomics and genetics. From the $43m investment, the analysis suggests a Net Present Value of $445m for the NZ dairy sector (or 22 times the levy investment).

NZAEL’s work improving cow genetics has boosted the productivity of the average cow by $9.70 – or $4015 per year for the average 414-cow herd.

An analysis of our forages investment shows a Net Present Value of $33.8m for the dairy sector from DairyNZ’s investment (or 2.5 times the levy investment).

It is important to remember that these assessments were made independently.

DairyNZ represents dairy farmers across many platforms – from research, development and extension, through to advocacy and helping grow vibrant communities. As we face increased uncertainty, along with public scrutiny and ongoing political pressures, I believe having a sector body focused solely on working for dairy farmers will continue to pay dividends.


I encourage all levy-paying dairy farmers to vote when you receive your pack in the post this month. Voting requires just one tick – yes or no.

This is your levy, your vote and your future.