Australian dairy reaffirms its environment commitment
Environmental impact of the nation’s rural food industries is becoming increasingly important to consumers.
A recent survey by the Community Trust in Rural Industries Program uncovered that 87% of Australians trust rural food industries, and that environmental responsibility is a key driver and therefore fundamental in strengthening relationships between industries like the dairy industry, and the wider community.
The Community Trust in Rural Industries Program was created in partnership between the dairy industry and other rural industries across fishing, farming and forestry, to develop a pathway to proactive, transparent, long-term engagement with the community via a three-year research project into community trust in agriculture and the environment.
The findings from the first year of research has revealed that 86% agreed that environmental management is a shared responsibility across all Australian rural industries.
The Australian dairy industry remains committed to reducing its environmental impact, along with its other sustainability commitments around providing best care for all its animals, improving the health and nutrition of people and enhancing the welfare of all its workers, including farmers. The Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework, established in 2012, sets out these commitments and aligned goals and targets that underpin the industry’s promise to provide nutritious food for a healthier world.
Looking at the industry’s progress on environmental sustainability, reductions have been made in greenhouse gas emissions and waste to landfill from manufacturing, and more farmers are managing land for conservation and biodiversity. The Framework was updated in 2019 with all goals and targets now having a 2030 time horizon. The industry’s commitment to transparency is achieved through annual reporting of its progress against all goals, including its pursuit to protect the environment for a sustainable future.
Trust in the Australian dairy industry is rising and according to new research from Dairy Australia, close to two-thirds of highly engaged Australians (64%) agree that the dairy industry does a good job of caring for the environment – a 14% increase since the middle of this year. However, despite consumers having a growing level of trust in the dairy industry since 2018 - at 74% in 2020 – interest in how their food is produced and the impact on the environment continue to be front of mind.
Dairy’s environmental commitments reaffirms the industry’s desire to meet the challenge of climate change and provide good stewardship of the nation’s natural resources. Like other agricultural industries, dairy is dependent on natural resources, and climate change presents a sustainability risk for the industry. As such the Australian dairy industry is targeting a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 2030.
The industry has aligned on several goals that help guide the direction of the industry’s efforts to reduce their environmental footprint and has developed a range of initiatives to support driving this change. Announcing these goals reconfirms the industries commitment and acknowledges it’s got work to do and is open to making changes for the better.
The four goals identified to reduce environmental impact include:
- Improving land management: by protecting water ways; implementing nutrient, soil, plant and animal biodiversity action plans; and committing to net zero deforestation;
- Increasing water use efficiency: by improving water productivity; active monitoring of water consumption; using recycled water; and developing water security management plans;
- Reducing greenhouse emissions by 30%: across farms and manufacturing sectors by 2030;
- Reducing waste: by implementing 100% recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging by 2025; diverting waste from landfill; 100% of silage wrap being recycled; and halving overall food waste by 2030.
Chris Griffin, Chair of the Sustainability Steering Committee said of the industry’s progress: “We know action speaks more than words, so we want to be transparent with the Australian community to showcase how the dairy industry is tracking against these goals, where we need to do more and reaffirm our commitment to supporting the dairy farmers and producers of today and future generations.”
Dairy Australia plays a pivotal role in implementing the dairy industry’s Sustainability Framework. As one of the leading voices of the industry, Dairy Australia is committed to supporting the industry in driving initiatives with farmers, manufacturers, and consumers to create a better future for our communities.
For more information on the Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework and the industry’s environmental goals and targets head to www.sustainabledairyoz.com.au.
For more information on Dairy Australia’s environment initiatives head to www.dairy.com.au/environment.