That’s the finding of the latest New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) quarterly report released.
Federated Farmers’ Dairy Industry chairman Andrew Hoggard said the report was not surprising and once again illustrated the value and importance of our largest export sector.
“It says it all really. Our industry contributes $7.8 billion to New Zealand’s total GDP. That basically means 30 per cent of export dollars coming back into the country is courtesy of dairy,” he said.
The industry had been subject to scrutiny during the recent downturn in terms of its resilience and future sustainability, but Mr Hoggard said the NZIER report should set the record straight and dispel the doom and gloom merchants.
“Unfortunately there remains negative perceptions about our industry and yet we employ over 40,000 workers, supporting regional economic development and growth.
“There’s lots of jobs in these rural areas which wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for dairy. What perhaps people don’t realise is the flow-on effects go past the farmgate, generating millions of dollars for local economies,” he said.
One particular satisfying outcome was the industry’s increasing awareness and action around environmental obligations, which was being achieved alongside more industry profitability.
“It’s well publicised now that as an industry we have spent in the region of $1 billion on environmental management systems, whether it is looking after effluent, planting around our waterways and identifying land not appropriate for dairying and protecting it.
“The reality is the dairy industry is vital to our country’s overall economic health. Even in the most difficult trading conditions with the current geopolitical situation, we are coping well and still holding our own.
“This report confirms that our dairy industry is resilient and capable of meeting future challenges around economic volatility and environmental sustainability.
“It also predicts increasing demand globally for dairy products and the potential for emerging markets which would enable us to maintain our competitiveness,” Andrew said.