Fonterra needs to pay green farmers

This carrot rather than stick approach would help lift farmers at the bottom to a better environmental standard, award-winning dairy farmer Rod McKinnon said.

‘‘I’m a carrot person. If you give me an incentive, I’m going to work towards that.

‘‘I think the big dairy companies could learn from a smaller dairy company in the South Island called Synlait.’’

He and wife Sandra won the supreme award at the Waikato Farm Environment Awards and hosted about 60 people at a field day on their 194 hectare farm near Matamata.

Dairy companies Synlait and Miraka operate schemes where farmers are given payment bonuses above the milk payment for meeting criteria.

‘‘Maybe that’s where we should be heading.

‘‘It’s time to be carrots, not sticks. Synlait has a great programme,’’ McKinnon said. ‘‘Their lead-with-pride is a really strong case for what they are doing.’’

He is ‘‘frustrated’’ that some farmers are doing their part to reduce their environmental impact, yet others are not but were receiving the same price for their milk.

‘‘It is important to us that everyone is brought up to a standard, McKinnon said.

‘‘If the farmer down the road finds they are getting 20 cents less than me. They’ll do something about it.’’

He suspected Fonterra’s size and co-operative structure where it had to be fair to all its suppliers inhibited it from creating a scheme.

He said Environment Minister David Parker had a point when he recently called for tighter controls for farmers on nutrient limits.

‘‘Not so much around reducing cow numbers and things like that but reducing what we are putting into the environment.’’

McKinnon said they were ‘‘genuinely thrilled’’ to have won the award, especially the stewardship and sustainability category awards.

‘‘That was really important to us because that’s what we have been doing for 25 years. We didn’t know we were doing it but that’s what we have been doing.’’

‘‘Sandra and I have developed this philosophy that less is more and we genuinely believe that’s where we all [have to be].’’

Waikato Federated Farmers president and Fonterra supplier Andrew McGiven said calls for an incentive scheme had been canvassed at past shareholder meetings but rejected by officials.

‘‘They seem to think there is a fairness issue with Fonterra being a co-operative but I don’t see any issues with incentivising farmers to do best practice.’’

Fonterra’s Tiaki sustainable dairy programme is pushing it towards an incentives scheme.

The increased competition on Waikato’s dairy landscape could also spur Fonterra to develop an incentive scheme.

‘‘The milk environment is getting more competitive and they will need to start looking at these incentives,’’ McGiven said. ‘‘They talk about the value add of the milk in the finished product, why not talk about value add at the start of the process as well.’’ Sharemilkers shifting cattle on Gypsy Day should not be ‘‘paralysed’’ by the risk of herds catching Mycoplasma bovis, industry leaders say.

The cattle disease has spread to 39 farm nationwide, adding to a stressful time for herd owning sharemilkers as they prepare later this month for the annual shift to new farms to start new jobs for the 2018-19 season.

Federated Farmers sharemilkers chairman Richard McIntyre said while it will be adding pressure to a stressful time, it also had to be put into perspective. ‘‘We have to be careful not to get too hysterical about it, it is something that we will find a.

By:

Source: Waikato Times

Link: https://www.pressreader.com/new-zealand/waikato-times/20180522/281814284523128

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