The release of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's (PCE) report on methane emissions from livestock has industry leaders speaking out about progress made in this space.

DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle told The Country's Jamie Mackay the dairy industry is taking a positive approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but admits it's not an easy task.

"We've been working on this for over 10 years now and it's a tough nut to crack ... but things are getting closer."

Research and farm management are essential tools to help reduce emissions says Mackle.


"The amount of milk protein produced per kilogram of carbon dioxide output has been steadily improving the efficiency year on year ... Things like breeding efficiency and improvements to farm management ... it's improved by about 1 per cent per year over the last few decades."

Mackay points out this is a small incremental increase and that perhaps reducing cow numbers is the way forward.

"Even though roughly half of our greenhouse gases in New Zealand come from agriculture and dairy is almost 25 per cent of that, so it is a big chunk - we are one of the most, if not the most efficient producers of milk and meat per kilo of carbon dioxide in the world."

Mackle says if New Zealand starts to produce less carbon dioxide then another country will pick it up and "they will produce that milk or meat at a higher carbon footprint".

The dairy industry is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, says Mackle, but it's going to take some "clever thinking" to maintain economic and social benefits as well.

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