The Beef + Lamb NZ annual meeting was a feisty affair, with 10 remits voted on and a fair bit of terse rhetoric from attendees.
Many of those farmers say their trust in the organisation’s ability to act in farmers’ interests has gone following the negotiations on emissions pricing.
Some want the pace of change to slow, some want changes made to He Waka Eke Noa and some seem to want to farm in the way they choose, despite what’s happening outside the farm gate.
Outgoing chair Andrew Morrison, the fall guy in this conflict, defended BLNZ’s work quite succinctly.
He told the meeting BLNZ is dealing in the real world, not the world they wish they operated in.
New Beef + Lamb NZ chair Kate Acland says the industry group needs to ‘keep fighting for sensible and practical policy settings’, and has the board’s first women chair, she now faces the task of communicating BLNZ’s vision to its base and getting everyone moving in the same direction. She’s also made a success of everything she’s tried her hand at so far, so looks like the right choice at this pivotal time.
Meanwhile, out in the real world, Rabobank managing board member Berry Marttin told the Farm2Fork conference in Sydney last month that emissions pricing is just the first of many challenges for food producers.
“We have used nature because it is very valuable but we also lose nature because it’s free,” Marttin said.
Many of NZ’s big food processors have signed up to the Science-Based Targets initiative and that programme will unveil policies to protect and improve water quality, biodiversity and social issues as well.
Marttin said it is inevitable as consumers ask more of their food producers.
This message, coming from one of the globe’s biggest suppliers of finance to farmers, needs to be heard.
We may be a long way from our export markets, but what we do from here will shape how close our relationship with them is in the future.
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