Since its formation in August last year, the Southland Dairy Leaders Group (SDLG) has been working to ensure its member groups are in sync and aligned.

Chairwoman Elaine Cook said the group's primary focus was the environment, with the most recent activity targeting the new regulations around stock wintering practices in the region, which are expected to form part of the Government's new national environmental standard for freshwater management.

She said the SDLG had been working with its member groups to ensure the Ministry for the Environment received the same messages from Southland about the new regulations.

''In collaboration with Beef + Lamb New Zealand, we are working to align our recommendations to the ministry so that the [whole] sector is saying much the same thing.''


She said prior to Christmas the ministry had announced changes to the regulations.

''There seemed to be a huge focus based around wintering practices in Southland last year.''

She said DairyNZ then started a campaign to encourage farmers to be proactive and develop good wintering practices.

''We want to encourage farmers to step up in that space.''

Another challenge for dairying was the ability to resource quality people who wanted to work on dairy farms, which was also something the group was supporting.

The group's membership included representatives from the three processors - Fonterra, Mataura Valley and Open Country - as well as Federated Farmers, Dairy Women's Network, DairyNZ, catchment group representatives, advisory groups and rural consultants.

They have met monthly or six-weekly since then.

Cook said the group was formed as a region-wide leadership network to benefit the Southland dairy sector.


''It is driving local leadership across the sector and we want to ensure our messages and recommendations [from the different groups and agencies] are aligned.

It, like similar groups throughout the country, also provides support to farmers, catchment groups and as well as contributing to policy, and talking to Government on various issues.

Another of the group's aims is to identify all the groups in the area, each of which were working on their own projects.

''We want to ensure we are not crossing across each other,'' she said.

''We are not here to replace any group.

''People are doing great things and that is to be encouraged.

''We offer support, in particular to catchment groups, which are doing great work.

''We want to support them.''

They also support Environment Southland and its regional council forum for issues such as limit setting.