30 October 2009
‘The international cow’ is the future of dairy
The only farmer out of two New Zealanders on the International Dairy Federation’s (IDF) Standing Committee on Farm Management and Animal Health, Willy Leferink, is seeing moves to internationalise standards in the dairy industry.
“Having been at the recent IDF summit in Germany, the international cow is becoming reality,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy vice-chairperson.
“The IDF is producer led, so being one of only a few farmers on my Standing Committee, there’s a strong push to develop common global guidelines for dairy husbandry.
“Given debate on New Zealand’s ETS, even the IDF’s Standing Committee on Environment reflected global confusion about how to account for carbon, which is being pushed hard by the large supermarket chains.
“We saw whole farm assessment versus part assessment and the IDF is keen to delineate between the two. This may open up opportunities to mitigate the bovine footprint through feeding systems and technology.
“A lot of work has and needs to be done on whole lifecycle analysis.
“Due to New Zealand’s leadership, seven organisations, representing 85 percent of the world’s dairy processing capacity in the IDF, signed a document called the Global Declaration on Climate Change.
“This document is about collaborative systems and tools to mitigate the climate change affects of dairy. We just need governments to put their respective euros and dollars where their respective mouths are to get in behind the likes of New Zealand’s Global Alliance concept.
“Denmark is seriously looking at introducing a tax on hard fatty acids because they are more energy intensive to produce.
“Also of concern as a farmer was a Swedish report on the Mastitis pathogen, Streptococcus agalactiae, which has re-emerged in robotic milking machines after a 50-year absence.
“Updates were presented on paratuberculosis, veterinary drugs, animal welfare, animal feeds and wildlife reservoirs, as well as ICAR (International Committee for Animal Recording) on reference systems for milk cell counting.
“All Somatic Cell Count machines in member countries will now be calibrated to the same standard. We also accepted a document on "Mastitis Terminology" that will no doubt feature at the fifth IDF International Mastitis Conference, being held in Christchurch next March.
“The animal welfare space is becoming more and not less important. Animal rights are big in Europe, particularly in Britain and the Scandinavian countries. There’s a strong push on the Farm Management Committee to develop minimum guidelines for the feeding of dairy cows.
“One thing where we have to get ahead of the game will be on environmental, social and economic factors in farming. There’s a feeling the IDF may wish to generate a series of documents with the first one proposed being ‘Dairy Hygiene’ - we’ll need to watch that carefully to avoid non-tariff barriers.
“The entire New Zealand delegation in Berlin did our country and dairy industry proud and they need to be acknowledged for their positive attitude and hard work,” Mr Leferink concluded.