Monday, March 4, 2024

BLNZ ready to reach out to farmers

Neal Wallace
Advocacy role reviewed following pushback from levy payers.
BNZ Markets head of research Stephen Toplis expects the dairy payout to come under pressure in the short term.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is promising more face-to-face interaction with farmers as part of several undertakings recommended in an independent review into its advocacy role.

The review, by Nicola Shadbolt, a professor of Farm and AgriBusiness Management at Massey University, followed challenges to BLNZ’s advocacy approach by levy payers at last year’s annual meeting.

In her report, Shadbolt says BLNZ needs to build effective advocacy through trustworthiness and via two-way communication with members.

In a notice to levy payers, BLNZ says it has adopted all the recommendations and will increase farmer input into policy advocacy and provide greater feedback on the reasons for the board’s policy positions.

It is also promising to be more transparent and to have realistic consultation timeframes.

Shadbolt’s study included a literature review of the advocacy activities of producer bodies and documented activities and timelines for advocacy of Essential Freshwater and He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) policies.

“Comparisons were made between best practice and perceptions of what happened in the two advocacy journeys, and these formed the basis for recommendations on what B+LNZ should change to enhance its effectiveness in the advocacy space.”

She says context is needed when analysing the response to the freshwater and HWEN policies between 2019 and now.

“The covid pandemic, increasing global geopolitical disruption, a government intent on pushing through many, often quite poorly crafted, policies all led to social unrest. Trust was elusive.”

She says effective advocacy hinges on the actual or perceived trustworthiness of an organisation.

“Any decrease in trust through poor information or communication, including misinformation, only exacerbated the situation.”

She found that BLNZ’s advocacy on freshwater regulations was considered successful, especially at a regional level.

“In contrast, it was recognised that for the HWEN, a successful outcome was not only unlikely but was also unrealistic, given the opposing forces of government ideology and farmer expectations.”

In a notice to farmers the body promises more face-to-face meetings on key issues, including holding director-led woolshed meetings.

It will use groups of farmers with specialist knowledge to assist in formulating policy positions and to hold more surveys to test policy positions and help prioritise issues.

BLNZ will also work with farmers to calculate the potential impact of proposed policy changes on business profitability. It will set clear bottom lines, report back to farmers on final policy positions and on how the board has settled on those positions.

The organisation notes that the new government intends to halt the implementation of some environmental policies and will be making changes on others.

BLNZ wants to work with farmers to shape those changes 

That includes developing and testing with farmers a “roadmap” on climate change for freshwater regulations.

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