Biosecurity, water storage and broadband are the three key issues on DairyNZ's wish list for Budget 2020 says Dr Tim Mackle.

Seeing the effect of Covid-19 on tourism was a reminder of how important biosecurity was to the food sector, DairyNZ's chief executive told The Country's Jamie Mackay.

In fact, before the interview, Mackle said to Mackay that "Covid-19 is to tourism what foot and mouth disease could be to farming".

"I don't want to be too Doomsday-ish about it but I think that was a bit of an 'ah-ha moment' for me personally all the way through this thing" said Mackle.


"You look at what's happened globally and locally to sectors like tourism and a lot of people, apart from [the] Wimbledon [tennis tournament] maybe, didn't necessarily expect the pandemic to be so disruptive".

"So we've got to be thinking in the food sector - what are our big issues like that? And [it's] biosecurity undoubtedly - and for us and livestock - foot and mouth".

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. Photo / Supplied
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. Photo / Supplied

"So I'm not saying we have to spend a whole lot more money at all, but it's about making sure that everything's going well - and that should be a real focus for us going forward".

Auckland's water woes meant water storage was once again in the news, but irrigation remained a "dirty word" said Mackay.

While Mackle said he viewed water storage as a "positive thing", he was concerned that irrigation's negative reputation was due to its association with dairy.

"It's not all about dairy - I think that's a key message too - there's a myth out there that irrigation and water storage means more dairy. Well actually, we're going to see a whole lot of high value horticulture coming through as well and other options".

Finally, rural broadband was "another biggie" on the Budget wishlist, but not just for DairyNZ, as many rural communities struggled to stay connected, said Mackle.

"Again this whole Covid lockdown has just underscored how important it is for everyone to have that connectivity".


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Meanwhile, Mackle was happy to report there had been a lot of interest in DairyNZ's Go Dairy campaign, which encouraged people interested in a career change to give dairy a try.

"We've had some people register which has been great ... film and television, banking, financial, a biologist, a fly fishing guide, people in hospitality, construction and forestry - so quite a raft of different career changes looking to come dairy's way".

Find out more about Go Dairy here.