Take action for our future

Take action Support the transition away from industrial dairy farming
Done with Dairy

Call on our Government to step up

We are calling on Government to create a clear plan of action which will support New Zealand farmers out of industrial dairy farming.

Governments around the world are taking action to address the destruction of industrial dairy farming. We must hold our leaders accountable for failing to do the same.  By demanding meaningful change from our Government, we can ensure a sustainable future for farmers that nurtures our animals and our natural world.

For the sake of our animals, our health and the integrity of our land, New Zealand needs to cultivate a more sustainable future that works with nature, not against it. 



Dairy is not our future

Recently, the Netherlands announced plans to assist their farmers and reduce the impact of animal agriculture. Farmers will have access to a buy-out scheme to support them in transitioning to more sustainable farming systems. We need our Government to act now, before it's too late.

Aotearoa needs to embrace a future where our primary industries do not depend on the exploitation of our animals and our environment. Farmers need support from our Government to transition away from intensive animal agriculture towards farming systems that better align with our values as an ethical, sustainable and forward-thinking nation. Urge our Government to create a clear plan of action that will support Kiwi farmers out of industrial dairy farming.

Help us build a better future

Urge the Government to create a plan of action.

You can forward the pre-written letter below or draft your own using the key points at the bottom of this page. We encourage you to personalise your letter as much as possible.

This email will be sent directly to Rt Hon Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, Minister of Energy and Resources Hon Dr Megan Woods, Minister for the Environment Hon David Parker, Minister of Conservation Hon Willow-Jean Prime, Minister of Climate Change Hon James Shaw and Minister of Agriculture Hon Damien O’Connor. You will also receive a copy for your records. Emails are public information ‒ if you would like any of your information withheld, please state this in your email.


MILKED is available now to view for free. This feature documentary exposes the white lies we’ve been told about milk and the alarming impacts of the dairy industry on our environment, our health, on Kiwi farmers and on animals. An impactful global story told with a local eye, the film also points to what Aotearoa and other countries can do to change their fate.

Why does New Zealand need to distance itself from the dairy industry?  

For the animals

Animal cruelty is built into the dairy farming system. Cows must give birth to produce milk, and so are forcibly impregnated; after a nine-month pregnancy, calves are separated from their mothers within days of birth. The dairy industry breaks this maternal bond again and again so it can collect and sell the mother’s milk. Farmers must routinely send trucks of surplus “bobby” calves and “spent” mother cows to slaughterhouses, an emotionally taxing job for farmers that brings certain death and suffering for the animals. Can Aotearoa keep its reputation as an ethical food producer if cruelty is a defining feature of our food production? 

  • In 2021, nearly 2 million bobby calves were killed within a week of being born. 
  • In 2021, more than 4 million cattle (dairy and beef) were slaughtered in New Zealand. 
  • Cows are curious and sensitive beings who naturally live in small herds, form strong bonds with one another and develop a social hierarchy. 
  • Due to selective breeding, milk production per cow has more than doubled in the last 40 years, pushing animals to their limits and requiring large amounts of antibiotics. 

To protect our water

Our waterways are struggling, with industrial dairy farming taking more from our waterways than any other sector. Our lowered water levels are prone to pollution as dairy farm run-off and nitrogen leaching upsets the ecological balance of streams, rivers and lakes. This results in unsafe drinking water, water unsafe for swimming and waterways unable to support freshwater species and those that rely on them. 

  • The dairy industry uses over 13 billion litres of water per year. That’s eleven times our entire yearly domestic water use. 
  • Since 1990, the amount of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser applied to soils in Aotearoa has increased over 600%. 
  • 82% of waterways in farming areas are unfit for swimming.
  • Up to 800,000 New Zealanders may have increased bowel cancer risk due to nitrates in water. 
  • 76% of native freshwater fish are now threatened by, or at risk of extinction. 

To reduce our impacts on climate change  

Avoiding the worst impacts of climate change may be possible if we reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions. These are the two main gases produced by dairy cows through their effluent and the high use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser. These gases are stronger than CO2 and have a shorter lifespan in our atmosphere, meaning a reduction of these gases will help slow down climate change even faster than a reduction of CO2. There’s growing pressure for businesses and Governments to act on climate change – Aotearoa should lead this fight and act early to avoid being left behind. 

  • The dairy sector creates more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than our entire transport sector. 
  • The dairy industry’s total emissions have risen by 132% in the last 30 years.
  • Per capita, New Zealand is one of the highest methane emitters in the world.
  • New Zealand produces more GHG emissions than the whole of Sweden, a country with twice the population of Aotearoa.
  • The dairy industry burns around 500,000 tonnes of coal per year to produce milk powder.

To adapt to market changes 

Kiwi farmers are facing massive amount of debt, increased social pressure to improve conditions and a lack of industry support and leadership. The most disruptive shift in food production systems in the past 10,000 years is on our doorstep. In the next decade, animal-free dairy proteins produced through precision fermentation are likely to disrupt the dairy market, putting dairy farmers all over the world out of work. With dire predictions being made for US dairy farmers, New Zealand should be preparing for the market to change, to support farmers and to transition our economy away from its reliance on this volatile, unsustainable industry. 

  • New Zealand dairy farms are currently more than $40 billion in debt.
  • Financial pressures already constrain the ability of farms to adapt to increased environmental regulations.
  • 62% of farmers said they, or someone on their farm, had experienced mental health issues in the past 12 months.
  • Animal-free dairy protein alternatives will be:
    • Up to 100 times more land efficient
    • 10 to 25 times more feedstock efficient
    • 20 times more time efficient
    • 10 times more water efficient

For our health 

The dairy industry has influenced our Government’s dietary guidelines, which impacts information shared in schools, hospitals and our homes. But there is a growing body of evidence linking dairy consumption to many of our most chronic diseases, such as cancers, heart disease and diabetes. Our healthcare system is struggling and inundated with dietary/lifestyle related illnesses which could be alleviated by changing our dietary guidelines to reflect our modern knowledge of the negative impacts of dairy consumption. 

  • Dairy consumption is associated with an increased risk of cancers, especially prostate cancer and breast cancer.
  • Women who drank 2 to 3 cups of cow’s milk per day were associated with an 80% increased chance of breast cancer. 
  • Dairy is the highest source of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol in our diets, both of which are associated with diabetes and heart disease. 
  • Māori and Pasifika have a higher prevalence of lactose intolerance, and suffer disproportionately from cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Done with Dairy

Take action

To safeguard our animals, our environment and our future, we must transition away from industrial dairy farming.

Try plant-based!

Eat with kindness

Get ready to be inspired by how enjoyable, easy and delicious it can be to live in a way that is kinder to our planet and all who live on it.

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As a charity, SAFE is reliant on the support of caring people like you to carry out our valuable work. Every gift goes towards providing education, undertaking research and campaigning for the benefit of all animals. SAFE is a registered charity in New Zealand (CC 40428). Contributions of $5 or more are tax-deductible.