Jim Beg, director general of industry body Dairy UK, stressed the importance for producers in meeting changing legislation and consumer demands on environmental impacts, even if it comes at their own expense. "Clearly society's expectation of what is an acceptable environmental impact from any industry is changing and we must respond," he stated, before the opening of the "What lies ahead" Dairy Farming and Environment conference. "We must actively engage on this agenda, which we are doing on the farming and processing sides of the industry." Whilst praising the UK's efforts already taken in working towards environmentally conscious practices, Beg believes that the national desire for greener industry is a mixed blessing for dairy companies. "This is a good thing, potentially, because it puts us ahead of the field," he stated. "But it also thrusts an enormous responsibility on us to ensure that policy is driven by robust science and a full understanding of cause and effect." Only in meeting these aims, Beg conceded, would the industry be confident that its practices were not being detrimental to environmental concerns. In a possible warning to the industry, he added that the green issue would possibly require increased "The greater the profile that this issue attains, the more important it is that the science is beyond challenge," stated Beg. "We must also bear in mind that increasing regulation can impose additional costs which can create competitive disadvantages." Key examples of the changes that dairy producers will have to face include upcoming amendments to the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone. These amendments will be directed at reducing the levels of nitrate within water and soil. To prepare for this, Dairy UK has already hired consultancy group to assess the impact on the industry. When the findings are completed, Beg added that he hoped the government would fully support the industry in any amendments to proposals.