Fonterra is offering farmers a free farm environment plan.

This season, Fonterra introduced a guide for farmers called the co-operative difference.

The five focus areas of the guide are co-operative and prosperity, environment, animal, people and community and milk.

The environmental plan comes under the environment area, managed by sustainable dairying advisors.

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Fonterra regional head for Taranaki, Don Lumsden, says the environmental plan involves having a plan around all the things on a farm that can affect the environment.

These include waterways, managing effluent, the soil and land, nutrients and water and irrigation.

"These all tie together in the farm environment plan.

"The farm is mapped out and then the sustainable dairying advisors work with the farmer on areas that can be improved for a more sustainable farm."

Farmer and 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Trish Rankin says apart from being a free service, one of the major benefits of the Farm Environment Plan process is its simplicity.

"It's easy to do and probably only took about three hours all up. The plan identifies any 'hot spots' – what you are doing well and any areas for improvement. It's a fresh pair of non-judgemental eyes looking over your farm, and it just feels good to get it done before someone says you need to do it."

Don says personally, he believes there are two fundamental reasons behind the plans.

"The first reason is the plan helps to look after the land and planet. The second reason is our customers recognise globally that they want to buy products from companies with sustainable land, from the cow to the product.

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"The farm environment plan is one part in showing our customers that we have a sustainable supply chain."