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.
Rowarth is one of two new farmer-elected directors and former Wellington City councillor; Jo Coughlan took a board-appointed position.
Rowarth says she has also always been interested in recruitment and how the sector gets good people as it makes money for NZ, she told Dairy News.
“It is just ensuring that people understand the good work done by the farmers of NZ, including the dairy sector which frequently gets a bit of a bad rap,” she says.
She thinks the sectors should be working together to ensure all other countries understand our efficiency in producing food. “There are very few countries that can match our lack of subsidies and efficiency of production per unit of greenhouse gas, nitrogen loss and labour hours.”
NZ agriculture is leading our productivity data; without the primary sector we would look dismal, she says.
“I am really positive and excited about being in this role and being able to work on what is already good and make it great.”
Rowarth was the first chief scientist at the Environmental Protection Authority. Other roles she has held include professor of pastoral agriculture at Massey University and professor of agribusiness at Waikato University.
She has 35 years experience as a soil scientist, with a research focus on managing the productive environment (nutrients and greenhouse gases). In 2011 she invested in a family-run dairy farm in Tirau.
Speakers at the DairyNZ annual meeting in Invercargill said sustainable farm systems and the new strategy’s six commitments will be crucial for dairy’s success.
DairyNZ chairman Jim van der Poel said the Dairy Tomorrow strategy launched in 2017 is now central to the sector’s progress.
“It has six commitments: the environment, resilient businesses, producing high quality nutrition, animal care, great workplaces and growing vibrant communities,” said van der Poel.