Westland’s Farm Excellence roll-out close to 100%
The first stage of the roll-out of Westland Milk Products’ new Farm Excellence (FarmEx) programme has almost been
completed, with 97 percent of farms having had their first FarmEx assessment.
Launched in 2014, FarmEx works on the basic philosophy that what happens behind the farm gate impacts on Westland’s
ability to sell in a highly competitive marketplace. The programme sets high quality production, environmental, animal
welfare and sustainability standards for Westland’s shareholder suppliers.
The move has been welcomed by the Department of Conservation on the West Coast because of the positive environmental
spin-offs that the programme entails.
Chief Executive Rod Quin says FarmEx is primarily about future-proofing the dairy industry and Westland Milk Products’
ability to continue to sell into an increasingly demanding international market, where not only is food safety and
quality paramount, but also the story behind the milk.
“Customers increasingly want transparency, traceability and accountability in all areas,” Quin says.
“Naturally their focus is on food safety and the quality of our products, but they also want assurances on our
performance in such areas as environmental protection and sustainability, animal welfare, employment conditions and even
the aesthetic appearance of the farm property itself.”
One of the focus points for the initial roll-out of the programme has been the environment, Quin says. “Our staff have
been looking at such issues as weed control, fencing off of waterways, effluent disposal, fertiliser use, farm chemical
disposal and so on.”
The company has been working closely with the West Coast Regional Council and the Department of Conservation on the
environmental aspects of the FarmEx programme.
DOC Conservation Partnerships Director for the North and Western South Island Region, Jan Hania says, “Water quality is
a key foundation to environmental protection. Our native freshwater fish, birdlife, wetland and riverside vegetation and
our recreation enjoyment depend on it. The whitebait fishery is a good example of a resource that the community values
that thrives where there is good water quality. Whitebait are juvenile forms of various native fish that, as adults,
breed in local estuaries and rivers. Water quality and suitable waterside vegetation is essential to their breeding
success. This programme, successfully rolled out should see a large contribution to this.
“Everything Westland’s shareholders do on their properties to fence off waterways and manage nutrient flows not only
enhances their reputation as responsible and sustainable producers, it has a benefit for whitebait too. That’s good news
when you consider several of the fish that comprise whitebait are rare and threatened species. Of course other fish,
insects and birds, and recreational water users benefit from improved water quality too”.
Quin says that everybody benefits from the FarmEx standards, shareholders especially.
“In essence, FarmEx is designed to guarantee our suppliers’ right to continue to supply milk. It also has the goal of
maximising shareholder pay-out by supporting Westland’s move into nutritional products where the standards that need to
be met are higher, but the potential for improved returns is substantially better.”