A group of dairy farmers traded the paddocks for the halls of Parliament today to discuss with MPs how to manage environmental issues.
The 12 farmers met with the Primary Production Select Committee to discuss how the government and sector can work together to support environmental behaviour change within the agricultural sector.
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The farmers are in Wellington for the 'Dairy Environment Leaders' annual Forum.
Waikato dairy farmer George Moss reinforced the dairy sector's commitment to the government's Essential Freshwater work programme and climate change goals, but told the MP's that water and greenhouse gases need to be dealt with as a package for farmers.
"Farmers are already managing their nitrogen, phosphorous, e-coli and sediment levels in order to improve water quality," he said.
"They need to be viewing greenhouse gases as a fifth contaminant to manage, rather than treating climate change as an additional issue," said Mr Moss
He told the committee that mitigations to address emissions tend to improve water quality by default, so farmers should first concentrate on lowering on-farm emissions as a package.
Golden Bay farmer Corrigan Sowman commented on the conversations occurring within the dairy sector on how to incorporate land use change within the sector.
"The dairy sector is looking at what our 50 year vision is for sustainable land use as part of our new sector strategy, so we need to ensure there is adequate support from government to help the sector transition towards alternative land uses," said Mr Sowman.
The farmers believe the final report of the Biological Emissions Reference Group, which has just been released , reinforces the need for skills based support to help farmers understand and identify what changes are suitable and possible for their individual farm in order to reduce emissions.
"We dairy farmers are used to change, and we are continually working to keep productivity high while making changes to how we farm that will reduce our environmental footprint," said Mr Sowman.
"After years of using the environment to meet our needs, we now need to modify our needs to meet environmental obligations," he said.
The Dairy Environment Leaders group comprises of 100 farmers.