Milking overseas to save our hides

NEW ZEALAND - Eric Hillerton admits the idea of New Zealand farmers producing extra milk overseas to help industry growth - without increasing pressure on the local environment - may be difficult for Kiwis to swallow.
calendar icon 4 December 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
But the floating of the idea during an interview indicates how the Scotsman believes the industry needs to start thinking outside the square more to achieve its goals.

Hillerton's recent appointment as research general manager at key industry organisation Dexcel puts him in the middle of the internationally recognised dairy research expertise in Hamilton.

Providers in the city took in more than 70 per cent - some $19.6 million - of the dairy research money allotted by farmer-funded Dairy InSight last year. Besides Dexcel, AgResearch, LIC, Waikato University and Innovation Waikato are all significant contributors to dairy sector research.

The importance of Dexcel's role is part of what gives Hillerton a buzz in his job. With dairy products being our single biggest category of exports, the success of the research projects under way - and those to come - is crucial to the wider health of the economy.

The dairy industry is reviewing farmer-levy-funded R&D after a failure to achieve targeted productivity gains.

Hillerton said one way to grow New Zealand dairying without damaging the environment would be to do more farming overseas.

However, he believed he would have a major problem if he told local farmers he wanted to use their money to do research on setting up in, say, China. "They would not be amused I was spending dairy-industry-good money on that at present."

Source: New Zealand Herald
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