What an extraordinary year. Before we reflect on the year that was, we’d like to start by acknowledging what an amazing sector ours is – something we’ve long known, but this year has really underlined the passion, pride and resilience of sheep and beef farmers and our processing companies, and the ongoing importance of our contribution to communities, to the environment, and to the economy.
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to share their thoughts with us this year – we really value hearing from you and it shows that B+LNZ really is by farmers for farmers.
We all know there have been considerable challenges this year.
In the face of disruption caused by the global pandemic, our sector changed the way it does things and where it sends products. The Taste Pure Nature brand leveraged changes in consumer behavior in China, especially, toward seeking healthier food options in the wake of COVID-19. Our exports continued to perform really strongly and will continue to be vital to New Zealand’s post-COVID recovery.
Despite COVID-19 related processing restrictions and a widespread drought in the first half of the year, a near record 130.3 percent lambing percentage was achieved.
We’ve faced serious weather challenges both wet and dry, and we worked really well with industry partners and government to support farmers – that will continue.
And the task of eradicating Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) is huge but despite recent cases we are making excellent progress, and we just need to stay NAIT vigilant.
We also know that significant challenges lie ahead.
We need to keep telling our story to the New Zealand public and to the world, so they understand how our beef and lamb is produced and what that means for animals, for consumers, for the environment and for communities. We want to build on the success of Taste Pure Nature and we’ll also be increasing our efforts to build our ‘social licence’.
We’ll be looking to build on the conversations we’ve started this year with major pieces of commissioned research, such as the AUT report into the sequestration happening on sheep and beef farms that showed we’re almost carbon neutral – that one really got all sorts of people talking!
We’re getting independent research done on the amount of sheep and beef farmland that has been sold with the intent of conversion into carbon farming and we are hoping this will be released early next year.
The last couple of years have reinforced the importance of trusted independent research to feed into policy conversations. Commissioning this research for the benefit of the whole sector is one of B+LNZ’s important roles.
We’ve faced a raft of new legislation, particularly aimed at addressing climate change and the environment. B+LNZ will continue to advocate strongly for farmers and there are encouraging signs of movement on some of the more unworkable aspects of the new freshwater rules.
The He Waka Eke Noa partnership is making progress towards farmer-tested approaches to measuring and reducing greenhouse gases – there will be more information about this soon.
We’ll be providing farmers with tools and support to help you find pathways through the new rules – early next year we’ll start releasing our holistic, modular farm plan as the key tool.
Trade disruption caused by Brexit remains a concern but, as outlined in an email we sent to farmers this week, we’re well prepared for whatever outcome eventuates.
This is just a snapshot of where we’re at. Farmer confidence has fluctuated this year and we understand that – the challenges are immense.
However, we believe in the strength and resilience of our sector and know we can not only meet those challenges but thrive. B+LNZ will be supporting farmers at every step of the way.
If you want to find out more about the work B+LNZ did on your behalf this year, and our focuses for the coming year, check out the update we mailed out to levy payers last week. If you didn’t receive this, you can find a copy on our website here.
This is B+LNZ’s last e-diary newsletter for the year, so keep an eye out for the first edition later in January.
Have a safe and happy festive season.
Merry Christmas from Sam and Andrew
Sam McIvor, B+LNZ CEO / Andrew Morrison, B+LNZ Chair