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Farm environment awards kicks off again


MEDIA RELEASE


Farm environment awards kicks off again

For immediate release: Monday 10 November 2003

An environmental farm award that was a major success last year has attracted fewer entries this time around – but that’s okay, says judge Ian Pirani.

Fifteen farmers and orchardists have taken up the opportunity to enter this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Last year’s inaugural event attracted a strong listing of 37 entrants from around the Bay of Plenty.

Mr Pirani, who is leader of the judging team, says the drop in number seems to be partly a result of the high standard set by entrants in 2002. “When we contacted people to encourage them to enter, we received much the same response,” he explains. “They felt they needed another year to get up to standard. They didn’t want to enter just yet.”

Environment Bay of Plenty, which runs the event regionally, says tighter deadlines and floods that kept farmers busy in parts of the region may have also had an impact.

Coordinator Sheree Phillips was pleased with the interest shown in the event last year. “It was very exciting and the rural sector supported it wholeheartedly. We know that support is still there.”

Some of the previous year’s entrants liked it so much they have returned this year as judges, she says. Others have entered again because they found it such a good learning experience. Many told Ms Philips they were recommending it to their friends.

“Unfortunately, that strong support hasn’t resulted in a lot of entries. However, we are not going to let this hiccup stop us. The purpose of these awards is to reward people for good environmental practice and to encourage others to follow suit. Our region needs them.”

Judges will include representatives from organisations involved in sustainable land management, including Federated Farmers, Farm Forestry Association, the regional council and sponsors.

Entrants will be assessed over the next two months, with finalists chosen and re-assessed early next year. An awards ceremony will be held in April.

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards promote the concept that sustainable farming is practical, achievable and profitable. The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are now run annually in seven regions. Principal sponsor for the national awards programme is Ballance Agri-Nutrients, with support from ANZ Bank, Wrightson, Gallagher, Richmonds and Livestock Improvement Corporation.

ENDS

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