A recent field day at the Waikeria Prison Farm near Te Awamutu offered farmers the chance to see what goes on “behind the wire”, alongside introducing the idea of farmers employing offenders near the end or after the term of their sentences.
He told the DairyNZ annual meeting in Ashburton last week that it will work pragmatically with incoming Government on issues affecting farmers.
“A key part of our strategy is to shape a better future for our sector and a constructive relationship with the Government is essential to that strategy,” he says.
“We have called them out from time to time, as you know, when we felt we needed to…such as on some of their water reforms and winter grazing rules.
“But our preference is to always try and work constructively with them and try and get best outcomes for our farmers.Because we believe at the end of the day that’s what delivers the best results.”
Van der Poel says it doesn’t mean DairyNZ always gets what it wants, but such an approach delivers better outcomes “than say, the alternative ways”.
He says DairyNZ has developed a good relationship with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her key ministers.
While DairyNZ doesn’t agree with all their policies, there are robust discussions with them over some of the decisions they make or want to make.
He says the decision to engage with them is paying off.
Van der Poel says decisions are made in Wellington based on “their views of the world or regions”.
DairyNZ’s job is to try and inform them through discussions and get better outcomes for farmers.
He says DairyNZ’s focus this term will be to work closely with the new government “so that policies are based on good science and evidence and gives time to our farmers to make appropriate changes where required”.
Van der Poel described DairyNZ’s financial year ending May 31 as a busy and challenging one.
He says Covid was one of those major unanticipated events that affected everyone here and abroad.
But it helped create an opportunity to highlight the value and importance of the dairy sector to NZ, he adds.
Van der Poel and Dairy Holdings Ltd chief executive Colin Glass were re-elected to the board for another three-year term.