Being classed an essential business is a privilege – do not abuse that privilege, says Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers national dairy spokesman.
Knowledge transfer is vital for the success of NZ farming.
It is always pleasing to note that our industry organisations such as Beef+LambNZ and DairyNZ in particular organise regular field days and discussion groups.
These semi-formal events give farmers the opportunity to see what others in their district are doing and help spark thoughts that may lead to innovation or better practice. These events also give farmers the opportunity to bench-mark themselves against their peers.
We also see this with a host of other field days and conferences organised by the likes of Massey University and the Ahuwhenua Trust which promotes excellence in Maori agriculture and horticulture.
But its A&P shows and field days, such as those run in the central North Island, that provide for the more informal contact with farmers. A chance to catch up with old mates, be it from university days or the when they were part of a shearing gang trying make a few extra dollars to buy that farm or some special piece of equipment.
I am a great believer in the value of such field days – including the big one at Mystery Creek – because they provide dozens of networking opportunities for farmers. They can have some special time with their bank manager or financial advisor, see the latest in farm machinery and talk to local councils about upcoming environmental rules.
The Central Districts Field Days is a classic example of that.
For a start, it draws on people who live within about a two-hour drive of Feilding – where the event is staged – and therefore it is not a mission to get there. The event continues to promote agritech and that is good because the solutions to many of the challenges that farmers face are likely to be solved by technology.
This event is a chance to see some of these solutions.
While farmers are at the core of the rural sector, there are thousands of others whose livelihood depends on the profitability and viability of the farming sector. People involved in providing services directly to farmers and others seemingly less direct, but equally important such as the local shops.
Field days offers opportunities for everyone to learn more about what is going in the wider rural sector and I congratulate all those who run such events.
• The Hon Damien O’Connor is Minister of Agriculture and Rural Communities