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Southern Pastures – Measuring Dairy For Good

Ethical investor Southern Pastures, the country’s largest institutional dairy investment fund, has been judged to be a Responsible Investment Leader for the seventh year running.

It remains the only organization from New Zealand’s agriculture and food sectors to ever be included in the annual benchmark report released by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA).

Southern Pastures owns 19 dairy farms in Waikato and Canterbury and is the owner of premium dairy brand Lewis Road Creamery and wholesale business NZ Grass Fed Products LP.

“So often the pastoral industry is judged by outputs such as emissions, but we’re not nearly as rigorously measured or assessed for the positive services that some of us provide,” says Prem Maan, Southern Pastures’ Executive Chairman.

“On our farms, we have a massive programme of work underway to sequester carbon and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and foster biodiversity through, for example, good soil management, native plantings, and animal feed. We also act at executive level as strong stewards for more sustainable and resilient assets and markets. The RIAA benchmark is one way these positive efforts are independently recognized,” says Prem.

RIAA represents investors with assets under management of over US$29 Trillion, including NZ Managers who represent $328 billion.

Southern Pastures produces milk under its independently-audited 10 Star Certified Values standard, which covers stringent grass-fed, free-range, climate-change mitigation, human welfare, animal welfare, and sustainability requirements.

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It refuses, for example, to feed its cows cheap imported palm kernel expeller (PKE) as its production directly contributes to loss of virgin rainforest and global biodiversity.

It also refuses to trade in carbon credits or offsets to achieve its zero carbon ambitions, but is committed to long-term farming techniques such as low tillage and deep-rooted plants that capture and store carbon from the atmosphere. It’s also trialing and measuring numerous other initiatives such as biochar, dung beetles and prebiotics, as well as retiring land to native plantings.

“Soil can hold up to three times the amount of carbon than the atmosphere and all plants combined,” says Prem. “We think a positive approach to preserving carbon in our soil is potentially part of the answer to mitigating climate change.”

“It’s a shame that carbon sequestration through on-farm soil management, native plantings and biodiversity is not prioritised in New Zealand over monoculture exotic trees.”

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