Progress and challenges revealed by dairy’s 2015 Sustainability Report

Mar 11, 2016

There is a rising demand worldwide for companies and industries to meet the needs of people today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Australia’s dairy farmers and manufacturers are proud to be part of a global movement which aspires to meet this demand, whatever understanding people have of sustainability.

One of the ways we demonstrate our whole-of-industry commitment to increasing prosperity for industry and communities, our care for people and animals, and minimising our environmental footprint is through the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework.

Established in 2012 to help guide Australian improvement against 11 targets and 41 performance measures the Framework is lead by the Australian Dairy Industry Council, managed by an industry Steering Committee, and supported by Dairy Australia.

Our 2015 Progress Report shows our improvement, but also our challenges. During 2015 there were several areas of improvement including:

  • The industry’s efforts in helping the Government to secure Free Trade Agreements with China, Japan and Korea, will help increase our competitiveness and profitability;
  • The intensity of waste sent to landfill by manufacturers, which has dropped 46% since 2011, exceeding the target for 2020 several years ahead of schedule;
  • The proportion of farmers with nutrient management plans, which at 58% is on-track to achieve the 2020 target of 80%, having almost doubled since 2013; and
  • The reduction in the use of routine calving induction - 88% of farmers do not use it compared to 80% in 2014.

Although we made good progress against some targets, there are others where more progress is needed, such as increasing the proportion of dairy farmers who are aware of, and implement, the recently agreed (January 2016) standards and guidelines for animal welfare. Currently, awareness stands at 56% and our target for 2020 is 100%.

There are other areas where the industry’s performance has declined, such as the proportion of people who recognise dairy as a quality product, which slipped to 69% from a baseline of 72% (the 2020 target is 80%).

To ensure our industry remains current, relevant and accountable in the context of changing global and domestic conditions and expectations, a review of all the targets, indicators and performance measures in the Framework will be undertaken during 2016.

The review will take into consideration a broad range of emerging issues, stakeholder views, industry priorities, political agendas and global trends.

The ADIC is excited to share our progress thus far – it demonstrates just how powerful dairy can be when the whole supply chain works together toward its common goals.

We encourage you to take the time to have a look at the key areas that interest you in the online report and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

A snapshot of the Australia dairy industry and our sustainability progress...

Climate variability drives on farm innovation

Nov 23, 2015

A concerted effort to reduce power costs and dairy’s environmental footprint is seeing increasing numbers of Australian producers implement more efficient, ‘green’ on farm practices.

In Athlone, Gippsland former mechanical engineer and seventh generation dairy farmer, Lindsay Anderson is harnessing solar energy to the benefit of reduced on-farm costs. Converting all his large single-phase motors to three-phase motors using variable speed drives as phase converters, Mr Anderson has implemented renewable technology throughout his business. He devised a 5 kilo-watt grid-connected solar system which supplies power to his automatic milking system, his workshop and farm house.

This system provides enough power to feedback through the grid for a payment each quarter – providing some additional income for Mr Anderson.

“This system can save me between 15 to 33% of electricity consumption,” Mr Anderson said. 

It also means there is even less diesel used on the property so the environment will also be better off.

According to dairy’s 2014 Sustainability Framework Progress Report, Mr Anderson is one of many dairy farmers adopting energy efficient procedures on farm. Since 2012 40% of farms have installed some form of renewable energy installation.

Chair of the Sustainability Framework Steering Committee, Chris Griffin said that dairy producers have always been stewards of the land, and are constantly getting smarter about energy efficiency on farm.

“Dairy farmers have a real commitment to managing land and water responsibly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting natural resources for future generations. They are constantly reviewing their practices in response to seasonal conditions and a changing climate,” said Mr Griffin.

“As a bonus, many farmers are finding that these measures are cost effective.”

Working with Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) and Dairy Australia, the ADIC has lobbied hard to secure Government funding to support uptake of energy efficient technology on farm. Combined with industry investment, Federal and state programs have assisted farmers and manufacturers with the upfront capital costs in energy efficient or renewable energy technology, and therefore increased uptake.

The dairy industry has seen the benefit of such co-funded initiatives through Dairy Australia and the Federal Government’s Energy Efficiency Information Program. These nationwide assessments have already helped 1,400 farms. Guidelines have also been developed to complement these assessments and provide information about where energy is used in dairies, as well as identify where greater efficiency can be found.

In two years since the Sustainability Framework was implemented, manufacturers’ use of fuel and electricity has reduced by 14.5%. Together, the whole value chain is vigorously pursuing its target of reducing the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020.

“We will continue with programs and projects that are guiding the industry toward improved returns, while minimising our environmental footprint and improving the wellbeing of our people and animals,” Mr Griffin explained.

“There is still work to be done, but we are most definitely headed in the right direction.”

Earlier this year, ADF shifted its climate change policy, calling for joint industry and government investment in adopting energy efficient technologies on farm. Chair of the ADF Natural Resources Policy Advisory Group, Daryl Hoey said the revised policy highlights to Parliament, consumers and the broader community that the industry remains actively engaged in reducing its environmental impact.

“The scientific evidence, international policy, and public interest in increased climate variability justify industry action. Our whole value chain strives to continually reduce its environmental footprint, through uptake of new technologies, improved management and adoption of farming systems to suit climate variability,”

“The Australian Government can promote the industry’s effective response to climate variability through sustained investment in agriculture R, D&E and the uptake of energy efficient technologies on farm.”

This includes new solutions that both reduce emissions and improve profitability, international research collaboration, and methodologies that support a whole-farm-systems approach in reducing emissions.

“The Australian dairy industry is keenly observing the Government’s response to the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference taking place in Paris this December,” Mr Hoey said.

“We are aware the outcomes of this event may impact the Australian Government’s approach to emissions reduction policy. We want to ensure any policy initiatives do not undermine our trade exposed industry, but instead support dairy farmers’ ability to manage risk, innovate and adapt to climate variability.”

For more information on ADF's policy on carbon emissions and climate change click here

Our post-2020 greenhouse gas emissions target

May 07, 2015

In advance of the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Paris between 30 November and 11 December 2015, Australian dairy has made its voice heard in Australia’s contribution to the new global climate agreement which will set the emissions reduction target beyond 2020.

Through an Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) submission made to Government in April, we are advocating for emissions reduction policies which will support the industry - not hinder it. In particular, we are seeking policies that are:

  • Aligned with our major international competitors;
  • Recognised as an emissions intensity approach that allows dairy to continue to grow while reducing its carbon footprint; and
  • Underpinned by Government policy and actions to promote and support the dairy industry’s contribution towards greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

Our submission advocated for two key areas of Government support: investment in research, development and extension for on-farm emissions reduction; and support for energy productivity and efficiency. These policy settings are essential to ensuring Australian dairy remains competitive in the international market, our emissions intensity is reduced and we are well aligned for growth.

The ADIC attended a roundtable meeting with the Minister in early May and will continue to seek Government support through Australia’s international commitment to help drive innovation and reduce emissions, while also increasing productivity and profitability.

To read the ADIC’s submission on Australia’s Post-2020 Emissions Target Reduction, click here.

 

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