Farmers Co-op sponsors organic farmer education
From New Zealand Organic Dairy Farmers Co-operative Ltd
14 November 2008
Organic Dairy Farmers Co-op sponsors organic farmer education initiative
The New Zealand Organic Dairy Farmers Co-operative (NZODFC) has announced that it is the main sponsor of a programme of extension group workshops for dairy and dry stock farmers throughout the North Island.
The workshops will be delivered by Organic Ag under the direction of well known organic farm educator, Bill Quinn. Their purpose will be to assist both organic dairy farmers, and farmers wanting to convert to organic dairying, to maximise their opportunities and profitability through efficient on farm production systems.
“We want them to be able to produce premium quality organic milk,” says NZODFC supply manager, Russell Simmons.
The day long workshops will be run every month with the first starting in Taranaki on Monday 17 November followed on in the Manawatu (18Nov), Waikato (21 Nov), Bay of Plenty (24 Nov), and Northland in the near future. Further workshops are scheduled to be held in December, January, February and March.
Mr Simmons says the extension group workshops will help farmers better understand how the different segments of their farms, such as animal husbandry, and soil and pasture management, link together to produce organic milk of the highest quality.
‘In addition to providing them with valuable educational information and resources, the extension group workshops will create the opportunity for farmers to share ideas and concepts with each other so that they can increase their organic milk output or convert to organic dairying using the best practices available.’
‘Because we don’t have enough milk supply to meet the growing demand for premium organic products both here in New Zealand and overseas, we want to help as many farmers as possible to acquire the knowledge and skills to produce the best quality organic milk.’
The NZODFC represents one of the largest group of organic dairy farmers in New Zealand. Shareholder numbers have grown to 44 and the milk supplier base has grown to 13, supplying 10 million litres of organic milk. In 2009, a further 10 suppliers are scheduled to join the co-op.
Using contract dairy processors, NZODFC has focused on the production of organic cheese products and has already successfully fulfilled export orders to several overseas markets.
The co-op has now acquired the Okato dairy factory in Taranaki which it is presently upgrading to produce organic cheese. When completed in mid 2009, its organic cheddar, havarti and gouda cheeses will be exported to meet the increasing demand for organic dairy products.
‘Global sales of organic food and beverages grew by 15 per cent in 2006 to USD 40 billion, and in the USA alone sales grew by 21%,’ says Mr Simmons. ‘Organic dairy products form a significant part of the organic food and beverage segment, with sales in the USA growing by 24% in the same period.’
‘While the United States and Europe are the biggest consumers of organic cheese, expanding Asian consumption represents a huge opportunity for New Zealand organic famers,’ he says.
‘In fact demand for organic dairy products keeps growing, especially from New Zealand which is seen to be clean and green and producing premium quality products from high quality milk.’