| Rising to meet environmental challenges and supporting each other through change will top the agenda when Dairy Environment Leaders meet in Wellington for their annual forum on March 16-17. |
Dairy Environment Leaders (DELs) are leading farmers from across the country, who work with other farmers, their communities and decision makers to drive positive change.
DEL chair Melissa Slattery said the forum is timely as the sector responds to climate change and water quality regulations, and farmers are supported with profitable and sustainable practices.
The forum’s theme this year is Manaakitanga – supporting through change. “Dairy farming has changed over the years and will continue to evolve to meet the expectations of our communities and consumers. There will be huge challenges – but there are also huge opportunities,” said Melissa.
“We all want the same things: clean water, low emissions and a strong economy. We can’t solve the challenges ahead in isolation and all New Zealanders need to make changes. “Most farmers are open to change but they want confidence what is being asked is fair and practical, and assurance that if they invest, the goalposts won’t shift.
“Farmers also need support to succeed – and that includes significant Government investment in R&D and rural broadband.”
Speakers at this year’s forum include Climate Change Commission chair Dr Rodd Carr who will give the keynote address, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and speakers from other sectors.
“It’s important we hear from other sectors to highlight we aren’t alone and to learn from their approach. All New Zealanders will need to make changes to address climate change and dairy farmers are committed to playing their part,” said Melissa.
“We will also meet with a number of MPs in Parliament to discuss the sector and where we see the greatest opportunities for change.”
The DELs come from across New Zealand and bring diverse backgrounds and experience. “Dairy Environment Leaders build on the great work dairy farmers are doing throughout the country to reduce dairy’s environmental footprint, while maintaining profitable farm businesses,” said Melissa.
“We will be talking about the support DELs can give to other farmers regionally to build on the work on their farms and in regional environmental initiatives. Farmers supporting farmers has always been a key part of the dairy farming culture,” said Melissa.
About the Dairy Environment Leaders
The Dairy Environment Leaders group was formed by DairyNZ in 2013 to empower leadership and help farmers support other farmers making change to reduce environmental footprint.
The vision of the DEL programme is to foster kaitiakitanga – stewardship for the future. There are now more than 300 DELs throughout the country. About 40 DELs are expected to attend this year’s forum. The DELs provide a voice at regional and national level including with government, sector groups and other sector leaders.
DELs are active in their communities at grassroots level, on boards and local committees. The DELs demonstrate excellent environmental practice on their own farms, including protecting and enhancing waterways, riparian planting and reducing emissions.