Chair Kate Acland says while it will take some time to develop detailed responses, initial work is already getting under way.
“The nature of the remits and the results of voting show there are concerns among some farmers about B+LNZ’s advocacy work, but they also reflect farmers’ frustration with the scale, impact and relentless pace of the Government reforms.
“There’s also a group of farmers who feel they haven’t been listened to and are unhappy about some of the positions we’ve taken. That’s something we want to address as soon as possible.”
Acland says B+LNZ agreed with many of the remits – for example adding Director contact details on to its website.
“However, there’s a lot for the Board to work through on some of the more complex policy-related remits. We talked about what our first steps need to be and over the next few weeks we’ll be developing more detailed plans.
“It’s clear we need to get out there and listen to farmers as we develop those plans.
“We’ve identified the need to do a reset in how we engage with our farmers. Our Farmer Councillors will be a critical part of that process as a key sounding board for the organisation, although the remit process showed we need greater clarity on their role.”
Another key area the Board will focus on during the coming weeks is agricultural emissions pricing.
“It’s also clear that while there’s a lot of concerns about the implications of putting a price on emissions, there’s no consensus on the tactical issue of whether B+LNZ should remain within He Waka Eke Noa.
“Voting on that remit was pretty much evenly split, so the Board recognises we need deeper conversations with more farmers about whether it’s better to stay in the tent and influence outcomes from the inside or leave to make a clear statement but potentially lose influence. We will continue to test our thinking with farmers on this point.
“The Board was also keen to restate our bottom lines including not accepting an emissions pricing framework that will disproportionately impact the viability of sheep and beef farms and fair recognition for the sequestration happening on our farms.”
Acland says that the remits have been helpful for B+LNZ to demonstrate to the Government the depth of concern this issue, and the critical need to get this right.
“Above all though, the process has shown that we as a Board and an organisation need to get out there and listen to farmers more as we develop our responses – and we need to reset how we engage with our farmers.
“We are committed to listening to farmer concerns and to working through how to improve our processes to ensure our positions best reflect those concerns. We want to involve farmers more in our policy development processes.
“While we have tried our best to follow good process in the past, we need to make improvements. Our first step is talking to the remit proposers who called for a review into B+LNZ’s advocacy and consultation approaches to discuss options and we’ll provide farmers with more information as soon as we can.”