NZ dairy industry gets $170m cooperative boost

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 17th August 2010

Milk splashNew Zealand is set to receive a boost to its dairy industry, with the announcement today of a NZ$170 million (A$133.6 million) research program designed to ‘drive transformational change in the dairy industry’.

The program will include new research and training to boost on-farm productivity and sustainability, as well as post-farm gate research in the areas of Nutrition, Food Structure and Manufacturing and Supply Chain processes.

DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle said it was a major step for the ongoing development of the New Zealand dairy industry which is designed to bring significant benefits across the whole primary sector.

“This major investment will create the biggest change in decades in research, training, and knowledge transfer to increase the rate of innovation on both sides of the farm gate, all of which can be leveraged to benefit New Zealand’s wider primary industry,” said Dr Mackle.

The seven-year program, funded by government-industry initiative Primary Growth Partnership, will include $29 million in funding from industry interest body DairyNZ and $47 from Fonterra. A further $9 million is being contributed by the other PGP industry partners: Synlait, Landcorp, LIC, Young Farmers, Agricultural Services Limited and ZESPRI.

“Further innovation on both sides of the farm gate will place the New Zealand dairy industry and Fonterra in a strong position to meet the evolving needs of customers. Today, consumers are always seeking foods that are safer, tastier, more convenient, natural, healthy, good value and produced in more sustainable ways,” said Fonterra Chief Technology Officer, Jeremy Hill.

As well as new research to boost on-farm productivity and reduce the environmental footprint of dairying, the on-farm component includes a range of new training, networking and professional development activities designed to boost the level of professionalism across the industry.

Research will include the use of new genomic tools to identify genes that boost production, while reducing emissions and waste. Key genetic markers for fertility, lameness and mastitis will also be targeted.

“Industry skills training, education networks and on farm standards and systems are also set for a boost from PGP that will help dairying stay competitive in a fast-moving world,” said Dr Mackle.

The intention is to significantly increase staffing numbers in industry and partner research organisations to deliver the post farm gate research programme, including three new professorial appointments.

A key priority is to better understand food structures which will lead to the design of new foods to meet future consumer requirements, while research to improve processes in manufacturing and the supply chain make up the balance.

“This research will help us take our dairy ingredients into more formats, to more customers and more markets,” said Dr Hill.