Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard is well used to representing New Zealand’s farmers. On top of that, he’ll now be representing dairy farmers from all corners of the planet on the board of the International Dairy Federation.
The Manawatu dairy farmer gets up at 4.30am to milk his herd but at least once or twice a month it’s going to be midnight or 1am starts as he joins on-line northern hemisphere meetings.
The IDF is the only organisation which represents the entire dairy value chain at global level – from farm gate to retailer fridge. Hundreds of millions of people depend on the dairy sector for their livelihoods as farmers, processors, suppliers or traders and every day billions of people consume protein, calcium and other key nutrients from milk and dairy products.
The IDF works to support development of robust, science and evidence-based international standards for dairy products, as well as extending global sector knowledge through its unique network of experts and research on topics such as sustainability and nutrition that can be shared with member nations – and particularly developing nations.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning (NZ time), representatives of more than 40 dairy producing countries, representing over 75% of global milk production, at the IDF General Assembly elected new and returning representatives to the IDF board and committees. Andrew was elected as the sole farmer representative on the governing board.
He’s not new to the set-up. Andrew has been on animal health, farm management and environment standing committees and has just finished his second two-year stint on the IDF’s Scientific Programme Co-ordination Committee. That’s the body that decides which of scores of potential work streams covering everything from research to nutrition, processing, marketing and more should be the priority for IDF resources.
In an least one respect, Andrew says he’ll be pushing the same principle he’s used to arguing on behalf of farmers across the sectors in New Zealand: that policies, regulations and proposals need to pass the SPA test: is it sensible; it is practical, is it affordable?
“An emerging opportunity for the IDF is the United Nations food systems dialogue. It’s a focus of NGOs and other bodies and individuals all around the world, not just in New Zealand, to try and describe what a sustainable food system looks like,” Andrew says.
“This dialogue is the opportunity to move beyond the sometimes emotive views gaining traction on how we should farm, and what we should produce, to ensure it is grounded in science, is practical, and rational in terms of the global challenge to ensure nutritionally adequate diets while also maintaining sufficient food production for future generations.
“My aim is to make sure the farmer voice and knowledge base is heard loud and clear among the other voices.”