Corporate dairy farmer Southern Pastures has signed a three-year $50 million sustainability-linked farm loan with BNZ.
In a report released recently by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), Southern Pastures was the only agricultural investment fund to be included in the annual Responsible Investment Benchmark Report New Zealand.
The fund owns 19 dairy farms in Waikato and Canterbury and is a 50% shareholder in Lewis Road Creamery.
“We’re absolutely convinced that dairy farming should be a force for environmental, not just economic, good,” said chairman Prem Maan.
“Our long-term objective is to achieve carbon-neutral dairy.”
Inclusion in the report means that Southern Pastures is seen to demonstrate a leading approach to responsible investment that is contributing to real world outcomes.
The company owns over 16,400 acres of farmland and produces milk under its own 10 Star Certified Values program, which was designed to meet its founders’ – including Maan and former All Black captain Graham Mourie – expectations of what ethical dairy farming should mean.
The independently audited standard covers grass-fed, free-range, climate-change mitigation, human welfare, animal welfare, and sustainability requirements. Southern Pastures does not, for example, permit phosphate from Western Sahara to be used on its farms or allow any of its cattle to be exported live.
“We’ve always had a cast-iron policy of not participating in the live export trade. We’re hopeful that the recent tragic loss of cattle and crew en route to China will force authorities to reconsider the policy that allows this to continue,” Mann says.
Southern Pastures’ milk produced under the 10 Star standard has been pivotal to the success of the Lewis Road Creamery grass-fed butter now sold by Whole Foods and other stores across the United States, and by Woolworths across Australia.
“When we started Southern Pastures ten years ago, our target was consumers wanting ‘values-for-money’,” Maan said. “We’re now at the point where the work that begins deep in the soil of our New Zealand farms is paying off on the shelf in overseas markets.”