Wednesday, 06 June 2018 12:55

No longer a ‘nice to have’

Written by 
Mike Petersen. Mike Petersen.

Farmers need to understand that good environmental stewardship is no longer just nice to have but is essential in today’s world.

This was the crux of a message to deer farmers attending the sector’s annual conference in Timaru last month.

Guy Salmon, chief executive of Ecologic Foundation, told the conference its new industry code of practice was “detailed, looked good and will drive learnings”.

However, he warned that any voluntary code of practice has major limitations.

Salmon says getting everyone in the industry up to standard will be a challenge and a major risk for an industry, such as the deer sector with a premium product.

“The fat tail of bad practice can damage your entire industry’s image, its reputation. The best way to deal with this fat tail is regulation, and you should welcome it.”

Salmon says farmers must understand that accountability – especially regarding the environment — is needed and expected to meet community-agreed objectives.

“Communities are setting contaminant limits in every catchment in New Zealand and industry codes of practices need transparent linkages to these limits.”

Salmon says community expectations needed more than just “good practice”.

“They need to challenge and implement transformational change of accepted practices.”

He cited intensive winter grazing as an example of current practice that would need to change.

Salmon warns that unless real change is made, NZ’s farming sector grassfed marketing story is at risk from a “ticking timebomb” in relation to market perception issues on water, soil, animal health and aesthetic issues.

And NZ’s special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen had a similar message.

He said there is a lot of discussion in agricultural and government sectors about environmental credentials and what this subject actually means.

Petersen says the farming leaders’ group of which the deer industry is a part of is an excellent example of cross-sector work in environmental matters.

“For too long, I have seen different parts of the sector arguing their own corner on an environmental front. In my view, it is far better to be a joined-up, clear voice for the sector,” he says. 

“The farming leaders’ groups allow us to have robust discussions behind closed doors and then speak with one voice to the Government and regulators to get the best outcome for the industry as a whole.”

Petersen told conference-goers the direction is clear regarding the environment and emissions, and “the farming sector needs to get on board and get on board in a big way”.

He concedes it will be “really tough” for the agricultural sector to reach net zero emissions.

“But the government has pledged to work with farmers and has given long transition times for us to meet this goal.” 

Petersen also believes that the direction of travel is clear.

“I don’t think even if there was a change of government that a new National government would not reverse any of this work. So, we need to get on the bus… every farm needs an environmental plan.”

Petersen believes that in time such plans will also address animal welfare, traceability and environmental procedures. “I believe we will need this type of plan as evidence of the integrity of what we do for the story that NZ needs to promote. We cannot have a story without the evidence and the background to support the claims we make.”

Petersen says this will allow NZ farmers to differentiate their products and face down the challenges the industry faces in the future – such as alternative proteins and consumer demands for ethical products.

More like this

A minister for Europe?

Jacinda Ardern should consider basing one of her senior cabinet ministers in Europe by early next year, says trade commentator Mike Petersen.

Drought impact to continue

There is not going to be any significant feed grown in Hawkes Bay until spring, according to former special agriculture trade envoy Mike Petersen.

Joining commodity producers online

The time is right for new initiatives in providing greater business-to-business engagement through the use of a digital marketplace, says Mike Petersen.


Merlo goes greener

Obviously not wishing to get left behind by some of its competitors, Italian manufacturer Merlo is planning to add to its green-liveried telehandler range- with another set of green credentials in the shape of an all-new, all-electric battery-powered Merlo e-Worker model.


Growing a family legacy

What started with planting some acacia trees 25 years ago has become a multi-generational passion for the Hunt family in Te Awamutu.

Moves to improve winter grazing requirements

DairyNZ says it supports recommendations to the Government from an advisory group looking to improve winter grazing rules for farmers and achieve better environmental outcomes.


Machinery & Products

Good growth year for Claas

While many sectors of the agricultural machinery were hit by the ravages of Covid-19, the effects of the pandemic did…

Green machine frugal on fuel

According to the industry respected independent DLG PowerMix test, John Deere appears to be the best choice of tractor for…

App takes pressure off

TRS Tyre & Wheel, owned by Trelleborg Wheel Systems, has introduced the TLC Plus App to the New Zealand market.

New MF 5S series arrives

Just before Christmas, Massey Ferguson quietly released details of the successor to its popular MF 5700S range in the shape…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound


Your old mate reckons the nomination of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) management team as a finalists in…

Good riddance!

The Hound reckons 2021 is off to a rollicking start with news that professional whinger and anti-farming drone Martin Taylor…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter