Tuesday, 15 June 2021 10:55

Back-up the bus!

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
South Auckland farmer Wendy Clark (left) makes a point to Beef + Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor at the roadshow last week. South Auckland farmer Wendy Clark (left) makes a point to Beef + Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor at the roadshow last week.

Work together and stop throwing each other under the bus.

That's the message farmers delivered last week to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) at its first roadshow meeting in Glen Murray, Waikato.

About 35 farmers heard BLNZ chief executive Sam McIvor and director Martin Coup outline work being done by BLNZ on their behalf.

However, former Federated Farmers Auckland president Wendy Clark told the meeting that "there was a lot of throwing under the bus" during the Plan Change 1 consultation process.

Plan Change 1, introduced by Waikato Regional Council, is about reducing the amount of contaminants entering the Waikato and Waipā catchments.

"It doesn't help anyone when one part of our industry throws another part under the bus," Clark told the meeting. "I get thrown under the bus every time because I pay three levies: dairy levy, beef levy and the Federated Farmers levy."

Clark called on farmer organisations to work together.

"We want you to work together," she says.

Another farmer Bruce Cameron wanted to know why BLNZ was still pursuing Land Use Capabilities (LUC), which he said provided one group of farmers an advantage over another group.

McIvor said he heard the message to work together "loud and clear".

He told the meeting that BLNZ was working with DairyNZ and Federated Farmers to find methods that will work for all farmers.

McIvor later told Rural News that farmers invest money in a variety of places - life BLNZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers.

"One of the clear messages that came out is that they want us to work together. Certainly, they want us to represent them but want us to work together with other organisations across the industry, and that's the commitment that BLNZ has given."

McIvor says apart from working with DairyNZ, Feds and Deer NZ in the first instance, the Farming Leaders Group has also proven to be effective.

The group is made up of chief executives of industry organisations, representing horticulture, wine, forestry, irrigators, dairy companies and the Meat Industry Association.

McIvor claims that by working together, this group can have more influence.

"All these voices saying the same thing - that's more powerful that one voice," he says. "It also allows consistency of voices also allows consistency of voices across the board and that we use our limited resources and limited funds as best as we can by working with others."

McIvor points out that over the last 10 years more than 70% of BLNZ's work has been done jointly with DairyNZ and Feds - such as R&D, training, advocacy, extension work and policy work.

However, he admits that what the organisations haven't done well is communicating to farmers what was going on behind the scenes.

With farmers pressuring their industry-good organisations to work together, there is "added impetus" around that now.

"We have farmers saying that we have been on different tracks from each other on some key issues; they want us to sit and work out a joint way forward."

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