Kia ora!

Kia ora

Just returned from New Zealand (NZ) after attending a fantastic conference with Global Dairy Farmers. NZ stands as an imposing agricultural nation, relying entirely on exports. Here are my key take-home messages.

Governments worldwide are gaining influence over agriculture, posing both opportunities and threats.

Notably, the situation in China appears to be stabilizing, while there's a surge in demand for dairy in Southeast Asia. The US isn't expecting a significant increase in milk production soon, but lower feed prices could change that. In Europe and NZ, there won’t be much more milk produced in the next few years, possibly even less. In NZ, it's not feasible to start a new dairy farm, but innovation or replacement is allowed in certain cases.

Globally, there's a prevalent wait-and-see attitude in dairy farming, accompanied by some uncertainty. However, it's expected that the demand for dairy (animal protein) will continue to rise. The big question looming is: where will this dairy be produced, and by whom?

Fonterra is making clear choices in making the sector more sustainable, actively working with methane blockers, among other initiatives. They also recently launched the Carbon Footprinter, providing customers insight into CO2 data. Fonterra aims for a 50% reduction of Greenhouse Gases by 2030 and 0% by 2050.

Another global development is the increasing interest of investors from outside the industry in farmland. In Illinois, US, 70% of farmland is already leased. In NZ, notable involvement comes from the government as a major dairy farmer through PĀMU, alongside substantial dairy farm ownership by Swedish hedge funds, Chinese companies, and US investors.

At the grassroots level in NZ, notable advancements are underway, including the widespread adoption of plantain in grass mixtures, demonstrating an impressive 18% reduction in N-leaching.

These developments underscore the dynamic nature of the dairy industry, driven by innovation, sustainability, and global market forces.

This trip reinforced to me, and to Global Dairy Farmers, that collaboration, innovation, and sustainability are key to the future of dairy farming globally.


Ad van Velde, president Global Dairy Farmers