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Dairy farmers to cast milksolids levy vote

Kirsty Dickins, DairyNZ consulting officer hosting a discussion group with farmers late last year

Dairy farmers are encouraged to have their say in the milksolids levy vote 2020, which is now open for voting. It is a one-in-six year vote for industry good organisation, DairyNZ.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel said the milksolids levy funds industry good activities through DairyNZ which delivers dairy sector research, development, advocacy and expertise.

“The milksolids levy has been part of New Zealand dairy farming for 17 years. Its roots are in funding work that enables farmers to continue thriving in an ever-changing world. With the challenges of COVID-19, the changing nature of farming has never been more real,” said Mr van der Poel.

“I encourage farmers to vote and ensure their dairy farm neighbours and friends have their say too. DairyNZ is a farmer-owned organisation – it’s important we receive their vote to continue supporting our farmers through science, research and advocacy.”

All levy payers – farm owners, sharemilkers and leaseholders – can place a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote until 5pm, May 30. The current levy order expires in November and is required by Government legislation, through the Commodity Levies Act 1990. Levy paying farmers contribute 3.6c per kilogram of milksolids (kgMS) produced.

“DairyNZ represents dairy farmers and helps deliver a better future for them and all New Zealanders, through a thriving dairy sector. If there is a yes vote, farmers will continue to receive all the benefits of DairyNZ and we will continue to support the delivery of the Dairy Tomorrow strategy, which is the sector’s blueprint for the future.”

“I believe in an organisation that exists to work exclusively for dairy farmers. Not many sectors have an industry-good organisation like ours. DairyNZ has helped us achieve real success as a sector and it’s a real strength for our future,” said Mr van der Poel.

Dairy Tomorrow guides DairyNZ’s investments and was developed by partners representing the dairy sector – DairyNZ, Dairy Women’s Network, Federated Farmers and Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand.

Through the milksolids levy, DairyNZ invests in farm systems, research and development, environmental protection, animal care, biosecurity, building great dairy workplaces, industry sponsorships and supporting vibrant communities. DairyNZ’s investment in TBfree’s national bovine tuberculosis (TB) control programme is the single largest investment from the milksolids levy.

The milksolids levy vote is open from mid-April until 30 May 2020. Voting packs have been posted to all eligible levy paying dairy farmers, including sharemilkers and dairy farm leaseholders, who produce milk from cows and supplied a dairy processor in the 2019/20 season (year ended 31 May 2020).

Voting packs will be in mailboxes soon. Farmers can vote via or post until 30 May 2020. With some uncertainty around mail delivery during COVID-19, farmers are encouraged to vote early.

For more information, visit or call DairyNZ ph 0800 4 324 7969.


• The levy vote process is required by Government legislation and is collected under terms set out in the Commodity Levies Act 1990.
• The current levy order expires in November 2020 and DairyNZ must make an application to the Ministry for Primary Industries in the next few months, which would need to include a clear indication of farmer support. Because of this, DairyNZ is unable to postpone the vote.
• DairyNZ is working hard to ensure farmers have all the information they need to make an informed decision.
• The levy rate has remained at 3.6c/kilogram of milksolids since 2008.
• In 2018/19, a total of $67.8 million was collected through the milksolids levy, plus DairyNZ received additional government funding.


• DairyNZ is working with industry partners and government to position dairy farmers for the future and help achieve policies based on science, evidence and doing what is right, in line with the dairy sector strategy Dairy Tomorrow.
• DairyNZ’s investment in OSPRI’s TBfree national TB control programme is the single largest investment from the milksolids levy – $14.5m in 2018/19. Investment in bovine tuberculosis (TB) eradication is working – since 1996, the number of infected dairy herds has dropped from 230 to just 11.
• DairyNZ’s policy and advocacy teams, in partnership with other sector groups, have successfully engaged with Government to limit constraints and proposed costs for farmers. Significant wins include He Waka Eke Noa and the sector agreement to keep agriculture out of the Emissions Trading Scheme. These will save farmers over $5 billion during the next 30 years.
• DairyNZ has been representing dairy farmers to Government to advocate for practical, science-based solutions to improve water quality.
• DairyNZ has invested significantly in research and on-farm studies, thanks to this we know that forage crops, such as plantain, greatly reduce N loss from soils. And that protecting wetlands and critical source areas are key, among many other results.
• During COVID-19, DairyNZ is working with our industry partners to ensure our farm teams, families and supporting services are safe and implementing the right measures to protect themselves while continuing their work on-farm as essential businesses. Comprehensive resources for farmers are available on the DairyNZ website.
• COVID-19 advice from DairyNZ includes on-farm guidelines, how to maintain health and safety and what to do if a staff member gets sick. DairyNZ is also providing advice on animal care, feed and feed shortages, cull cows and providing support around Moving Day, including engagement with our partners and Government.
• DairyNZ is working on a programme to support Kiwis to upskill and get a career in dairy, which includes adapting to new requirements presented by COVID-19. A training programme is part of this and would involve working with farm employers to transition people in. DairyNZ has an active website GoDairy aimed at inspiring young people and school leavers to pursue a career in dairy.
• There has been a significant commitment by DairyNZ on Mycoplasma bovis management. DairyNZ is in the response and working directly with and for farmers.
• DairyNZ has been heavily involved in climate change negotiations with government, representing dairy farmers in the Zero Carbon Bill conversations and establishing how farmers can meet the reduced emissions targets.
• As part of the sector’s commitment to building great workplaces, DairyNZ is ensuring dairy farmers have the people they need to keep things running – particularly staff and migrant workers, working closely with Federated Farmers and the Government to see certainty on immigration and employment. DairyNZ is pleased to see the visa extension recently announced.


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