As most of the processors in the Dairy Working Group are owned by farmers in a cooperative structure, we are also representing the interests of dairy farmers.
Hansel New is Director of Sustainability Programs at Dairy Farmers of America, one of the largest dairy companies in the world. He was previously Co-Chair of the Dairy Working Group with Klaas Jan van Calker.
***This interview is taken from the SAI Platform Annual Report 2021. To find out more about the Sustainable Dairy Partnership, go to the Annual Report 2021***
What have been the major achievements and issues for the Dairy Working Group, Hansel?
The progress we’ve made on the Sustainable Dairy Partnership (SDP) is a definite highlight. Many members of the Dairy Working Group worked on the SDP, which was heartening. It’s always good to see a broad level of member engagement and not just a few passionate members. Passion across the Dairy Working Group and engagement with key initiatives continue to be our key strengths.
This leads to better communications and an increase in collaboration, which means more work gets done and that helps spread the workload. We’ve been blessed in that respect.
How do you feel about the launch of the SDP Reporting Hub?
It all went pretty smoothly, considering that there were so many complex pieces to the project. I’m proud to report that we were on time and below budget. I’d attribute this to powerful collaboration and SAI Platform’s Dairy Director, Patricia Garcia Diaz’s strong project management.
What about benchmarking of national programmes through SDP national equivalency? What are your thoughts on this?
Here, our job is not to reinvent the wheel but to build on the good work that’s already being done with additional programmatic elements and a continuous improvement mindset. I thought the national benchmarking programme was a fine example of that approach. It also clearly demonstrated the value the SDP adds to reduce complexity and duplication of effort.
What’s it been like working with Klaas Jan van Calker?
It’s been a pleasure. He’s super-knowledgeable and has a lot of expertise. We’ve also seen eye to eye on our vision and how we want to help the Dairy Working Group during our Co-Chairship. We, at minimum, meet every other week through online meetings and collaborations and then we’ll frequently have email traffic back and forth if questions come up outside of that regular check-in period.
What do you feel you’ll have achieved before you step down as co-chair?
I think I’ve brought a spirit of collaboration to the group. At the end of the day, one of my primary roles has been to represent the processors in the group and our interests. And, as most of the processors in the Dairy Working Group are owned by farmers in a cooperative structure, that means also representing the interests of dairy farmers. I’m also trying to demonstrate leadership in a lot of our initiatives, especially with GHG emissions.
I think that legacy will continue on in years to come and also offer future opportunities for leadership for other members engaged with the Dairy Working Group.