Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : February 2011 Contents The Dairyman FEBRUARY 2011 39
CARING Dairying, the organisation pro-
moting good dairy farming practice,
says there are strong market indicators
that milk produced to guaranteed standards
can receive a premium price.
"The market is increasingly putting a
value on products whose provenance is
known and which are guaranteed to be pro-
duced according to sustainable farming prac-
tice," said Caring Dairying's Dr Hugh Jellie.
"It's not just the quality of the milk the
market is looking at, it is the quality of the
farming practices used to produce the milk."
Caring Dairying, which was represented at
the recent World Dairy Summit in Auckland,
said there was considerable interest in the
concept from supermarket chains such as
Waitrose in the UK.
"The way that milk is produced, processed
and marketed in New Zealand is still based
on the commodity market," said Dr Jellie.
"Farmers with high standards of produc-
tion and who care about their farming prac-
tices generally get the same price for their
milk as other suppliers with lower standards.
"We know that we can lift returns by
developing markets for products that are
made from milk farmed by differentiated
certified producers who comply with specif-
ic guidelines in their animal welfare, envi-
ronmental and other aspects of their farm
business," said Dr Jellie.
He said his analysis of dairy farming in
New Zealand showed consistent shortcom-
ings in the way dairy farming was practised
and this was holding back our ability as an
industry to reap greater returns from the mar-
"There have been some recent issues
which have raised concerns about current
dairy farming practices not only here in New
Zealand but internationally," Dr Jellie said,
citing widely reported instances of malnour-
ished cows and induced bobby calves as well
as the whole debate about the environmental
impacts of dairy farming.
"The market has confirmed to us that these
things are becoming increasingly important
to today's consumers of dairy products."
Dr Jellie said Caring Dairying had devel-
oped a quality mark that would provide inter-
national buyers of dairy products an assur-
ance that the milk had come from sustainable
Farms can be audited to achieve certified
status which shows they follow good farming
practice in their dairy farming business.
"Good farming practice" has been defined
and benchmarked and the audit assesses the
farm business against these defined bench-
"Farmers need a financial reason to
change," said Dr Jellie. "Enforcement alone
is not sufficient to cause a sustained change
In this context, he said, the word sustain-
able meant adding value and therefore
improved returns for the milk, leading to bet-
ter and more profitable farming business
based on good farming practice.
"A large part of the dairy farming industry
is operating with a significant level of debt.
Quite simply farmers need to get more
money for what they produce and the only
way to do it is to differentiate our products in
the marketplace," said Dr Jellie.
A quality or sustainability mark has a clear
market value which will be reflected in the
prices farmers can expect for their milk.
"Caring Dairying has developed a set of
quality parameters against which we can
measure the performance of dairy farms
according to sustainable practices.
"Farmers who farm according to these
parameters will not only have happy, healthy
cows and a safe environment, they will be
able to earn more for their milk in the mar-
Dr Jellie said his group had been talking to
industry stakeholders both in New Zealand
and internationally who confirm that a quali-
ty guarantee of sustainability will improve
"It is in the commercial interests of New
Zealand dairy farmers to lift their sights in all
aspects of farm management.
"Our aim is to have New Zealand dairy
products that are certified as complying with
good production systems and processes
along similar lines to the way some products
carry the Heart Foundation tick.
"We know that a market for such products
exists and New Zealand's production is only
a drop in that market," said Dr Jellie.
"It will be good for farmers, good for New
Zealand and good for dairy consumers."
Caring dairy farming can
lead to higher returns
Dr Hugh Jellie
for good dairy
0800 666 754
Guy Pilkington 021 371 829
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