Reporting and measuring environmental impacts of dairying: perceptions and practices (2021)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
The growing importance of environmental challenges, the majority of which are tied to businesses' continual use of resources, energy, and groundwater, as well as the buildup of environmental-related expenditures, mandates the use of Environmental Management Accounting (EMA). EMA, an extension of traditional management accounting, can be used to monitor and analyse expenditures, profits, and benefits connected to a company's environmental efforts. The objective of this research was to explore the perceptions of environmental impacts of dairying and the practices towards measuring and reporting these impacts.
The sample for this qualitative research study, selected by purposive sampling, comprised farmers, dairy company managers, an environmental regulator, an academic, and an environmental consultant. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data. The interviews were transcribed and analysed using a thematic data analysis technique.
The study found that people in dairying view environmental sustainability as carrying out their farming and milk processing and distribution as a method of feeding people now while sustaining the current environment so that future generations can enjoy the natural world as it is now. Furthermore, farmers and dairy processing firms recognise the need to alter their current practices in order to reduce the environmental damage they have produced. The findings reveal that dairy farmers and dairy companies in Canterbury use some EMA techniques, with the primary motivation being to comply with the Government's environmental regulations. Other factors that influence the application of EMA techniques are the possibility of high economic returns, support from farm owners, seeking to keep their good reputation, and self satisfaction.
However there are also hindrances to the implementation of EMA techniques. Compliance with environmental regulations is found to be both the main reason for EMA implementation and a hindrance for EMA adoption, because farmers do not understand why some regulations have been set, and how to comply with them. Also they feel that regulators are not in tune with the needs of farmers and the differences between farm conditions. Other barriers to implementing EMA techniques are a short term focus, problems with the information that they are currently managing to collect, organisational siloing, and difficulties in calculating environmental costs and determining the benefits of implementing EMA techniques.
The findings contribute to the current EMA literature by providing a better understanding of EMA in practice, and in a sector that has not been examined before, namely the dairy industry. The findings may also benefit New Zealand central and local government, and help them to develop their environmental strategies and improvement the current EMA techniques and measurements they are demanding of the dairy sector. Furthermore, this research may help regulators, educators and consultants find ways to educate farmers about the benefits of implementing EMA techniques so they can reduce their operational costs while preventing the negative environmental impacts of dairying.
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