NZ Super Fund position on animal welfare and winter grazing
Posted On: Saturday, 7 September 2019

The NZ Super Fund takes its responsibilities as guardians of the land very seriously.

Our land is managed by farm investment managers FarmRight and is governed by a Responsible Farming Policy that includes specific provisions and procedures on environmental management, sustainability and animal welfare.

Animal welfare

As a long-term responsible investor, we expect our farms to meet best and market leading standards. We're aware of video that shows inappropriate handling of stock on one of our farms. This is below the standard expected by the Super Fund and FarmRight, and does not reflect how staff are trained to manage stock.

Upon being made aware of the footage, FarmRight immediately commenced an investigation with the contractor involved and proactively provided the video to the MPI/DairyNZ’s team responsible for animal welfare issues for its consideration. The contractor commenced an employment investigation with the individual concerned.

In addition, the Super Fund engaged an independent veterinarian to review the specific incidence and our broader on-farm practices. MPI/DairyNZ has decided no further action is required at this stage and will be provided with the veterinarian’s review.

FarmRight has reiterated the importance of humane handling procedures to its on-farm managers and instigated several actions to ensure this does not happen again.

Position on winter cropping

Winter crop grazing is an important practice that allows us to manage stock, within an overall environmental envelope.

All NZ Super Fund farms meet or exceed industry and/or regulatory standards, are subject to Farm Environment Plans and nutrient budgets that govern how winter crop grazing impacts on the environment. These plans take a whole-of-farm and year-long view to ensure they are managed in an environmentally acceptable manner.

We worked closely with Environment Southland to design drainage, riparian planting and silt traps on our farms to minimise erosion, silting, sediment management and nutrient runoff, and we are looking at what other design and management features can be introduced to further enhance environmental protections.

It is our belief that Super Fund farms are amongst the best run and provide an example for others to follow. As such we support the announcement that a taskforce has been established to look into winter crop grazing and have offered to host it on any of our farms to discuss positive solutions for the wider industry.

NZ Super Fund rural investments

The NZ Super Fund owns a portfolio of approximately $450m of New Zealand rural land, including 26 farms. This comprises approximately $340m in dairy farms, with Southland dairy making up approximately 45% of the total portfolio.

It's important to remember all returns from the farms go into supporting New Zealand’s future superannuation payments.

Since establishing the portfolio in 2012, we have invested approximately $17 million into the infrastructure on our rural properties to make them as productive and environmentally sustainable as possible. Click here to read about the open day we had on our 1222 hectare Kaiwera station where Environment Southland shared knowledge with other farmers about best-practice farm management.

Our farms employ approximately 95 people and are heavily involved in their respective local communities. They make significant contributions to the local and national economy. At the same time, our farms are designed to meet best-practice standards to reduce their impact on the environment. For instance, all waterways on our farms are protected and have been for some time. Stock cannot access rivers and streams.

We will continue to look for ways to improve the design and management of our farms so they can continue to sustainably contribute to New Zealand’s wellbeing.