The prominent role the South plays in New Zealand's dairy production was highlighted at DairyNZ's annual meeting in Invercargill last week, when DairyNZ CEO Tim Mackle reminded those attending that 20% of the milk solids produced in New Zealand comes from the Otago/Southland region.

DairyNZ chairman Jim van der Poel told the meeting the farming community was committed to farming within environmental limits while maximising value from pasture-based farming systems.

''This is what continues to be our competitive advantage,'' Mr van der Poel said.

He said that by continuing to improve farming's sustainability, the sector was safeguarding dairying's future.

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Mr van der Poel said the Dairy Tomorrow strategy launched in 2017 was now central to the sector's future progress.

The strategy has six commitments which encompass the environment, resilient businesses, producing high-quality nutrition, animal care, great workplaces and growing vibrant communities.

''The strategy's commitments are the basis of DairyNZ's investments,'' Mr van der Poel said.

Next season, among other investments, DairyNZ will put $6.1 million into projects directed at protecting the environment as well as spending $53.7 million for research and projects supporting competitive, sustainable and resilient dairy farm businesses.

The impact of Mycoplasma bovis on dairy farmers was also discussed and Mr van der Poel said DairyNZ had been providing support to help farmers manage the situation.

According to DairyNZ's annual report about 40 staff were involved across the country to assist with the M. bovis response, working alongside MPI and other organisations.

Efforts included assisting at regional headquarters in Invercargill, Ashburton and Hamilton, helping affected farmers with feed budgets, co-ordinating feed and putting systems in place to assist farms under movement restrictions.

Mr van der Poel said DairyNZ was in negotiations with MPI to recover some of the costs providing that support.

Two new directors, Jo Coughlan and Jacqueline Rowarth, were confirmed at the meeting.

Jo Coughlan, who is from a sheep and crop farm in Mid-Canterbury and has experience in senior public relations and communication roles, replaced Barry Harris who stepped down after 11 years.

Jacqueline Rowarth was appointed into the vacant farmer-elected role on the board. She has 35 years' experience as a soil scientist and is also involved with a dairy operation in Tirau.

Canterbury dairy farmer John Gregan was appointed to the directors remuneration committee.

Southern Rural Life