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Law change can support dairy and revitalise waterways

Soil & Health want Fonterra to collect all certified and in transition to organic Fonterra milk and to pay a premium for it, irrespective of locality.

“We want to see the Government better commit to organic dairy production and therefore more sustainable farming practices,” says Soil & Health National Council member and former Green Party MP, Steffan Browning.

“We consider that a shift towards organic farming practices is needed to protect and enhance our environment and our economy.”

The Ministry for Primary Industries is undertaking a comprehensive review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act which includes looking at incentives or disincentives for the dairy industry to transition to higher-value dairy production and processing that global consumers seek for a premium, and more sustainable environmental practices on and off-farm.

Soil & Health has submitted to the MPI review.

There is growing public concern about the environmental impacts from intensive dairy farming, especially in relation to water quality and human health. Certified organic dairy farming however prohibits the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, has lower stock numbers, more biodiversity, higher animal health outcomes, grass-fed cows with no GE feed or palm kernel supplements, and is generally less intensive than conventional dairy farming.

Consumers worldwide are demanding safe, healthy and more environmentally friendly food, and are prepared to pay for high quality, GE-free, organic dairy products. The 2018 OANZ Organic Market report found that the global organic dairy market is currently estimated to be worth about US$17b. By 2022 the sector is projected to be worth US$25b, the value of organic milk powder being an important contributor.

To meet the demand, Soil & Health says that government intervention is required to incentivize more organic dairy farming.

“Overall there has been limited encouragement for new organic transitions,” says Browning.

“To help farmers make the transition to organics, we would like to see the legislation require that Fonterra collect all certified organic and in transition to certified organic milk and pay a premium above the annual farm gate price for it, irrespective of location or availability of processing capacity.”


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