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Farmers For The Environment

16 February 2006

Farmers For The Environment

The numbers and calibre of entries in the 2006 Ballance Farm Environment Awards are a clear indication that New Zealand farmers are taking a very strong interest in the premise that sound sustainable farming practices are not only good for the environment, they are good for business.

Across eight regions, the 2006 awards have attracted a record number of nearly 200 entries.

Organisers say it’s especially pleasing to note that the newest region, Northland, has notched up 26 entries.

National chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Awards Trust. Peter Nation says it’s “a sign of the times”.

“It’s not easy for people to come forward to share their environmental beliefs and discoveries. They do what they do, because it is important to them and their families. But there is a growing awareness that it is important to pass on what they have learned,” Mr Nation says.

“It’s been coming for several years, but there’s no question it has finally arrived. People understand that it’s possible to look after the land for the future at the same time as making it a viable business proposition.”

One of the most pleasing aspects, he says, is that the farming community recognises that by proactively and voluntarily “doing their bit” for the land, they pre-empt the need for coercive legislation.

Mr Nation says the notion that being environmentally responsible equates with a financial sacrifice has well and truly been eroded.

“And I like to think that the Ballance Farm Environment Awards have played a major role in that.”

Since the Farm Environment Awards were conceived 17 years ago in the Waikato, they have grown and been adopted to the extent they now cover eights regions nationally.

“Unlike other awards, we don’t seek to identify a ‘national’ winner. Instead, we bring together the supreme award recipients from each region so they can pool their knowledge and we can then share that with the rest of the rural community,” Mr Nation says.

Mr Nation is also national sales manager for Gallagher Group, one of the key sponsors of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

“Like the other sponsors, we see value in putting our support towards an initiative that not only recognises and rewards people who are proactively making a contribution to the state of the land that is passed on to future generations; they are also sharing their knowledge freely so others can do the same.”

A series of awards evening will be held in the regions during April with the supreme award winners from each region coming together for a Sustainability Showcase in July.

Principal sponsor Ballance Agri-Nutrients is joined in supporting the Farm Environment Awards by Rabobank, PPCS, PPG Wrightson, Livestock Improvement Corporation, Gallagher Group and Hill Laboratories. The awards are also supported by Environment Waikato, the Northland Regional Council, Environment BOP, the Greater Wellington Regional Council, Horizons Regional Council Otago Regional Council and Environment Canterbury.

Ballance Farm Environment Awards programmes are held in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Manawatu/Wanganui, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

ENDS

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