It seems appropriate that Southland is playing host to two significant celebrations of farming excellence this year.
Southland’s sheep industry has a proud history- and exciting future - so it seems appropriate we should be hosting these awards.Sheep and beef farmers have had a particularly successful year in this year’s round of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, with the majority of regional Supreme Award winners coming from our industry.
What I’m particularly pleased to see is farmers being prepared to put their farms forward for judging.
As an industry – and maybe as a nation – we are not very good at self-promotion and saying that actually - we are pretty good at what we do.
As farmers, we could do well to take a leaf out of French-farmers book on gaining public adulation. I’m not suggesting we take to our tractors and bring central Wellington to a grinding halt, but we could get better at engaging with the public.
As I mentioned in my last column, we at Beef + Lamb New Zealand are currently going through a strategy refresh, identifying our passion and what we are best in the world at.
Custodians of the land
As sheep and beef farmers- and custodians of the land- I believe we are amongst the best in the world and we need to be proud of it. Most importantly- we need to share our pride because our future depends upon it.
Consumers are no longer content with just buying our product – they want to hear the why and the how their lamb and beef was produced, and understand the impact our productions systems have on the environment.In essence, they want to hear our stories and I believe we are fortunate that we have great, authentic stories to tell.
Even within our own country, we need to be showing our local and national politicians – and general public – that sheep and beef farmers are responsible custodians of the land. We will be staring down the barrel of regulation unless we are proactive in showing how efficient our red meat production systems are.
I was fortunate enough to attend the recent Ahuwhenua Trophy “Excellence in Maori Farming” Awards in Whangarei.
This country’s oldest and most prestigious farming competition, the Ahuwhenua Trophy began in 1933 when visionary Maori leader Sir Apirana Ngata and Governor General Lord Bledisloe introduced the award to encourage skill and proficiency in Maori farming.
This year the category was sheep and beef – it alternates with dairy – and it really was impressive to gain insight into the workings of large and small scale Maori corporations-with their unique governance structures- as well as family farming operations.
The Award evenings are a fantastic celebration of farming and the strong ties Maori have with their land.The Maori Trust in particular are managing land that will never be sold. For this reason, they take a long-term view of protecting and enhancing their environment and I believe these values resonate with sheep and beef farmers across the country.
As farmers, we should be proud of what we do and not be afraid to stand up and say- actually we are the best in the world.
Andrew Morrison is Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Southern South Island farmer director. You can contact him on 027 6644 620.