Making dairy farming work for everyone - these are important words for this country's biggest export earner, with $13.7 billion of product exported last year Dairying is now New Zealand's most important industry.
Production has grown almost 50 per cent over the past 10 years and the sector now employs 45,000 people.
These words also form the heading for DairyNZ's recently released strategy for sustainable dairy farming 2013-2020. This was officially launched by the Prime Minister John Key and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy along with several hundred industry leaders at Parliament on July 9.
I need to congratulate Willy Leferink, Andrew Hoggard and the team from Federated Farmers' Dairy for their assistance with this; it was very pleasing to hear complimentary comments about Federated Farmers' involvement from the Prime Minister down.
I like the two main headings of the strategy, rather than the more commonly used "profitable" and "sustainable" headings the strategy has chosen "Competitive - global and local" and "Responsible - today and tomorrow".
All farmers are aware we need to be both competitive and responsible. As dairying has become an ever-more important part of our national prosperity, so too has dairy farmers' desire to continue lifting their responsibility for today and tomorrow. Better environmental stewardship, better animal welfare, a better work environment and even more support for local communities, are all very significant to making dairy farming work for everyone.
An important part of this, the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord was also launched at the function on July 9. This accord is a step up and improvement on the previous Clean Streams Accord and is effectively the dairy sector's commitment to self-improvement.
As a dry stock farmer, I am really impressed with the commitment by all dairy industry participants to achieve real progress around riparian, effluent, nutrient and water use management.
I look across the fence and see an industry working well together, collaborating for a better tomorrow. We sheep farmers could learn a thing or two!
For all farmers, over recent years there has been a fundamental shift in the expectations of farming beyond the farm gate. We hold an important place in our economy; our success is New Zealand's success.
There is an ever-growing public awareness of the long term consequences of the way we treat our land and our water. "Making dairy farming work for everyone" is another step in the right direction to ensuring that these expectations are met and exceeded.