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Environmental Forum Helps Farmers Promote Positive Change

Environmental Forum Helps Farmers Promote Positive Change

Some of New Zealand’s leading sheep and beef farmers had the opportunity to sharpen their leadership skills at a recent Environmental Leadership Forum in Wellington.

Facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the event brought together 24 sheep and beef farmers who are all past-winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Simon Saunders, Acting NZFE Chair, says the May13-15 forum was designed to equip the participants with the skills needed to become effective environmental leaders for the sheep and beef industry.

“They are all outstanding sheep and beef farmers who are passionate about environmental sustainability. The aim of the forum is to help them develop their leadership skills so that they can go back to their communities and promote positive change.”

The forum featured an excellent line-up of speakers and gave participants the chance to network with politicians, government officials and other farming leaders.

Wairarapa farmers Michael and Karen Williams, Supreme winners of the 2013 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards, found the forum to be a highly rewarding experience.

“It was quite inspirational,” says Karen.

“The speakers were outstanding and it was an exciting opportunity for us to meet with others from our industry and to exchange views with politicians from different political persuasions.”

Karen says she and Michael also appreciated spending time with the other participants from around the country.

“We all share a passion for farming and the same environmental ethos, and we enjoyed talking to farmers from other regions about some of the challenges they face when it comes to environmental sustainability.”

Karen says the forum has increased their motivation to spread the sustainability message to other farmers in their region and to the urban community.

“There are some very good farming stories that we need to tell,” she says.

“We want people to understand that the vast majority of farmers are doing a good job. They do look after their stock and they want to leave their land in better shape for the next generation.”

Dr Scott Champion, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, says the organisation is very pleased to be working with the NZFE Trust to provide development opportunities for New Zealand’s sheep and beef producers.

“Sustainable development has always been part of the sheep and beef sector’s ethos and this programme builds upon our support for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. More and more pressure is coming on resources, particularly freshwater, and communities are facing the dual issues of economic development and sustainability. It is important that we have leaders who can tell their story and provide a drystock perspective within those discussions.

“We are looking to develop the programme further to ensure sheep and beef farmers have the information and skills they need to advocate for our sector.”

This is the second year Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the NZFE Trust have held the forum. Last year’s event was also highly successful.

“Building environmental leadership is a key part of NZFE Trust’s strategy,” says Simon Saunders.

“The Trust values its relationship with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and we applaud its foresight and proactive approach towards developing leaders in the agricultural sector.”

For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, visit www.bfea.org.nz

ENDS

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