Farm Environment Trust Draws High Praise
Farm Environment Trust Draws High Praise From Northern Farming Leader
Winning the Supreme title in the 2006 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards opened a lot of doors for Far North beef farmer, Alec Jack.
Speaking at the ‘Innovate08’ MAF Policy conference in Wellington in May, the third generation farmer outlined some of the benefits the award provided for him and his family.
He and wife Kelly farm 560ha of family-owned land at Pakaraka in the Bay of Islands. About 30% of their farm is in native bush, waterways or exotic plantings, and the pastoral land produced over 400kg of beef carcase weight/ha last year.
Alec said the family’s goal is to farm sustainably and profitably “to make sure we have a farming business worth passing on to the next generation”.
He said the family was shocked but delighted to be named Northland’s first winner of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2006, and one of the immediate benefits was receiving “the mandate to speak” about environmental issues at the National Showcase for Supreme winners that year.
“Since then I’ve noticed that my farmer peers often look to me for feedback on environmental issues, expecting me to be the environmental conscience.”
This has led to leadership roles within the industry. He is involved with several farmer research groups, represents Northland farmers on the PPCS North Island Suppliers Council, and his farming operation is one year into a three year stint as the Far North Meat & Wool NZ Monitor Farm.
Last year he was also sponsored through the prestigious Rabobank Executive Development Program by the New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust – the organisation behind the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
“So our award has been life-changing. I’ve always had a deep love for our family farm, but armed with this ‘mandate to speak’, that enthusiasm now encompasses a wider advocacy role for sustainable and profitable farming.”
Mr Jack paid tribute to the NZ Farm Environment Award Trust and he urged businesses and policy makers to back the Trust’s philosophies.
“The Trust is all about promoting sustainable, profitable farming systems. So I am excited to be involved because their core belief is my core farming goal. While some farmer organisations are noted for their stalling tactics in the face of the wave of environmental requirements that are about to come crashing down on their farmer members, I look at the work and achievements of the NZ Farm Environment Award Trust and I’m proud to be associated with them.”
Mr Jack said the Trust plays a crucial role in discovering, creating and supporting the farming leaders of tomorrow. These leaders embrace the changes required to keep NZ at the forefront of sustainable agriculture.
“Farmers have confidence in the intentions and independence of the trust, and they respect its award-winners because they know the rigorous peer review process they have been subjected to,” he said.
“The Trust has massive potential to support NZ businesses in marketing our clean green image globally. But it is also about networking, and facilitating links that will further the promotion of sustainable, profitable farming within this country.”
Mr Jack was supported in his presentation by NZ Farm Environment Award Trust general manager David Natzke who said the Trust’s aim was to be the leading independent advocate for sustainable management of land and other natural resources on New Zealand farms.
“The key objectives of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards are to encourage sustainable land management and to show farmers that profitability need not be compromised and, in the best example, can restore and enhance environmental values.”