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Education Resource Highlights NZ Dairy And Red Meat’s Role In Feeding Global Population

A new climate change education resource has been released by New Zealand’s pastoral farming sector.

The resource, ‘The important role of New Zealand dairy and red meat in feeding a growing global population’, has been co-authored by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

It explores the complex relationship between environmental, economic, nutritional, social and global food security outcomes in New Zealand’s food system. Written in a straight-forward and science-based style, it will provide secondary school students, in particular, with balanced information.

As a producer of food for around 10 times its own population, New Zealand has a unique emissions profile and consequently has a unique challenge in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to considering the environmental impact of agricultural products, we must also consider their nutritional value, Federated Farmers President and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

"As the world’s population increases and climate change impacts the ability for many nations to produce nutritious food, efficiently produced red meat and dairy will become even more important," Andrew says.

New Zealand pasture-fed beef, lamb and dairy provides high-quality protein and micronutrients. New Zealand’s red meat and dairy products consumed overseas can result in less greenhouse gas emissions than the same food produced locally in other countries, even with the transport emissions involved in shipping the product calculated.

DairyNZ general manager of responsible dairy, Jenny Cameron, says New Zealand dairy is currently the most emissions efficient milk producer in the world.

"Providing students with this information is important, to showcase the work of all our farmers, while highlighting our continued journey to remain world leading, which is the result of farmers’ hard work and investment over decades," Ms Cameron says.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Head of Nutrition, Fiona Windle says: "As the resource outlines, it is important to consider the nutritional density of foods, including the amount of amino acids (units of protein) a food delivers within a varied and balanced dietary pattern, alongside the environmental impact when determining a healthy and environmentally-friendly diet."

The sector partners want to use this education resource to highlight our world-leading products, while also working hard to make great New Zealand farmers even better.

"It is also important to remember that the emissions footprints of New Zealand red meat and milk are dominated by methane. Methane is a short-lived gas that does not need to reach net zero in order to be warming neutral," Dylan Muggeridge, Environment Strategy Manager at Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says.

While the education resource has not yet been tailored for specific year levels or subjects, the secretary and treasurer of New Zealand Horticulture/ Agriculture Teachers Association (HATA), Kerry Allen, can see its potential.

"This is a great science-based resource for our senior students to really sink their teeth into. It contains some fantastic graphs, videos and facts, to ensure a thorough understanding of all the issues. It is based on facts and scientific data, and removes the emotion out of the discussion. I look forward to using this resource with my students," Kerry says.

The online education resource is a great way for young people and the wider general public to explore the complex and ongoing climate change, food production and nutrition issues.

"New Zealand farmers are not shying away from the immense challenges posed by climate change. We’re eager to have challenging but fair conversations," Andrew Hoggard says.

"Our pastoral industry is keen to work with the Ministry of Education to make this resource fit-for -purpose for classrooms."

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