Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) National Extension Programme Manager Olivia Weatherburn is encouraging Action Groups throughout the country to continue their positive work, despite annual funding coming to an end on 30 September.
The Action Groups programme was developed as part of the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) to support farmers in making key changes to farm systems, the environment, and other areas.
When the RMPP programme wrapped up, B+LNZ adopted the Action Groups model and provided kick-start funding.
There are currently around 100 active groups, made up of 8-10 farmers, throughout New Zealand. Around half of those are supported by B+LNZ.
Last year, B+LNZ reached out to group leaders across the country to gain insights into their groups’ accomplishments and the challenges they faced.
“Remarkably, 90 percent of the groups had successfully achieved the goals they set out to accomplish,” she says.
Weatherburn says Action Groups are a great way to work together and learn with like-minded farmers.
“Participating in small group learning sessions and gatherings has proven to be highly valuable for many groups.
“The sharing of ideas and experiences has resulted in valuable insights, benefiting not only the members of these groups but also the broader network of interconnected farming businesses.”
While B+LNZ will no longer provide funding to groups in the same way, it will continue to provide support through its extension staff.
“We want to emphasize that this doesn’t signify the end of the groups or a requirement for farmers to conclude ongoing activities and disband the groups,” says Weatherburn.
In the upcoming months, B+LNZ will review the program to help determine the best way to provide support to the groups going forward.
“We'll be reaching out to gather feedback, insights, and ideas, particularly from the current active groups. This will also include exploring potential options for future extension delivery.”