Questions & Answers

The questions and answers below explain more about our commitments and goals.
Why doesn’t the Strategy include the specific actions you are going to take, metrics or detail about implementation?

This is a Strategic vision rather than a plan. We don’t yet have all the answers as to what it will take to achieve them. We know that this will be a team effort, we need to collaborate with others on a plan to achieve our shared goals. The real work of the Strategy starts now, as we develop the actions we’ll take and we will be doing that in conjunction with partners, farmers and key stakeholders, including central and local government.

The strategy will remain relatively constant while individual projects come and go.  As part of our commitment to being transparent and open we will report on our recent achievements and current activities, including key projects as they develop.  This can be found on here.

One area where we have not made the progress we wanted to, is identifying key milestones and reporting metrics by June 2018.  This remains work in progress.

Are you actually planning to do anything new?

We are starting new initiatives, including: working with communities on the long term blue print for what land use in New Zealand should look like; a Government-industry collaboration to develop a national science challenge; promoting the unique characteristics and value of New Zealand milk; and for all farmers to adopt a framework for world leading animal care.



How does this fit with the Sustainable Dairy Water Accord and the pledge by primary sector leaders with respect to water quality?
We are dealing with a water quality issue in some areas that has been 80-100 years or more in the making, and it will take some time to reverse the impact.

Under the environmental commitment there is a goal to lead efforts to improve the health of our rivers and streams, and protect and enhance biodiversity.  A key step in this was the collaboration across the agricultural and horticultural sectors to develop the Good Farming Practice: Action Plan for Water Quality.  We are now working to establish measures that can be applied at farm and catchment level to support this goal, as well as collaborating in catchment scale projects to measure the impact of on-farm changes.

Are there some goals that are priorities?
There are differing timeframes for goals in the Strategy but that doesn’t mean they are lesser priorities.  In some cases, we need to build frameworks before we can make changes. In other cases, the goals themselves will always be a work in progress and it just isn’t possible to put a timeline on them.

As our implementation plans evolve we are setting milestones and targets to provide visibility of our performance.  To drive action, we are focusing on things to be delivered in the next twelve months.

2025 seems like a long time for implementing some of these goals, why is there not more urgency?
We still see 2025 as a stretch for these goals, because they involve achieving significant operational changes across all farms, or because they involve more proactive engagement with the community and building trust.  Individual projects have more immediate milestones that enable us to measure progress, however the combination of the potential practice changes and the complex biological systems involved in farming mean the overall outcomes we are seeking will take time.
Why don’t you have a target for reducing GHG emissions?

We want to lead efforts on how agriculture can contribute to meeting New Zealand’s climate change reduction goals, including reducing or offsetting GHG emissions from dairy farming. We have our Dairy Action for Climate Change underway, in partnership with Government, and Fonterra’s recently announced reduction commitment.



Why don’t you have a deadline or targets for water quality improvements?
Improving water quality is a complex challenge involving the impacts of multiple rural and urban activities on waterways that must be pursued at a local level with the community.  We are already operating within regional targets that have been established through the limit setting process.  A current activity is establishing with regional councils and other sectors which of the principles of the Good Farming Practices are priorities for each region or catchment.



Isn’t reducing herd numbers the most effectively solution to over allocation and environmental impacts?
We don’t support growth or intensification where this will exceed environmental limits. However the capping of cow numbers is too simplistic. We want outcome-based policies and a planned approach to sustainable land use.
Why have you selected these environmental goals?
Water quality and greenhouse gases are clear priorities for New Zealand society and government, and present complex challenges to be overcome.

There has been significant work toward achieving the goals of the Dairy Sustainability Water Accord, as well as on research that will support farmers to reduce their environmental footprint.

More recently participants in the sector have made commitments with respect to addressing GHG emissions, for example the Dairy Action for Climate Change and reduction commitments by Dairy Companies.

The next phase of the sector’s actions requires tackling more complex challenges, like working toward swimmable waterways or achieving New Zealand’s climate change commitments, so we need to work on them with the wider primary sector and other land users to make a difference. Some of this change will be at the farm level, but we believe a broader change across New Zealand is needed that encompasses government, all land users, and communities.

We are also committed to working toward a clearer long-term view of sustainable land use in New Zealand. Developing this vision will take time because the issues are complex. What we will be doing sooner is develop the benchmarks and targets that future farm systems may need to achieve and to report on how the sector is performing against these.

What does it mean to be ‘world leading in on-farm animal care’?
Expectations of consumers and the public are always evolving.  As a sector we must be future-focussed and have a framework that is dynamic and supports continuous improvement.  We have completed a public survey, and are consulting with national and international experts on animal welfare as well as farmers and dairy processor customers to inform the design of this framework.  A draft framework will be further developed with farmers over the coming year.  New Zealand is already recognised by the WSPA animal protection index as one of the best in the world based on its strong regulatory framework for animal welfare.  The work we are doing under this commitment will further strengthen that position.
Why is your goal to have ‘New Zealand’s most talented workforce’?
The importance of people came up consistently throughout the development of the strategy. Our farmers, and the wider sector, want to have a strong culture that values people and creates vibrant teams, as well as fundamentally prioritising the health, wellbeing, and safety of our people.

We believe the dairy sector can provide an inspiring profession with great career options, and we heard clearly from farmers that they want support from the sector to encourage students and young people to consider a dairy career.  We are also aware that the traditional driver for a dairy career – a pathway to farm ownership – is no longer valid for many, and we must have attractive alternatives.  We are developing a range of new initiatives to be implemented by 2020 that will help to achieve this.

What does this community goal mean?

We have heard strongly we must do more to engage with our communities, whether rural or urban.  We believe the dairy sector already has an important role in New Zealand communities and can play a role in building stronger communities.  This will involve a combination of the impacts of commitments one to five, and the contribution people involved in the dairy sector make to community life.  We will continue to advocate to help our rural areas to have the infrastructure and services they need, to be vibrant and prosperous.

We have also included an aspirational goal to be a highly trusted business sector in New Zealand by 2025.  We must find an appropriate metric, but this is a key way we’ll hold ourselves to account for our engagement with the communities and working to build trust.



There seem to be a lot of things being asked of farmers? Aren’t these just building more costs and telling farmers what to do.
Several goals relate to action at the farm level and we will ensure that they are implemented in a holistic and integrated way that is efficient and cost-effective for farmers.  Farmers will also be closely involved in how they are developed and implemented.  A key initiative we are developing is to bring together all the on-farm aspects covered by the strategy into a single planning framework that will simplify how farmers approach the year-by-year investment and compliance activities involved in being sustainable.


The strategy was launched over a year ago, what has happened since?
When the strategy was launched we spoke of an 18-month transition period over which activities under the previous strategy would be completed, or realigned to the six dairy tomorrow commitments.  This process is well underway and has included realignment of DairyNZ’s investments (see DairyNZ Annual Report).  We are still working on a revised industry scorecard that better reflects the six commitments, meanwhile the measures from the previous strategy remain in place (see DairyNZ 2018 Strategy Scorecard).

See also achievements and activities.