All sectors have early adoptees. People who take a leadership position by seeing an opportunity and who leap feet first into the unknown.
In the dairy sector, we call these people our dairy environmental leaders.
Many farmers in the dairy sector are leading with environmental practices, but dairy environment leaders have taken it a step further.
They have not only been ahead of the game when it comes to thinking about how to make environmental improvements on their farms – the kinds of improvements that increase economic sustainability and help future proof their farming business – but have also undertaken to share that knowledge and learning with others.
Later this month we will be announcing the names of 12 individuals, who are already dairy environment leaders, and who we also consider to be climate change leaders for the dairy sector.
They will be our climate change ambassadors, and will work with us this year as we focus on helping the dairy sector think about New Zealand’s transition to a low carbon economy – and how we can help by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
For the dairy sector, our focus is on biological greenhouse gases – these are methane and nitrous oxide. Most of the methane is released when ruminant animals burp, and most of the nitrous oxide is produced when animal urine interacts with microbes in the soil.
The dairy sector’s biological emissions make up 22.5 per cent of New Zealand’s emissions and nearly half of all agricultural emissions.
We know it isn’t just our climate change ambassadors who are already thinking about the opportunities for reducing these biological emissions.
Many farmers across the country are already thinking and working in this way. This is partially because some of the work farmers have underway to improve water quality also has the co-benefits of improving their greenhouse gas emissions.
The Zero Carbon Bill, which will be introduced to Parliament later this year, puts into action the Government’s aspirations for New Zealand to become a world leader in climate change.
It will establish an Independent Climate Change Commission which will develop five-year rolling carbon budgets outlining how each sector of the economy will meet New Zealand’s greenhouse gas reduction targets, as well as deciding whether biological emissions should face a price in the Emissions Trading Scheme.
The consultation period for this legislation opens on May 31. I encourage all farmers to get involved and help us get the best outcome for the dairy sector in the final legislation.
We will be discussing this proposed legislation at our eight regional climate change workshops for farmers in June. Farmers are welcome to come to learn about what opportunities there are for dairy farmers to reduce their environmental footprint, and help New Zealand’s dairy sector become a world leader in climate change.
Workshop registration is essential and can be found in the DairyNZ website.
– Dr Tim Mackle is chief executive of DairyNZ
By: TIM MACKLE