Funding is about to end for Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s red meat sector Action Groups, prompting a review of the programme’s future.
The Action Groups programme was developed as part of the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) seven-year Primary Growth Partnership Programme, which worked as part of a nationwide industry-led drive to help the red meat sector increase productivity and profitability.
It was also a key tool to support farmers in making changes to farm systems in line with pending environmental and other regulatory demands.
When the RMPP programme wrapped up in March 2021, BLNZ adopted the Action Group model and provided kick-start funding with an annual payment of $2000 per group starting in April 2021.
This funding comes to a close at the end of September.
There are currently about 100 active groups, made up of eight to 10 farmers, throughout NZ, with about half of those supported by BLNZ.
BLNZ national extension programme manager Olivia Weatherburn said a review of the programme will take place over the coming months to help determine the best way to provide support to the groups going forward.
“We’ll be reaching out to gather feedback, insights and ideas, particularly from the current active groups.
“This will also include exploring potential options for future extension delivery.”
Weatherburn is encouraging Action Groups throughout the country to continue their positive work, despite the funding coming to an end on September 30.
Last year, BLNZ reached out to group leaders across the country to gain insights into their groups’ accomplishments and the challenges they faced.
“Remarkably, 90% of the groups had successfully achieved the goals they set out to accomplish,” Weatherburn said.
She said the Action Groups are of significant value for farmers, being a great way to work together and learn with like-minded farmers. They are financially beneficial and also good for social networking and connections.
“Participating in small group learning sessions and gatherings has proven to be highly valuable for many groups.
“The sharing of ideas and experiences has resulted in valuable insights, benefiting not only the members of these groups but also the broader network of interconnected farming businesses.”
While BLNZ will no longer provide funding to groups in the same way, it will continue to provide support through its extension staff.
“We want to emphasise that this doesn’t signify the end of the groups or a requirement for farmers to conclude ongoing activities and disband the groups.”