Climate Change Ambassadors are leaders for climate change action on dairy farms. They help communicate the challenges and opportunities dairy farmers face in playing their part to address climate change, alongside the rest of New Zealand.
“The 13 ambassadors are leading dairy farmers who run their farms sustainably and profitably, while being committed to reducing on-farm greenhouse gas emissions,” said DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Dr David Burger.
“The ambassadors work to raise awareness and mobilise change for the benefit of the environment, farmers and New Zealand.”
Mr McGougan (42), from Whakatane, said he was looking forward to leading the ambassadors to engage with farmers, communities and decision-makers, and to provide a farmer voice at national level. He has been a Climate Change Ambassador since 2018.
“Farmers want to be part of the climate change solution,” said Mr McGougan. “Our role as Climate Change Ambassadors includes helping farmers understand the changes they can make on their farm to reduce emissions and improve water quality, while maintaining or even increasing profitability.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach and small incremental changes on individual farms add up to big changes nationally.”
Mr McGougan said now is a critical time in the national conversation about emissions reductions, with the Climate Change Commission announcing draft carbon budgets on how New Zealand can meet its climate change obligations.
Research by AgResearch has confirmed New Zealand dairy is already the world’s lowest emissions producer of milk. But there is more to be done to maintain our competitive advantage and do the right thing by the environment and New Zealanders, said Mr McGougan.
New scientific developments will be important in supporting farmers to continue to address climate change, and investment in R&D and support from the government were crucial, he said.
Mr McGougan is a fourth-generation farmer – Willowvale Farm has been in the McGougan family for 120 years. He and his wife Katherine have 430 cows on 143 hectares.
Among a number of awards, the couple won the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards Supreme Award in 2019. They have three children, Emily, Isaac and Liam.
The McGougans have fenced all their waterways, matched their stocking rate to what the land can sustainably carry and decreased their imported feed.
The Climate Change Ambassadors group was created in 2018 under the Dairy Action for Climate Change. New members have been appointed this year to maintain the diversity of the group, with a mix of locations, farm systems and experience.
The five new ambassadors appointed to the Climate Change Ambassadors are:
Waikato farmers Graeme Barr and Melissa Slattery (Dairy Environment Leaders chair), Southland farmer Steve Smith, and Canterbury farmers Ash-leigh Campbell and Phill Everest.
DairyNZ has confirmed the full group of Climate Change Ambassadors as follows.
Fraser McGougan, chair – Bay of Plenty
George Moss, vice chair – Waikato
Andrew Booth – Northland
Earle Wright – North Auckland
Graeme Barr – Waikato
Melissa Slattery – Waikato
Trish Rankin – Taranaki
Aidan Bichan – Wairarapa
Vern Brasell – Wairarapa
Ash-Leigh Campbell – Canterbury
Phill Everest – Canterbury
Louise Cook – Southland
Steve Smith – Southland
For more information on DairyNZ Climate Change Ambassadors, go to dairynz.co.nz/CCA
DairyNZ created the Climate Change Ambassadors farmer group in 2018 as part of the dairy sector’s commitment through its Dairy Action for Climate Change to help farmers understand the challenge of climate change, the scientific research underway and the environmental mitigations they can make on farms right now.
All Climate Change Ambassadors are also DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders. The vision of the Dairy Environment Leaders programme is to foster kaitiakitanga – stewardship for the future, and to support farmers to implement on-farm and catchment scale change to reduce environmental footprint.
Formed in 2013, there are now more than 300 Dairy Environment Leaders.