DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are surveying dairy farmers to find out how much money they have invested on-farm in environmental initiatives.
Federated Farmers initiated this research on farmers on-farm environmental spend in the Horizons region last year, and found it was invaluable information to have on hand.
In Horizons the survey results from 900 dairy farmers showed 166 of them had spent a total of $18.5 million on environmental initiatives on-farm.
DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the industry body has now joined the quest for environmental spend data and is working in tandem with Federated Farmers to cover the rest of the country.
“It’s been difficult for the industry to quantify all the investment that has been made across the 12,000 dairy farms in New Zealand in areas like effluent systems, stock exclusion from waterways and riparian planting. We have all these individual businesses doing what they need to do and just getting on with the job but nobody knows how much money that’s involving. There are obviously costs to all this investment in responsible dairy farming and environmental stewardship and we just want to put some numbers against it.
“If we want the public and the regulators to understand what is already happening out there, we need to know the facts and figures. We can only get those from farmers,” he says.
Federated Farmers Dairy Chair, Andrew Hoggard, says that this is as much about giving the industry something to be proud of as it is about showing the public that dairy farmers are serious about the part they play in protecting the environment.
“The more facts we have, the easier it is to tell the story about how the industry has stepped up to play its part and more importantly the significant amount farmers are investing to do that.”
“Meeting our commitments under the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and industry strategy is a huge undertaking not just with national resources but with farmer’s time and money.
“We can’t tell the public or others what we don’t know – so we’re trying to understand how much that commitment to the environment is adding up to at a farm level.”
Mr Hoggard added that the Federation and DairyNZ are collecting the data region by region, which they will eventually be able to put together across the country to tell both the regional and national story.
“Now it’s up to New Zealand dairy farmers to take the survey we’ve sent out to them or visit either of our websites to access it. If they know their environmental spend it’s quick and easy to do.”
“We’re urging farmers to take part in this project if they haven’t already and to complete it by the end of March.”
Farmers need to complete the survey to help those who help us – DairyNZ and Federated Farmers.
Those who do more are more likely to respond than the minority who do little but it will still provide valuable information on what farmers are doing and how much it costs.
Farming to the required environmental standard isn’t negotiable.
Many farmers go well beyond the minimum required. The financial return on that might not justify the expense but there will be environmental benefits and probably social ones too.