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Episode 24: Clean Dairying

Mike Moss and Madeline Rix-Trott on their farm. Photo by Kerryanne Evans.

Madeline Rix-Trott and Mike Moss among their organic dairy cattle. Photo by Armie Armstrong.

On the next episode, screening 24 July at 7pm on TV ONE:

Clean Dairying

Mike Moss is doing his bit to deliver on New Zealand's image as a 100 per cent pure food producer.

The 49-year-old farmer from the Waitetuna Valley near Raglan is producing some of the world's most sought after milk on his fully certified organic dairy unit in the Waikato.

Mike and his fiancee Madeline Rix-Trott milk 140 organic dairy cows twice a day - dairy company Fonterra takes virtually every drop to satisfy growing demand from consumers in Asia and the United States.

Mike says New Zealand has the potential to become the healthy food basket of the world.

"We should capitalise on our ability to produce a fantastic organic product from healthy cows that live in one of the cleanest environments on the planet," he says.

And he's setting out to do just that - his two-year-old heifers, which will join the milking herd after calving this spring, have never been given a drug or a drench.

Mike's dairy unit has been organically certified for eight years and he's close to achieving full certification for the rest of his property.

Organic principles are applied to every aspect of farm management and Mike says the "simpler approach" has taken a lot of stress out of his life.

Mike Moss is Waikato born and bred and has been a farmer all his life. For many years he followed conventional practices, but decided to change direction just over a decade ago.

"The farm was under pressure, the stock was under pressure and I was under pressure. It wasn't that profitable and I wasn't enjoying it."

Converting to organics has brought financial rewards and restored Mike's enthusiasm for farming.

While organics is often described as a new approach, Mike wonders if valuable knowledge about natural farming techniques is going to the grave with the older generation of New Zealand farmers.

"We need to trust our senses and not always rely on science to tell us how to farm," he says. Before the Second World War, most people farmed pretty naturally and organically. We don't want to lose that knowledge."

Mike and Madeline also enjoy welcoming friends and family to their property and giving them a taste of farm life.

Mike firmly believes the family farm is a viable proposition and can remain part of New Zealand's farming future.

"The small unit can still be productive and profitable and we should try to hold onto it."

- More about Mike's organic farming.